The Customer service Standards under the AODA and the Accessible Customer service Standard under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act both require organizations to make service accessible to customers with disabilities. Moreover, both standards require many of the same processes and practices to ensure accessibility. However, there are many important differences between the standards. The third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should coordinate with other provinces and the federal government to ensure that accessibility laws are consistent across Canada. Therefore, requirements in the AODA may one day change to align with mandates under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act. In this article, we will explore accessible customer service training in Ontario and Manitoba.
Accessible Customer service Training in Ontario and Manitoba
The AODA’s Customer service Standards and the Accessible Customer service Standard of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) both require accessible customer service training. In both provinces, organizations must train their staff to provide accessible service to customers with disabilities. Staff who should receive this training include:
- Staff involved in creating and implementing their organizations’ policies
- Any other person who serves the public on behalf of their organization
This training must teach all these workers and volunteers how to:
- Communicate and interact with people who have disabilities, including people who use:
- Operate any equipment or devices their organization has to support customers’ access
- Assist customers who are having difficulty accessing goods or services
Moreover, training must also include overviews of the provincial:
- Accessibility law (the AODA or AMA)
- Customer service standard
Employees and volunteers must receive this training as soon as possible after they start their new positions. In addition, all these staff members should receive updated training whenever their organization changes policies, practices, or measures for accessible customer service. Finally, all public-sector organizations, and large private-sector organizations, must have written policies for accessible customer service training. These policies should outline the content of training, as well as when training should take place.
Training in both provinces must teach staff to provide access to goods and services. However, under the AODA, staff in Ontario must also have training to provide access to facilities. In other words, staff should have training to mitigate any physical accessibility barriers on their premises.
On the other hand, staff in Manitoba should receive training not only on the AMA and the Customer Service Standard, but also on provincial human rights law.
Improvements to Accessible Customer Service Training
According to the Third Review of the AODA, the requirements for AODA customer service training need many improvements. One of these improvements is the need for training about specific barriers that customers with disabilities face. Therefore, accessible customer service training under the AMA could benefit from similar improvement. Standards development committees in Ontario and Manitoba may one day work together to align their provinces’ standards for accessible customer service. Coordinating these standards would give both regions the opportunity to create strong mandates for accessible customer service training.