Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, providers must make documentation about their accessibility available to customers with disabilities upon request. This part of the Standards applies to all public sector organizations, and private sector organizations with twenty or more workers. These service providers must offer accessible information in customer service.
Accessible Information in Customer Service
Service providers need to create written versions of their customer service policies. They must outline their procedures on how they will:
- Welcome service animals and support persons
- Notify customers about temporary service disruptions
- Train workers to serve customers with disabilities
- Receive and respond to accessibility feedback
Customers may sometimes request a copy of any of these documents in an accessible format.
For example, some accessible formats that customers may request are:
- Large print
- Online on an accessible website
Likewise, customers may need communication supports. For instance, they may request:
- Reading aloud
- Plain language
While some customers may request a certain format or support, others may list a few formats or supports they can use so that the provider can choose one. Providers must consult with the customer to find out what format(s) or support(s) will work best for them. Then, the provider must produce the document in that format or with that support. If a provider cannot produce the document themselves, they must arrange for another provider to create it for them. Providers must make documentation available in a timely manner, and for no higher cost than they would charge a non-disabled customer for the document in its original format.
Accessible Information Online
Service providers must also work on making any information on their websites accessible. The Information and Communications Standards of the AODA mandate that all Ontario public sector organizations, and all private sector organizations with fifty or more workers, must make their websites accessible by 2021. Organizations with twenty to forty-nine workers may also choose to champion web accessibility. To do so, organizations must comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. This international standard gives web developers guidelines on how to make their webpages accessible to computer users with disabilities.
Other Types of Accessible Information
In addition to accessible documentation and websites, providers must make many other kinds of information available to customers with disabilities. The Information and Communications Standards mandate that providers must offer any information they produce in accessible formats or with communication supports upon request. For instance, types of information that customers might request are:
- Lectures or presentations
- Movies or other videos at theatres or screenings
- Pamphlets advertising sales or services
- Bills and receipts
- Restaurant menus
- Event programs
- Bank statements
- Educational or library materials
Some accessible formats and communication supports that customers may request, in addition to the ones listed above, are:
- Sign language interpretation
- Descriptive video
- Contact by email instead of by phone
Accessible information in customer service enables all customers to know the same things about what providers offer. Accessibility also ensures that all customers can do business or take part in leisure activities in their communities.