Accessible Customer Service. Guide. Providing Services to People with Disabilities

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1 Accessible Customer Service Guide Providing Services to People with Disabilities January 1, 2012 As required by law under Section 6 of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Accessible Customer Service Training is mandatory and applies to every person or organization in the public and private sectors of the Province of Ontario.

2 The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) Background The purpose of this Act is to benefit all Ontarians by, a) Developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, building structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025 and b) Providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, of the Government of Ontario and of representatives of industries and of various sectors of the economy in the development of the accessibility standards. The Customer Service standard is the first of five standards to be implemented. It took effect on January 1, 2010 for the public sector and became law for the private sector on January 1, The 5 standards of the Act are: Customer Service Transportation Information and Communication Employment Built Environment This guide will give you an overview of ProFormance Group s Accessible Customer Service policy and tips on how to best interact with a person with a disability so that you can provide the best possible customer service to all clients and customers

3 Accessible Customer Service Policy Providing Services to People with Disabilities 1. Our mission ProFormance Group Inc. (hereinafter referred to as ProFormance Group) is committed to providing accessible customer service to people with disabilities. 2. Our commitment In fulfilling our mission, ProFormance Group is committed to providing its services in a way that respects the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. We are also committed to giving people with disabilities the same opportunity to access our services and allowing them to benefit from the same service, in the same place and in a similar way as other customers. 3. Providing services to people with disabilities This policy aims to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided equal opportunity to obtain and use the services of ProFormance Group. We are committed to excellence in serving all customers including people with disabilities and reasonable efforts will be made to ensure that we will carry out our functions and responsibilities in the following areas: a) Communication We will communicate with people with disabilities in ways that take into account their disability. We will train staff who communicate with customers on how to interact and communicate with people with various types of disabilities. b) Telephone services We are committed to providing fully accessible telephone service to our customers. We will train staff to communicate with customers over the telephone in clear and plain language and to speak clearly and slowly. We will offer to communicate with customers by other means of communication, such as or in person, if telephone communication is not suitable to their communication needs or is not available

4 c) Assistive devices We are committed to serving people with disabilities who use assistive devices to obtain, use or benefit from our services. We will ensure that our staff are trained and familiar with various assistive devices that may be used by customers with disabilities while accessing our services. d) Billing We are committed to providing accessible invoices to all of our customers. For this reason, invoices will be provided in the following formats upon request: , hard copy or large print. 4. Use of service animals and support persons We are committed to welcoming people with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal on the parts of our premises that are open to the public and other third parties. We will also ensure that all staff, volunteers and others dealing with the public are properly trained in how to interact with people with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal. We are committed to welcoming people with disabilities who are accompanied by a support person. Any person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person will be allowed to enter ProFormance Group s premises with his or her support person. At no time will a person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person be prevented from having access to his or her support person while on our premises. 5. Notice of temporary disruption ProFormance Group will provide customers with notice in the event of a planned or unexpected disruption in the facilities or services usually used by people with disabilities. This notice will include information on the reason for the disruption, the anticipated duration, and a description of alternative facilities or services, if available. This notice will be placed at the entrance and service counters on our premises

5 6. Training for staff ProFormance Group will provide training to all employees, and others who deal with the public or other third parties on their behalf and all those who are involved in the development and approvals of customer service policies, practices and procedures. This training will be provided as soon as practicable upon a new employee being hired, but in any event, not later than 3 months after date of hire. Training will include the following: The purposes of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and the requirements of the customer service standard How to interact and communicate with people with various types of disabilities How to interact with people with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a service animal or a support person What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty in accessing ProFormance Group s services ProFormance Group s policies, practices and procedures relating to the customer service standard All staff will be trained on policies, practices and procedures that affect the way services are provided to people with disabilities. Staff will also be trained on an ongoing basis when changes are made to these policies, practices and procedures. 7. Feedback process The ultimate goal of ProFormance Group is to meet and surpass customer expectations while serving customers with disabilities. Comments on our services regarding how well those expectations are being met are welcome and appreciated. Feedback regarding the way ProFormance Group provides services to people with disabilities can be made in person, in writing, by telephone, by , or other reasonable method. All feedback will be directed to Elaine Samways. Customers can expect to hear back within 3 business days

