ACCESSIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARD
Dear Tecumseh BIA Member,
The BIA has joined the Tecumseh Accessibility Advisory Committee, that was established with the Town of Tecumseh, to help explain the new Accessible Customer Service Standard. You may also be aware that the Ontario Government has established the Ontarians with Disability Act, 2001.
The Tecumseh BIA and the Town of Tecumseh is working together with the Province to make Ontario more accessible to people with disabilities and to everyone who lives in and visits our Town. That’s why the Province has developed the new Accessible Customer Service Standard.
All businesses that have at least one employee will have to comply with this standard by January 1, 2012. The standard is for businesses to improve their physical premises (internal and external) that will accommodate people with disabilities who visit and shop in their establishments.
The AODA is made up of five standards: the Customer Service Standard; the Information and Communications Standard; the Employment Standard; the Design of Public Spaces Standard; and the Transportation Standard. The last four standards are collectively called the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). Each standard has requirements that organizations need to meet, with specific compliance deadlines.
The goal of the AODA is to make Ontario accessible by 2025 and helps us meet the changing needs of our communities, the future needs of an aging population, and the competitiveness of our businesses.
To find out more about the AODA and how it affects you, check out the Ontario BIA Association’s Accessibility page on their website and watch our AODA Overview webinar to get a quick summary of what obligations businesses’ have under the AODA.
The Tecumseh Accessibility Advisory Committee has created an idea and check list for you to use to help make your business more accessible for your customers who have disabilities.
Entrances and Exits
- Wide doors that are easily opened with one hand or self-opening doors
- Entrances are level without steps or ledges
- Handrails on stairs or ramps are provided
- Entrance and exit mats are clear, dry and flat
- Provide seating and ensure that they have arm-rests
- Display name of business on the door
- Service Dogs allowed on premises by law
Floors and Aisles
- Floors are kept clean and dry
- Aisles are wide and free of obstructions and allow access for wheelchair, walker, scooters
- Floors are level and without any uneven ledges
Inside Stairways and Corridors
- Whenever possible replace stairs with ramps
- Stair edges are highlighted with bright colours and use non-skid surfaces
- Stairs are uniform with risers consistent in height and treads consistent in width
- Rounded handrails are used
- Stairways and corridors are will lit with emergency lighting available
Parking Lots and Driveways
- Adequate parking spots that are large enough to accommodate vehicles that display a disabled parking permit
- Debris, snow and water are removed from parking area to minimize the struggle with barriers
- Accessible placement of curb cuts
- Even surfaces allowing easy access for strollers, wheelchairs, walkers and scooters
- Washrooms are well marked and conveniently located
- Entrances are wide enough to allow wheelchair and baby stroller access
- Handrails are installed in toilet areas and sinks and towel dispensers are at reasonable heights
- Family washrooms are available
- Washrooms are well lit and well maintained
Shelves and Displays
- Shelves and displays are firmly attached
- Objects that are bulky and heavy are placed on or near the bottom
- Assistance is provided for people who are unable to reach the top
The Visually Impaired
- Large print on all signs
- Braille by handles of washrooms, elevator, warnings and directional signage, etc.
- Assistance available when needed
- Fast food restaurants could provide hand held menus with large print or Braille
The Hearing Impaired
- Individuals with hearing impairments can often read lips if you speak slowly and look straight at theme while talking
- Learning just a few sign language gestures would help to communicate with persons with hearing impairments
For additional information you can visit the following websites:
Disability in the workplace can be a hard topic to talk about. The word disability carries a lot of stigma with it. The thought of hiring a person with a disability may scare many business owners – but the reality is, you probably already have employees with disabilities or have a disability yourself! There are many myths around employment and disability that we need to dispel.
Myth 1: All people with disabilities are the same.
When we think of a person with a disability, we often think of a wheelchair user or someone accompanied by a guide dog. However, disability covers many areas of human difference. Wearing glasses to read or a cane to walk are accommodations we see everyday that we may not think of being part of a disability. However, most forms of disability cannot be seen as 70% of all disabilities are in invisible, meaning you couldn’t tell a person has a disability just by looking at them!
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) uses the same definition of “disability” as the Ontario Human Rights Code, which includes both visible and non-visible disabilities. This includes vision disabilities such as low or no sight, deafness or being hard of hearing, intellectual or developmental, learning, and mental health disabilities. Disability is a broad term!
Myth 2: Employing people with disabilities will cost more and use up more time
80% of accommodations in the workplace cost under $500. Employee engagement is often greater for employees with disabilities, with turnover that is 5x less than their non-disabled counterparts. Accommodations help employees, with or without disabilities, to do their job better, be engaged and feel a valued part of the organization. This saves the organization money and time in the long run!
There are many supports available to organizations looking to increase accessibility such as Community Living Essex County – North Shore Career Compas, Stop the Gap, the Enabling Accessibility Fund, the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, and Workplace Accessibility.
Brisbois, B. Business Benefits of Accessible Workplaces. (2014). PDF. Web. 8 August 2014.
Dale , J. Disability and Employment. Ontario Disability Employment Network. [no date]. PDF. Web. 8 August 2014.
Dale, J., Wafer, M. Employment: A personal imperative and a business imperative. International Accessibility Summit, Ottawa. 14 July 2014. Conference Presentation.
Donovan, R. “Mining the disability market.” BBC. (2011). Web. 29 April 2013.
Fredeen, K. et al. Rethinking Disabilities. (2013). PDF. Web. 8 August 2014.
Kemper et al. Releasing Constraints: Projecting the Economic Impacts of Increased Accessibility in Ontario. Martin Prosperity Institute. (2010). PDF. Web. 29 April 2013.
Policy and guidelines on disability and the duty to accommodate. Ontario Human Rights Commission. (2000). Web. 2 February 2016.