Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. In our last article, we outlined features that make private offices accessible for clientele with disabilities. In this article, we will cover best practices for accessible information in offices.
Accessible Information in Offices
Clients can use accessible computers or phones to read websites that follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Therefore, offices should ensure that their websites follow these guidelines. Moreover, they should post as much information as possible about their features, events, and services on their accessible websites. For instance, they should post:
- What accessible structural features they have, and where these features are located
- Processes clients must follow to receive service, such as:
- What services a facility provides
- Whether clients should book appointments, and how to do so
- What documentation clients need to bring with them, or what forms they need to fill in
Offices should also provide print information, like forms or pamphlets, in accessible formats. For instance:
- Large print
- Online on accessible websites
- Accessible Word or HTML files
Staff should tell every client about all the formats they have information available in.
Offices can create their own hard-copy large-print or Braille if they have photo-copiers or Braille embossers. Alternatively, they can have a third party produce hard-copy Braille or large-print documents. In addition, offices can produce versions of hard-copy content in accessible web formats.
Likewise, offices should be prepared to work with clients who use communication supports during appointments or other interactions with staff. For instance, clients may need:
- Sign language interpretation
- Communication devices, such as assistive listening devices or communication boards
- Plain-language versions of documents
Moreover, offices should make clients aware that communication supports are available on-site or can be arranged. For example, offices can advertise where clients can find plain-language information and specify how far in advance clients should arrange Sign language interpretation. In addition, offices should be prepared to work with clients who communicate in various ways, such as by speechreading or through a support person.
Accessible information in offices ensures that all clients have equal opportunities to access services. Our next article will discuss how offices can provide an accessible service experience.