The College is committed to ensuring people with disabilities receive respectful and appropriate customer service when visiting the College or communicating with our staff.
We’ve recently implemented new measures as part of our commitment to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), developed to make the province barrier-free by 2025.
As a first step, organizations and businesses are implementing new customer service accessibility standards.
Organizations and businesses are also responsible for establishing multi-year plans to meet the accessibility standards for each of information and communications, employment, transportation and public spaces.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)?
The Act aims to make Ontario barrier-free by developing accessibility standards in five areas: customer service, employment, information and communications, transportation and built environment. One in seven people in Ontario have a disability, and over the next 20 years, that number is expected to rise to one in five.
To improve accessibility for all Ontarians, businesses with at least one employee must comply with the first accessibility standard – customer service – by January 1, 2012. The remainder of the standards will be implemented in stages over the next few years.
What does accessible customer service mean?
There are different types of disabilities, some visible, some invisible. The customer service accessibility standards were designed to remove barriers faced by those with vision, hearing, mental health, learning, physical, intellectual, speech or language disabilities.
Offering accessible customer service is not just about making physical changes to a building. It is about understanding that customers with disabilities may have different needs. Helping someone with a disability may be as simple as asking, “How can I help?”
Does the College have a policy relating to accessible customer service?
Yes. The policy outlines our commitment to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and highlights the specific measures we are implementing. Read the full policy.
What does this mean for the Ontario College of Teachers?
The College has always aimed to provide accessible customer service and will continue to implement new measures. Under the College’s customer service policy, employees are expected to deliver service that acknowledges the nature of an individual’s disability and respects a person’s desire for independence, dignity and equal opportunity.
Currently, the College communicates with its clients with disabilities in a variety of ways. For example, the College receives and responds to enquiries from members and from the public in person, on the telephone, using TTY services and through email.
Building on its model of excellent customer service, the College will implement several measures. Some measures include:
- assisting persons with disabilities, over the phone or in person, to fill out College forms
- installing screen reader software on computers in the public areas of the College to serve individuals who are visually impaired
- updating the College’s website to include copies of College documents that can be read by using screen reader software, including our customer service policy.
- bringing in a support person, for example a sign language interpreter, or welcoming the use of service animals to assist during College-sponsored events or activities when requested
- establishing a feedback mechanism on the College website so that individuals can comment or give suggestions about the College’s service to persons with disabilities.
Do College employees receive customer service accessibility training?
Yes. The College recognizes that barriers, like disabilities, can be invisible. The College is educating staff about different kinds of disabilities and how to offer help that is appropriate and respectful.
Customer service accessibility training is provided for all College staff and will be enhanced to include comprehensive training for employees who have regular interaction with College members and the public, and includes:
- how to interact and communicate with persons with various types of disabilities
- how to interact with persons with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a guide dog or other service animal or the assistance of a support person
- how to use equipment or devices available on the College’s premises or otherwise provided by the College that may help with the provision of goods and services to a person with a disability
- what to do if a person with a particular type of disability is having difficulty accessing the College’s goods or services
- how to provide notices about any temporary disruptions in services through outgoing TTY message, on the College’s telephone greeting or through push email.
Does the College have a multi-year accessibility plan?
Yes. The College’s multi-year accessibility plan outlines the related policies and actions the College has or will have in place to ensure specific accessibility standards for information and communication, employment and public spaces within a specific timeframe.
The College will review this multi-year plan on a five year cycle to ensure its ongoing relevance.
How can I learn more about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or the College’s policy?
For more information about the College’s policy, its multi-year plan or to provide feedback about the College’s services for persons with disabilities, contact Client Services at 416-961-8800, toll-free in Ontario at 1-888-534-222, by TTY at 416-961-6331 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can visit the Ministry of Community and Social Services website for further information about the Act.