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AODA – Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) Customer Service Policy

(Note: This policy has been updated to reflect the July 1, 2018, changes to the regulations under Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act.)

Overview

Overlap Associates recognizes the importance of inclusion for persons with disabilities and is committed to developing and implementing standards in order to achieve accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodations, and employment.

Accessibility Feedback Form

Intent

All goods and services provided by Overlap Associates will follow the principles of dignity, independence, integration, and equal opportunity.

This policy meets the requirements of the customer service standards included in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. It applies to the provision of goods and services to the public or other third parties, not to the goods themselves.

Definitions

Assistive device: A technical aid, communication device, or other instrument that is used to maintain or improve the functional abilities of people with disabilities. Personal assistive devices are typically devices that customers bring with them, such as a wheelchair, walker, or a personal oxygen tank, and that might assist in hearing, seeing, communicating, moving, breathing, remembering, or reading.

Disability: As defined by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and the Ontario Human Rights Code, refers to:

  • Any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation, or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect, or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device;
  • A condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability;
  • A learning disability, or dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language;
  • A mental disorder; or
  • An injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

Guide dog: A highly-trained working dog that has been trained at one of the facilities listed in Ontario Regulation 58 under the Blind Persons’ Rights Act, to provide mobility, safety, and increased independence for people who are blind.

Service animal: A service animal for a person with a disability if:

  • The animal can be readily identified as one that is being used by the person for reasons relating to the person’s disability, as a result of visual indicators such as the vest or harness worn by the animal; or
  • The person provides documentation from a member of one of the following regulated health professional colleges confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability:
    • College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario; College of Chiropractors of Ontario;
    • College of Nurses of Ontario;
    • College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario; College of Optometrists of Ontario;
    • College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario; College of Physiotherapists of Ontario;
    • College of Psychologists of Ontario; or
    • College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario.

Support person: In relation to a person with a disability, another person who accompanies them in order to help with communication, mobility, personal care, medical needs, or access to goods and services.

Guidelines

The Provision of Goods and Services to Persons with Disabilities

Overlap Associates will make every reasonable effort to ensure that its policies, practices, and procedures are consistent with the principles of dignity, independence, integration, and equal opportunity by:

  • Ensuring that all customers receive the same value and quality;
  • Allowing customers with disabilities to do things in their own ways, at their own pace when accessing goods and services, as long as this does not present a health and safety risk;
  • Using alternative methods when possible to ensure that customers with disabilities have access to the same services, in the same place and in a similar manner;
  • Taking into account individual accommodation needs when providing goods and services; and
  • Communicating in a manner that takes into account the customer’s disability.

The Use of Assistive Devices

Customer’s Own Assistive Devices

Persons with disabilities may use their own assistive devices as required when accessing goods or services provided by the company.

In cases where the assistive device presents a health and safety concern or where accessibility might be an issue, other reasonable measures will be used to ensure the access of goods and services, up to the point of undue hardship.

For example, open flames and oxygen tanks cannot be near one another. Therefore, the accommodation of a customer with an oxygen tank might involve ensuring the customer is in a location that would be considered safe for both the customer and business.

Alternatively, where elevators are not present and where a customer requires assistive devices for the purposes of mobility, service will be provided in a location that meets the needs of the customer.

Guide Dogs and Service Animals

A customer with a disability who is accompanied by a guide dog or service animal will be allowed access to premises that are open to the public unless otherwise excluded by law. “No pet” policies do not apply to guide dogs or service animals.

Staff may respectfully ask if an animal is a service animal and will not ask the nature of the person’s disability or purpose of the animal.

Food Service Areas

A customer with a disability who is accompanied by guide dog or service animal will be allowed access to food service areas that are open to the public unless otherwise excluded by law.

Other types of service animals are only permitted into areas where food is served, sold, or offered for sale due to the Health Protection and Promotion Act, Ontario Regulation 493/17.

Exclusion Guidelines

If a customer’s guide dog or service animal is excluded by law (see applicable laws below), Overlap Associates will offer alternative methods to enable the person with a disability to access goods and services, when possible. For example, the company might accommodate a customer’s disability by securing the animal in a safe location and offering the assistance of an employee to facilitate the delivery of goods and services.

Applicable Laws

Food Safety and Quality Act,2001, Ontario Regulation 31/05: Animals not intended for slaughter or to be euthanized are not allowed in any area or room of a meat plant. An exception is made for service dogs to allow them in those areas of a meat plant where food is served, sold, or offered for sale to customers and in those areas that do not contain animals or animal parts and are not used for the receiving, processing, packaging, labelling, shipping, handling, or storing of animals or parts of animals.

