By January 1st 2012, all businesses and nonprofits in Ontario with one or more employees (full-time, part-time, seasonal, or contract) are required to comply with a set of obligations under the Accessible Customer Service Standard. This includes consultants, manufacturers and wholesalers as well as other businesses and professional services. Accessibility standards are the rules that businesses and organizations in Ontario will have to follow to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility.
Requirements of Legislation
The Accessible Customer Service Standard is the first of five standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) and compliancy requirements include:
- training of all staff and volunteers;
- creation of policies and procedures concerning service animals,
- support persons, assistive devices, interruption of service;
- provision of alternative communication methods; and
- for organizations with more than 20 staff, annual submission of compliancy reports to the government
Non-compliance with the legislation can result in government inspections, monetary penalties and prosecution through the courts.
Toolkit for Compliance
The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services has published effective tools on their website including sample plans, training tips and checklists at http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/