As the New Year approaches we will all inevitably start putting together our resolutions for the coming year. Most of those resolutions will go out the door by February 1st, but there is one that needs to stick; creating an inclusive environment for people with disabilities. As of January 1st, 2015 the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires every workplace to have a concrete policy in place to make accessible customer service available to all Ontarians. When the AODA was passed in 2005 it ushered in a new era of inclusivity in Ontario but 10 years later, we are still seeing companies lag behind in its implementation. If there are 20 or more employees at your company you must be providing accessible customer service, which can be accomplished in 3 simple steps:
- Step 1: Develop a policy that outlines how you will provide goods and services to people with disabilities.
- Step 2: Provide training for yourself and your staff to understand how to best serve all customers with disabilities
- Step 3: Using the customer service policy template, post your policy and training publicly and in a format accessible for everyone.
Moving forward after the AODA deadline, each company must also come up with a firm policy for dealing with accessibility moving forward, ensuring new workplaces, self-service kiosks and even websites can be used by anyone.
In theory, these policies and training should already be in place at all businesses across Ontario. While the government does its best to ensure this is the case, it can’t possibly police every single workplace in the Province. The onus is on us, the business owners, to ensure this legislation is carried out.
Unfortunately, many people don’t understand the impact this legislation will have on their own lives in the future. As the huge Baby Boomer generation continues to age, we will inevitably see many of them using wheelchairs, walkers, canes and the like. Ironically, it is many of these baby boomers that have the power to create accessible workplaces, but many are choosing to ignore the legislation or do the bare minimum. Every Ontarian deserves to have access to the same goods and services. Denying anyone that right does not make good business sense.
At Bizlife Solutions we have developed the Helping Hands program to give companies a complete solution for AODA compliance. With a comprehensive manual filled with policies, procedures and programs coupled with our online training modules, we make it easy for companies to live up to the highest standard of accessible customer service. We don’t just tell you how to become compliant; we give you the tools to actually make it happen.
Compliance doesn’t have to be difficult. Let us give you some Helping Hands.