Dog Owners’ Liability Act, 2005: If there is a conflict between a provision of this legislation or of a regulation under this or any other act relating to banned breeds (such as pit bulls) and a provision of a by-law passed by a municipality relating to these breeds, the provision that is more restrictive in relation to controls or bans on these breeds prevails. Staff will respectfully explain that the service animal must be removed from the public area due to a municipal by-law and make alternate arrangements or provide the service outside the public area.

Recognizing a Guide Dog or Service Animal:

If it is not readily apparent that the animal is being used by the customer for reasons relating to their disability, Overlap Associates may request verification from the customer.

Care and Control of the Animal:

The customer who is accompanied by a guide dog or service animal is responsible for maintaining care and control of the animal at all times.

Allergies and Other Health and Safety Concerns

If a health and safety concern presents itself, for example, in the form of a severe allergy to the animal, Overlap Associates will make all reasonable efforts to meet the needs of all individuals. Pursuant to the company’s obligations under the Human Rights Code and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, each customer’s accommodation needs will be considered on a case-by-case basis, up to the point of undue hardship.

Due diligence needs to be paid to address health and safety requirements. For example, if a person’s health and safety could be seriously affected by the presence of a service animal on the premises open to the public, management must fully analyze all options for safely accommodating the service animal. Options could include creating distance between the two individuals to eliminate in-person contact, changing the time the two individuals receive service or using air purifiers and other measures that could allow the person to use their service animal on the premises.

In very exceptional circumstances where a service animal becomes out of control, causing a clear disruption or a threat to the health and safety of others, and the animal’s behaviour is not corrected by the owner, a person with a disability can be asked to remove their service animal from the premises.

As a courtesy, particularly if the person and service animal have been in attendance on the premises for a long time, staff may ask whether the animal requires water, may designate an area in which the service animal can relieve itself, or ask whether the staff can be of assistance pertaining to the service animal.

The Use of Support Persons

If a customer with a disability is accompanied by a support person, Overlap Associates will ensure that both persons may enter the premises together and that the customer is not prevented from having access to the support person.

There may be times where seating and availability prevent the customer and support person from sitting beside each other. In these situations, the company will make every reasonable attempt to resolve the issue.

In situations where confidential information might be discussed, consent will be obtained from the customer before any potentially confidential information is mentioned.

Admission Fees

Where the company requires a support person to accompany a person with a disability, and where the person with a disability has agreed to the accompaniment, the company will not charge the support person any fees or fares.

Notice of Disruptions in Service

Service disruptions may occur for reasons that may or may not be within the control or knowledge of Overlap Associates. In the event of any temporary disruptions to facilities or services that customers with disabilities rely on to access or use goods or services, reasonable efforts will be made to provide advance notice. In some circumstances, such as in the situation of unplanned temporary disruptions, advance notice may not be possible.

If a notification needs to be posted, the following information will be included unless it is not readily available or known:

  • Goods or services that are disrupted or unavailable;
  • Reason for the disruption;
  • Anticipated duration; and
  • A description of alternative services or options.

Notification Options

When disruptions occur, Overlap Associates will provide notice by:

  • Posting notices in conspicuous places, including at the point of disruption, at the main entrance, and the nearest accessible entrance to the service disruption, or on the company website;
  • Contacting customers with appointments;
  • Verbally notifying customers when they make a reservation or appointment; or
  • By any other method that may be reasonable under the circumstances.

Customer Feedback

Overlap Associates shall provide customers with the opportunity to provide feedback on the service provided to customers with disabilities. Information about the feedback process will be readily available to all customers and notice of the process will be made available by  Feedback form located on our website.  Alternate methods of providing feedback may also be done verbally  (in person or by telephone) or written (handwritten, delivered, website, or e-mail), Assistance with providing feedback is available upon request.

Submitting Feedback

Accessibility Feedback Form

Customers can submit feedback to:

  • Name: Tracy Jolliffe, Executive and Office Assistant
  • Phone: 226-317-0305
  • Email: tjolliffe@overlapassociates.com
  • Mailing Address: 305 King Street West, Suite 1002 Kitchener, ON Canada N2G 1B9

Customers who wish to provide feedback by completing an onsite customer feedback form or verbally can do so to any Overlap Associates employee.

Customers who provide formal feedback will receive acknowledgment of their feedback, along with any resulting actions based on concerns or complaints that were submitted.

Training

Training will be provided to:

  • Every employee of or a volunteer with Overlap Associates;
  • Every person who participates in developing the policies of Overlap Associates; and
  • Every other person who provides goods, services, or facilities on behalf of Overlap Associates.

Training Provisions

Regardless of the format, training will cover the following:

  • A review of the purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005;
  • A review of the requirements of the customer service standards;
  • Instructions on how to interact and communicate with people with various types of disabilities;
  • Instructions on how to interact with people with disabilities who:
    • Use assistive devices;
    • Require the assistance of a guide dog or other service animal; or
    • Require the use of a support person (including the handling of admission fees);
  • Instructions on how to use equipment or devices that are available at our premises or that we provide that may help people with disabilities;
  • Instructions on what to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty accessing our services; and
  • Policies, procedures, and practices of the company pertaining to providing accessible customer service to customers with disabilities.

