Brock is making strides to be more accessible to people with disabilities in light of a new provincial law guaranteeing respectful customer service for everyone.
A draft University policy is being approved to comply with Ontario’s Accessible Customer Service Standard, which took effect on Jan. 1. Brock has also developed a communication and training program, which some front-line staff took in 2009. The newly redesigned Accessibility website also has a feedback form for people to voice their opinions, said Margaret Sanderson, University accessibility co-ordinator.
“We are moving forward to identify, prevent and remove barriers to persons with disabilities who study, work or visit the University,” she said.
The new law affects Ontario’s hospitals, schools, municipalities and other public organizations. Non-profit organizations and the private sector will follow in 2012.
The Accessible Customer Service Standard requires that all businesses and organizations in Ontario:
- train staff about meeting the needs of customers with a variety of disabilities
- communicate with a person in a manner that takes into account their disability
- permit customers to bring their service animals, such as guide dogs, onto their premises.
“Imagine being treated disrespectfully in a store by a clerk,” said a government release last month. “Or not getting served at a coffee shop because staff didn’t take the time to understand you. For a customer with a disability, these situations can be difficult to avoid.”
“Accessible customer service is about learning how to communicate with someone who has a disability and, most importantly, it is about being willing to help,” said Community and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur.
The Accessible Customer Service Standard is part of the province’s plan to make Ontario accessible by 2025. More accessibility standards are being finalized to tackle barriers in other key areas of every day life. For more information, visit AccessON.
Here are some ways to make services accessible for people with disabilities:
- Treat people with disabilities with the same respect and consideration you have for everyone else.
- Smile, relax, and keep in mind that people with disabilities are just people.
- Don’t make assumptions about what type of disability or disabilities a person has.
- Some disabilities are not visible. Take the time to get to know your customers’ needs.
- Be patient. People with some kinds of disabilities may take a little longer to understand and respond.
- If you’re not sure what to do, ask your customer, “May I help you?”