As noted in our last Blakes Bulletin on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA), the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) requires most companies and organizations to file compliance reports in relation to the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (the Customer Service Standard) on or before December 31, 2012. Further information regarding the online reporting process can be accessed here.
As a reminder, the Customer Service Standard generally requires most companies and organizations in Ontario to take the steps set out below.
- Create an accessible customer service policy setting out practices and procedures with respect to accessible customer service, addressing various matters including communication with individuals with disabilities, assistive devices, support persons and service animals.
- Ensure that all individuals dealing with the public or third parties on behalf of the company or organization – as well as all individuals involved in creating and implementing customer service policies – receive training regarding accessibility issues, which covers the specific topics required by the standard.
- Notify customers and other third parties of any disruption to services typically used by individuals with disabilities to access goods or services.
- Create a feedback process through which individuals with disabilities can provide feedback regarding the provision of goods and services.
- Notify customers and others regarding the accessible customer service policy and feedback process.
MCSS has also released further guidance regarding compliance with the Integrated Accessibility Standards (the Integrated Standard). The Integrated Standard sets out accessibility standards relating to employment, information and communications and transportation, and also creates certain obligations in respect of accessibility policy-making and training. The Guide to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation can be accessed here. MCSS has also created an AODA Compliance Wizard to allow companies and organizations to obtain a snapshot of the key upcoming Integrated Standard requirements and deadlines. The AODA Compliance Wizard can be accessed here.
For most companies and organizations, the next AODA obligations to be addressed following the Customer Service Standard compliance reporting will be the Integrated Standard accessibility policy and plan requirements to be completed by January 1, 2014. However, companies and organizations should consider accessibility issues in respect of all areas covered by the Integrated Standard well in advance in order to ensure compliance is achieved by the various deadlines.
The Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment remain in draft form and are being considered by the Ontario government.