The Customer Service Standard of the AODA gives service providers guidelines on how to start making their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. The Standard mandates that service providers must offer accessibility features in customer service by:
- Training staff to interact with customers who have disabilities, including customers using:
In addition to welcoming customers who bring assistance with them, service providers can also offer customers the use of assistive features on-site.
Accessibility Features in Customer Service
Providers may have assistive devices or accessible services on-site. For instance:
- Assistive listening systems
- Sign language interpretation
- Closed, open, or real-time captioning
- Communication boards
- Augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) devices
- Braille or large print resources, such as:
- Event programs
- Bank statements
- Bills or receipts
- Video description
- Computers with accessible features, such as:
- Screen readers or magnifiers
- Braille displays or embossers
- Speech recognition software
Advertising Accessibility Features
Providers should advertise all these services and devices so that they will attract customers wishing to use them. Providers can notify the public of their equipment or features on signage, through their websites, using messages on automated phone-answering systems, and in person. For instance, if a customer comes into a restaurant with a white cane, their server should ask whether the customer would like a Braille or large-print menu. When providers do not have some of these services or features, staff and policies can provide alternative ways to make their services accessible to more customers. For example, servers can offer to read menus aloud to customers with visual disabilities. Providers should also recognize that people with invisible disabilities may need the same services. For example, a customer with a learning disability may ask a server to read a menu.
Accessibility features in customer service allow providers to serve the growing market of customers with disabilities. Moreover, providers can continue to serve customers who become disabled if they make their premises accessible. In addition, there are many ways for staff to provide a welcoming and inclusive customer experience even when providers do not have certain equipment or features.