6 Accessible Customer Service Procedures Understanding Disability Disabilities can take many forms. There are many types of disabilities such as permanent, temporary, physical or developmental. Some are severe, mild, young or old, or any combination. A person could become injured resulting in a permanent or temporary disability or a person could be born with a disability. Some are visible and some are non-visible. When we provide our services, we need to consider the needs of people who are or have: A physical disability Deaf or have a form of hearing loss Blind or have some form of vision loss Deaf and blind A learning disability A speech or language impairment An intellectual or developmental disability A mental illness Accessible Customer Service Accessible customer services is an understanding that access to the services ProFormance Group provides, requires modification to be accessible to individual needs. ProFormance Group Inc. is committed to providing customer service to people with disabilities in a manner that: Avoids stereotyping, making no assumptions of what type of disability or disabilities the person has. Is sensitive and takes the time to get to know the person s needs, focusing on those needs as we would any other person. Respect their dignity and independence. Ensures reasonable efforts are made to provide opportunities that are equal to that offered to other customers that obtain or use ProFormance Group services. Is responsive by delivering service in a timely manner, considering the nature of the service and the specific needs required

7 Using Proper Choice Words The notion perceived that people with disabilities are inspirational, brave and courageous for living with their disability is a myth. In fact the person with a disability is carrying out activities of their daily lives when they drive to work, participate in a sport, shop, or pay bills. They just go about it in a different way than you. They are unique individuals that also have a disability. They are people first. Use the proper wording that put them first when referring to them. INSTEAD OF REFERING AS: PLEASE REFER AS: The Handicapped Normal The Blind, the visually impaired The Deaf Physically Challenged Confined to a wheelchair, wheelchair bound Suffers with, victim of, afflicted with, stricken by Handicapped Parking Handicapped washroom/bathroom Mental, insane, crazy Mentally retarded, slow, feeble minded, retarded Person with disability Person without a disability, non-disabled, able-bodied Person who is blind, person with a vision impairment, person with a vision loss Person who is deaf, person who is hard of hearing, person with a hearing loss Person with a disability Person who uses a wheelchair, scooter Person with a disability, person with cerebral palsy, person who has multiple sclerosis, arthritis, etc. Accessible Parking Accessible washroom/bathroom Person with a mental health disability, person with a mental illness Person with an intellectual disability - 6 -

8 Interaction and Communication: To interact and communicate in an appropriate way to individuals with disabilities is a requirement to providing accessible customer service. Always treat a person with a disability with the same respect and courtesy that you would offer to anyone else. Treat and speak to adults with disabilities as adults. Don t shout; speak at a clear, distinct and moderate pace. If it seems appropriate offer your assistance to a person with a disability, but wait until the offer is accepted before you help. When offering assistance ASK if you are unsure of what to do. Let a person with a disability make their own decisions regarding what they can or cannot do. Do not pet, feed or distract a service animal from doing its job. Physical Disabilities Physical disabilities come in many forms and types. They are not all required or have the use of mobility aides. People who have heart or lung conditions or arthritis may also have difficulty with standing, moving, sitting or the ability to reach or grasp. It is difficult to identify a person with an invisible physical disability. To interact and communicate in an appropriate way: Ask before you help. Offer, but do not insist on helping. Speak directly to the person. Provide information about our accessible features offered at our location. If you are having a conversation with a person who uses a mobility aid, sit so you are at eye level with that person

9 Blindness and Vision Loss There are varying degrees of vision loss. Vision loss can restrict the person s ability to read, recognize signs, landmarks or even faces. Some may use a cane or guide dog to assist with movement and orientation, while others may not. To interact and communicate in an appropriate way: Don t assume the individual cannot see you. Speak directly to the person. Don t leave without saying goodbye. Identify yourself upon approaching the person If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted Use specific directions like behind you on your right, avoid over there Offer your elbow to provide guidance in needed. Identify obstacles before you come to them. Do no pet, feed or distract a guide dog from doing its job. Don t touch the customer without asking. Deafness and Hearing Loss People with hearing loss from mild to profound may use aids such as implants, sign language, hearing aids and/or other communication or assistive listening devises. To interact and communicate in an appropriate way: Use eye contact or gesture to them to get their attention before you speak. Move to a well lit area where the person can see your face or read lips. Do not cover your mouth when speaking Reduce background noise or more to a quite location. Speak with a normal expression at a normal pace. Do not shout. If writing back and forth keep sentences short. Speak directly to the customer not the interpreter. Ask one question at a time Talk one at a time when in a group setting

