About the Author - ATN Access

 Accessibility in the Workplace - the Customer Service Standard was developed by ATN Access for Persons with Disabilities Inc. (ATN), so that companies and organizations could more easily comply with the first enforceable standard to be enacted: the Accessible Customer Service Standard. 
ATN Access has been serving persons with disabilities for more than 20 years.  Because of the types of services offered by this organization, ATN Access was AODA compliant long before the inception of this act or the passage of Bill 168.  The staff at ATN Access, the subject matter experts on accessibility and assistive technologies, created the Accessibility online training course to help promote an accessible, inclusive society for all and to assist other organizations to work towards this same goal.

FAQ about Accessibility

When did the Customer Service Standard become law?
Accessibility Standard for Customer Service (Ontario Regulation, 429/07) became law on January 1, 2008, and was phased in as follows:  designated public sector organizations by January 1, 2010; private and non-profit sectors by January 1, 2012.
Who does the Customer Service Standard apply to?
This standard applies to all businesses and organizations operating in Ontario that provide goods or services and have one or more employees.  Examples include stores, restaurants, hospitals, schools, malls, parks, libraries, manufacturers, etc.
What types of things are covered by the Customer Service Standard?
The Customer Service Standard outlines requirements such as development of policies & procedures, how to communicate with people with disabilities, provision of training for staff, service animals, support persons, and the feedback process.

What is Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)?

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) 

Ontario's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) was passed as a means to create an accessible province by the year 2025.  A series of enforceable standards have been and are in the process of being developed in pursuit of this goal. Ontario businesses with one or more employees must comply.

The first standard to become law was the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service (also referred to as theCustomer Service Standard). Compliance with this standard is required by January 1, 2012.

The Integrated Accessibility Standards combines three standards under one regulation, and includes:

  • the Employment Standard – ensures that people with disabilities have equal opportunities in the workplace
  • the Information and Communication Standard – ensures that we provide information and interact with others in an accessible manner
  • the Transportation Standard – reduces the barriers that prevents people with disabilities from moving freely from one place to another

The Integrated Standard is now law in Ontario and is being phased in between 2011 and 2021. The final standard is the Built Environment Standard which will focus on reducing the architectural barriers that exist in our buildings and communities. This standard is currently under development.

Containing a socio-evolutionary perspective, the move towards accessibility is seen as another step towards the creation of an inclusive society, and similar to past movements to reduce racial and gender barriers. It aims to dispel obsolete and stereotypical thinking in favour of a multifaceted, more realistic understanding of people who have disabilities.

Because disabilities can be visible or invisible, traditional labels of disabled/nondisabled must be abandoned. All people are unique, with different sets of strengths and abilities. Regardless of what individuals can or cannot do, everyone deserves respect.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

Changes are occurring in Ontario, particularly in light of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This provincial legislation requires that private, public and non-profit organizations work to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

Now is the time to act to ensure that your organization is accessible to people who have disabilities. Creating an accessible workplace can:

  • offer a competitive advantage, given the spending power of consumers with disabilities
  • tap into a valuable segment of the marketplace that is estimated to be approximately 15% of our population...and as our society ages, this number is expected to grow

Accessibility in the Workplace - the Customer Service Standard

atn access inc

ATN Access Inc. has developed an online training course to assist organizations in meeting these legislative requirements and implementing changes.  Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act - Accessibility in the Workplace provides employees the information they need to know in order to comply with the first standard, the Customer Service Standardand to prepare for forthcoming Integrated Accessibility Standards.

Content of this online training course is structured into 3 modules:

  • Defining Disabilities
  • AODA Overview
  • Customer Service Standard

Accessibility in the Workplace>includes realistic examples and scenarios as well as thought provoking questions for further discussion among colleagues about how information contained in the course can be applied in your organization.

While there is no one best way to interact with others, there are things that we can do to facilitate communication.  Accessibility in the Workplace  describes assistive technologies and explains how they can compensate for various functional limitations. It suggests low, medium and high-tech devices that individuals may bring with them to use or that organizations may consider providing to assist customers or clients.

Accessibility in the Workplace also provides advice regarding appropriate etiquette when interacting with people who rely on assistive devices, service animals or support persons, and guidelines on how to communicate with individuals who may have particular functional or sensory limitations.

With training, not only can your organization comply with the AODA Customer Service Standard, you will also be given information to allow you to prepare for the remaining standards.  The more you can do to increase workplace accessibility, the more you can stay ahead of the curve – and the competition.  Change is coming!

For further detail regarding this course, please refer to Accessibility course description and objectives.

Resources you may be interested in:

For further detail regarding this course, please refer to: