Beginning January 1, 2012, all providers of goods and services within the province of Ontario, including charities and not-for-profit organizations will be required to comply with parts of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This legislation affects every Ontario PSO, as well as MSOs and NSOs that have offices in Ontario.
The AODA requires that providers of goods and services establish policies, practices, and procedures governing the provision of its goods or services to persons with disabilities and mandates that reasonable efforts be taken to ensure that these policies are consistent with certain prescribed principles defined in the legislation.
The AODA has set out certain standards that must be met by service providers and the relevant compliance dates for same. There are three (3) identified standards:
1) Customer Service Standard
2) Integrated Accessibility Standard (includes Employment, Transportation, Communication/Information)
3) Built Environment Standard
This article will focus only on the Customer Service Standard because this is the standard that requires compliance by January, 2012.
CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARD – SUMMARY OF REQUIREMENTS
All not-for profit organizations with at least one employee must comply with the 11 requirements summarized below. Organizations with 20 or more employees will have three additional requirements to meet, which will also be discussed below.
This list is a plain language summary of the requirements, it does not include the full details of the requirements.
What does this mean for not-for profit sport organizations?
If you have at least one employee, you must:
- Establish policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities
- Use reasonable efforts to ensure that your policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the core principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality of opportunity
- Set a policy on allowing people to use their own personal assistive devices to access your goods and use your services and about any other measures your organization offers (assistive devices, services, or methods) to enable them to access your goods and use your services
- Communicate with a person with a disability in a manner that takes into account his or her disability
- Allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by their guide dog or service animal in those areas of the premises you own or operate that are open to the public, unless the animal is excluded by another law. If a service animal is excluded by law, use other measures to provide services to the person with a disability
- Permit people with disabilities who use a support person to bring that person with them while accessing goods or services in premises open to the public or third parties
- Where admission fees are charged, provide notice ahead of time on what admission, if any, would be charged for a support person of a person with a disability
- Provide notice when facilities or services that people with disabilities rely on to access or use your goods or services are temporarily disrupted
- Train staff, volunteers, contractors and any other people who interact with the public or other third parties on your behalf on a number of topics as outlined in the customer service standard – this includes coaches, referees and judges!
- Train staff, volunteers, contractors and any other people who are involved in developing your policies, practices and procedures on the provision of goods or services on a number of topics as outlined in the customer service standard
- Establish a process for people to provide feedback on how you provide goods or services to people with disabilities and how you will respond to any feedback and take action on any complaints. Make the information about your feedback process readily available to the public
If you have 20 or more employees, you must also:
- Document in writing all your policies, practices and procedures for providing accessible customer service and meet other document requirements set out in the standard
- Notify customers that documents required under the customer service standard are available upon request
- When giving documents required under the customer service standard to a person with a disability, provide the information in a format that takes into account the person’s disability
January, 2012 is coming fast! If your organization wishes to learn more about the AODA and what you should be doing to ensure compliance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to provide a presentation to your organization, assist in developing your accessibility plan/policy, and answer any questions you may have on the topic. LeeAnn Cupidio (email@example.com) and Steve Indig (firstname.lastname@example.org)