Accessibility

Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Policy

 

Purpose and Background

 

Under the AODA, Ontario Regulation 429/07, entitled “Accessibility Standards for Customer Service” (the “Service Regulation”), came into effect on January 1, 2008. The Service Regulation establishes accessibility standards specific to customer service for private sector organizations that provide goods and services to members of the public or other third parties.

 

The objective of this policy is to identify what the equal treatment provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code, through the AODA and the Service Regulation, require with respect to service delivery to persons with disabilities and addresses the following:

 

  • The Provision of Goods and Services to Persons with Disabilities;
  • The Use of Assistive Devices;
  • The Use of Guide Dogs and Service Animals;
  • The Use of Support Persons;
  • Notice of Service Disruptions;
  • Customer Feedback;
  • Training; and
  • Notice of Availability and Format of Required Documents.

 

Statement of Commitment and Accountabilities

 

Commitment

Southmedic is committed to providing a respectful, welcoming, accessible, and inclusive environment in the provision of goods and services for both customers/clients and employees alike. Southmedic is committed to, and strives to ensure that, the AODA, the standards and all other relevant legislation concerning accessibility, are rigorously observed. Southmedic ensures that all persons within its community are aware of their rights and responsibilities to foster an accessible and inclusive environment with and for persons with disabilities.

 

People with disabilities will be given an equal opportunity to obtain, use and benefit from Southmedic products and services in a way that is respectful of the dignity and independence of people with disabilities and in a manner which takes into account the person’s disability.

 

All goods and services provided by Southmedic shall follow the principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity.

 

Southmedic is committed to becoming a barrier free environment and meeting the requirements of all existing legislation and its own policies and goals related to identifying, removing and preventing barriers to people with disabilities that might interfere with their ability to make full use of the services provided by Southmedic.

 

Scope

 

  1. This policy applies to the provision of goods and services at premises owned and/or operated by Southmedic as well as any interactions with employees and customer/clients via telephone, email or written mail.
  2. This policy applies to employees, volunteers, agents and/or contractors who deal with the public or other third parties that act on behalf of Southmedic.

 

Additional Definitions:

Guide Dog: A highly-trained working dog that has been trained at one of the special facilities to provide mobility, safety and increased independence for people who are blind.

 

Service Animal: Defines a “service animal” as “an animal for a person with disability”. In this policy, a service animal is:

 

  • any animal used by a person with a disability for reasons relating to the disability; or
  • where the person provides a letter from a physician confirming that they require the animal for reasons relating to their disability; or
  • where the person provides a valid identification card signed by the Attorney General of Canada or a certificate of training from a recognized guide dog or service animal training school.

 

Support Person: A support person means, in relation to a person with a disability, another person who accompanies him or her in order to help with communication, mobility, personal care, medical needs or access to goods and services.

 

Customer Service Policy, Practice and Procedure

 

(1) The Provision of Goods and Services to Persons with Disabilities

 

Southmedic will make every reasonable effort to ensure that its policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity by:

 

  • ensuring that all customers receive the same value and quality;
  • allowing customers with disabilities to do things in their own ways, at their own pace when accessing goods and services as long as this does not present a safety risk;
  • using alternative methods when possible to ensure that customers with disabilities have access to the same services, in the same place and in a similar manner;
  • taking into account individual needs when providing goods and services; and
  • communicating in a manner that takes into account the customer’s disability.

 

Best Practices: Southmedic employees and representatives will be encouraged to be pro-active in seeking solutions and removing barriers, as well as alerting all customers to the range of accommodations that are available.

 

The term “persons with disabilities” will be the norm, and if a specific condition must be referenced, the condition will be referenced last (e.g., person with low vision). The following are some general tips that may help make communication and interaction with or about people with all types of disabilities more successful:

 

  • Remember to put people first. It is proper to say person with a disability, rather than disabled person or the disabled.
  • It is best to wait until an individual describes his or her situation to you, rather than to make your own assumptions. Many types of disabilities have similar characteristics and assumptions may be wrong.

 

When Southmedic bills for services, it should demonstrate a commitment to providing accessible invoices to all of our customers. This means that invoices should be provided in alternate formats upon request (e.g., hard copy, large print, email) and that staff is prepared to answer questions customers may have about the content of the invoice.

 

(2) Assistive Devices

 

Persons with disabilities may use their own assistive devices as required when accessing goods or services provided by Southmedic. In cases where the assistive device presents a safety concern or where accessibility might be an issue, other reasonable measures will be used to ensure the access of goods and services. For example, where elevators are not present and where an individual requires assistive devices for the purposes of mobility, service will be provided in a location that meets the needs of the customer.