10 Speech Disabilities For many reasons people with speech disabilities have problems with verbal communication. For an example it may have been as a result from a stroke, hearing loss, or cerebral palsy. Speech disability most often does not impact a person s ability to understand. To interact and communicate in an appropriate way: Be patient. Do not interrupt, speak for or complete sentences for the individual. When talking, speak in a regular tone as you would with anyone else. If you do not understand what they are saying let them know, use a different way of communicating, have them repeat what they say or have them write it down. Concentrate on the content of what the person is saying not their voice. Ask questions that require short answers or a gesture. Intellectual Disabilities Intellectual disabilities can be characterized by development and capacity that is significantly below average involving permanent limitation in the person s ability to learn or adapt to the environment. The effects can range from mild to profound. To interact and communicate in an appropriate way: Keep a polite and positive attitude. Be prepared to repeat or rephrase sentences. Use simple words. Keep your sentences short. Do not assume what anyone can do. Use concrete examples

11 Learning Disabilities Some learning disabilities can interfere with a person s ability to focus or concentrate, ranging from mild to severe. Some learning disabilities can make it difficult for a person to read, write, spell or solve math problems. Learning disabilities are not indicative of a person s intelligence level. To interact and communicate in an appropriate way: Ask the person how to best accommodate their needs. Minimize distractions. Keep your sentences short and clear Use gestures and/or diagrams if needed. Avoid complex words. Use simple language that is concrete. Assist them with reading or calculations. Mental Illness Unless you are told, and nor would you need too. You would normally not be aware that a person has a mental health disability. The person would look like anyone else. If it appears that a person is in a crisis or experiencing difficulty in controlling their symptoms, you may need to step in and help out. To interact and communicate in an appropriate way: Create a confident, calm professional environment. Ask how you can help them. Do not judge or talk down. Use plain and clear language. If you are not understood, repeat yourself using different words. Pay attention to non verbal cues

12 Serving People Who Use Assistive Devices Assistive devices are tools, technology or mechanisms that enable a person with a disability to do everyday tasks. Personal assistive devices can include devices such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, canes, and magnifiers, grasping tools, listening and note taking devices. Do not handle or touch assistive devises without permission. Allow customers to keep and use their assistive devices as needed. Do not move equipment or assistive devices out of the customer s reach. Advise customers of our accessible features available on the premises, for example; wheelchair accessibility, large print documents. Serving People Who Use a Service Animal People who have vision loss or are blind may use different types of service animals. Services animals are trained to assist people with a disability to open doors, retrieve items, alert of sounds such as a telephone ring in their day-to-day activities. Allow service animals to be with their owners unless prohibited by law. Do no pet, feed or distract a service animal from doing its job. Do not ask the nature of the disability of the service animal handler. Ask the person if the animal is a service animal if it is unclear

13 Serving People Who Use Support Persons A person with a disability may have a support person accompany them to help with communication, medical needs, personal care, or access to our services. A support person could be a member of the family, paid personnel, friend or volunteer. Speak directly to the customer not the support person. Allow the customer to be accompanied by the support person. Do not discuss confidential matters in the presence of a support person without getting appropriate permission from the customer first

14 EXAMPLE This notice should be posted in a prominent place. Disruption Notices Dear Guests, Our accessible washroom is out of service due to a broken pipe. A repair person will be on the premises tomorrow morning to fix it. In the interim, we have made arrangements for our customers and guests to use the accessible washroom located on the third floor of this building. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Thank you Management

15 Dear valued customer, We are committed to improving accessibility for our customers with disabilities. We value all of our customers and strive to meet your expectations. To assist us to continuously improve our services, please take a moment to provide us with your comments, questions or suggestions about the provision of our services. Please contact Customer Service in person, by mail (to 1101 Kingston Road, Suite 280, Pickering Ontario L1M 1H7) or call us directly at To share your comments via please send to Please let us know if you would like a copy of our Customer Service Policy. Customer Feedback: Please provide the date and time of your visit Did you have any problems accessing our services? Did we respond to your customer service needs? Was our customer service provided to you in an assessable manner? Please provide any additional comments you may have that may help us assist you better: Thank you Management

16 Record of Customer Feedback Date Received: Customer Name: Contact Information: Comment Details: Follow Up: Action Taken: Staff Member: Date of Action: Please Note: There may be privacy implications for organizations collecting personal information. Providers should seek their own legal advice regarding the privacy implications of collecting personal information in this manner

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