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Temporary Service Disruptions: When and How to Notify Customers

Under the Customer Service Standard of the AODA, service providers must notify customers about temporary service disruptions. Temporary service disruptions happen when services that customers with disabilities might rely on are temporarily unavailable.

Temporary Service Disruptions

There are many reasons why different kinds of services might be temporarily unavailable, including:

  • Scheduled maintenance on structural features, such as:
    • Accessible parking spaces
    • Ramps
  • Unexpected events, such as:
    • An out-of-order accessible washroom
    • A broken elevator or lift
  • Technical difficulties, such as with:
    • Captioning equipment
    • TTY technology
    • Hardware for making alternate formats, like photo-copiers or Braille printers
    • Software, like screen readers or speech recognition programs
    • Systems for broadcasting audio or visual announcements
  • Staff shortages, such as the absence of:
    • An ASL interpreter

When and How to Notify

It is important for service providers to inform the public about service disruptions as soon as possible. When a provider knows in advance about a coming disruption, such as elevator maintenance, the provider should give the public advance notice as well. When the disruption is unexpected, like a technological glitch with captioning equipment, the provider should let the public know as soon as possible.

What Notifications Should Include

Moreover, whether notifications offer advance notice or breaking news, they should include:

  • What the disrupted service is
  • The reason for the disruption
  • How long the disruption will last
  • Alternate methods of service

These details will help customers plan how they want or need to proceed. Some customers may prefer to use the service they normally use and will want to know when it will be available again. Others may need service at a certain time, even if the service they normally use is still disrupted. They will need to know how the provider will meet their needs in spite of the disruption. Some alternate methods of service include meeting customers outside the premises or on the first floor, using other communication strategies, or recommending other locations where the customer can access needed services immediately.

Notification Formats

Furthermore, providers must post notifications in different places and formats so that all customers have access to them. Providers can post signs outside their doors and next to the disrupted service. Additionally, they should alert all customer service personnel to the disruption so that staff can give customers the information in person. Finally, they should also post notifications on their websites and on phone-answering services, such as answering machines or automated answering systems.

When providers alert the public to temporary service disruptions, they show customers that they understand their specific needs. When they make alternative arrangements to meet those needs if services are disrupted, customers view them as reliable no matter what.