 

Best Practices: Every employee who interacts with customers/clients or other third parties will be trained on how to assist with various assistive devices, should their assistance be required.

 

(3) Guide Dogs and Service Animals

 

A customer with a disability that is accompanied by a guide dog or service dog will be allowed access to premises that are open to the public unless otherwise excluded by law. Dog Owners’ Liability Act, Ontario: If there is a conflict between a provision of this Act or of a regulation under this or any other Act relating to banned breeds (such as pit bulls) and a provision of a by-law passed by a municipality relating to these breeds, the provision that is more restrictive in relation to controls or bans on these breeds prevails. If a guide dog or service animal is excluded by law, Southmedic will try to offer alternative methods to enable the person with a disability to access goods and services, when possible.

 

Recognizing a Guide Dog and/or Service Animal: If it is not readily apparent that the animal is being used by the customer for reasons relating to his or her disability, Southmedic may request verification from the customer. Verification may include:

 

  • a letter from a physician or nurse confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons related to the disability;
  • a valid identification card signed by the Attorney General of Canada; or,
  • a certificate of training from a recognized guide dog or service animal training school.

 

Care and Control of the Animal: The customer/client that is accompanied by a guide dog or service animal is responsible for maintaining care and control of the animal at all time.

 

(4) Allergies

 

If a health and safety concern presents itself, for example in the form of a severe allergy to the animal, Southmedic will make all reasonable efforts to meet the needs of all individuals.

 

Best Practices: Employees will be prepared to respond to requests of water for the service animal and to show the owner an outdoor area where the animal can be taken to relieve itself.

 

(5) Support Persons

 

If a customer/client with a disability is accompanied by a support person, Southmedic will ensure that both persons are allowed to enter the premises together and that the customer/client is not prevented from having access to the support person. All customer/client confidentiality requirements and practices will also apply to support persons.

 

(6) Training

 

Training will be provided to all employees who deal with the public; revised training will be provided in the event of changes to legislation or Southmedic policy, practice and procedure. Southmedic will keep a record of training that includes the dates training was provided, the number of employees and names of employees trained.

 

The training will include information on the purposes of the AODA, requirements of this Service Regulation, how to communicate and interact with people with disabilities, how to interact with service animal or support person, how to utilize assisted devices that are available at our premises, what to do if a person has difficulty accessing Southmedic services or facilities, and our policies, procedures and practices pertaining to providing accessible customer service to people with disabilities.

 

(7) Notice of Disruptions in Service

 

Service disruptions may occur due to reasons that may or may not be within the control or knowledge of Southmedic Inc. In the event of any temporary disruptions to facilities or services that customers with disabilities rely on to access or use, reasonable efforts will be made to provide advance notice. In some circumstances such as in the situation of unplanned temporary disruptions, advance notice may not be possible.

 

Best Practices: Any service disruption will take top priority and Southmedic employees will check to ensure no one is trapped or stuck because of the disruption.

 

The notice should include statement of regret and include date.

 

(8) Feedback Process

 

Southmedic shall provide customers/clients with the opportunity to provide feedback on the service provided to persons with disabilities. Information about the feedback process will be readily available to all customers/clients and notice of the process will be made available at location reception. Feedback forms along with alternate methods of providing feedback such as verbally (in person or by telephone) or written (hand written or email) will be available upon request.

 

Best Practices: Customers/clients will be informed about the feedback process and how action will be taken if a complaint is received. Southmedic will acknowledge verbal/written/telephone feedback within two business days, and within fifteen business days of the receipt of a mailed/e-mailed complaint. In some cases, it may not be possible or appropriate to acknowledge feedback, for example, if the customer wishes to remain anonymous, or indicates that he/she does not want to receive an acknowledgment. Customers can submit feedback here.

 

(9) Availability and Format of Documents (Alternative Formats)

 

All documents required by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, including The Southmedic’s Accessibility Policy, notices of temporary disruptions, training records, and written feedback process are available upon request, subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”). When providing these documents to a person with a disability, Southmedic inc. will endeavour to provide the document, or the information contained in the document, in a format that takes the person’s disability into account. Notice of the availability of documents required by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service will be posted on Southmedic’s website at:

 

Southmedic shall notify customers that the documents related to the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service are available upon request and in a format that takes into account the customer’s disability. Notification will be given by posting the information in a conspicuous location. The following information will be included unless it is not readily available or known:

 

  • goods or services that are disrupted or unavailable
  • reason for the disruption
  • anticipated duration
  • a description of alternative services or options