Training Schedule

Overlap Associates will provide training as soon as practicable. Training will be provided to new employees, volunteers, agents, and contractors during orientation. Revised training will be provided in the event of changes to legislation, procedures, policies, or  practices.

Record of Training

Overlap Associates will keep a record of training that includes the dates training was provided and the number of employees who attended the training.

AODA Employment Standards Policy –  Ontario

This document addresses Parts I and III of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation in force as of January 1, 2017.

Intent

Overlap Associates is dedicated to providing accessible services and work environment for all employees, prospective employees, and clients. This policy outlines the company’s compliance with Parts I and III of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) set forth under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).

This policy ensures Overlap Associates provides services and employment practices that follow the principles of dignity, independence, integration, and equal opportunity.

Definitions

  • Accessible format: Includes large print, recorded audio and electronic formats, braille, and other formats usable by persons with disabilities.
  • Communication supports: Includes captioning, alternative and augmentative communication supports, plain language, sign language, and other supports that facilitate effective communication.
  • Information: Includes data, facts, and knowledge that exists in any format, including text, audio, digital, or images, and conveys meaning.
  • Career development and advancement: Additional responsibilities within an employee’s current position and the movement of an employee from one job to another in an organization or any combination of them. Both additional responsibilities and employee movement are usually based on merit, seniority, or a combination of both.
  • Performance management: Activities related to assessing and improving employee performance, productivity, and effectiveness with the goal of facilitating employee success.
  • Redeployment: The reassignment of employees to other departments or jobs within the organization as an alternative to layoff, when a particular job or department has been eliminated by the organization.
  • Support person: In relation to a person with a disability, another person who accompanies a person with a disability in order to help with communication, mobility, personal care, or medical needs, or with access to goods, services, or facilities.

General Principles

Establishment of Accessibility Policies and Plans

Overlap Associates will develop, implement, and maintain policies governing how it will achieve accessibility through these requirements.

The company is committed to meeting the accessibility needs of persons with disabilities in a timely manner. This is reflected in policies, which upon request will be made publicly available in an accessible format.

The company will establish, implement, maintain, and document a multi-year accessibility plan outlining its strategy to prevent and remove barriers and meet its requirements under the IASR. Accessibility plans will be made available in an accessible format upon request, and will be posted on its website.

The company will review and update its accessibility plan once every five years and will establish, review, and update its accessibility plans in consultation with persons with disabilities or an advisory committee. Annual status reports will be prepared to report on the progress of the steps taken in implementing the companies’ accessibility plan. This status report will be posted on our website. If requested, the report will be created in an accessible format.

Training Requirements

Overlap Associates will provide training for its employees and volunteers regarding the IASR and the Ontario Human Rights Code as they pertain to individuals with disabilities. Training will also be provided to individuals who are responsible for developing the companies’ policies, and all other persons who provide goods, services, or facilities on behalf of the company.

Training will be provided as soon as is reasonably practicable.  Training will be provided regularly to new employees and as changes to the companies’ accessibility policies occur.

Overlap Associates will maintain records on the training provided, when it was provided, and the number of employees who were trained.

Recruitment, Assessment and Selection

Overlap Associates will notify employees and the public about the availability of accommodation for job applicants who have disabilities. Applicants will be informed that these accommodations are available, upon request, for the interview process and for other candidate selection methods. Where an accommodation is requested, the company will consult with the applicant and provide or arrange for suitable accommodations in a manner that takes into account the applicant’s accessibility needs due to disability.

Successful applicants will be made aware of the company’s policies and supports for accommodating people with disabilities.

Accessible Formats and Communication Supports for Employees

Overlap Associates will ensure that employees are aware of policies for employees with disabilities and any changes to these policies as they occur. The company will provide the information required to new employees as soon as practicable after they begin their employment.

If an employee with a disability requests it, the company will provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for the following:

  • Information needed in order to perform their job; and
  • Information that is generally available to all employees in the workplace.

The company will consult with the employee making the request to determine the best way to provide the accessible format or communication support.

Workplace Emergency Response Information

Where required, Overlap Associates will create individualized workplace emergency response plans for employees with disabilities. This information will be created in consultation with the employee and take into account the unique challenges created by the individual’s disability and the physical nature of the workplace.

This information will be reviewed when:

  • The employee moves to a different physical location in the organization;
  • The employee’s overall accommodation needs or plans are reviewed; or
  • The company reviews general emergency response policies.

Documented Individual Accommodation Plans

Overlap Associates will develop and have in place written processes for documenting individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities. The development process for these plans will   include:

  • The ways in which the employee can participate in the development of the plan;
  • The means by which the employee is assessed individually;
  • The ways that an employer can request an evaluation by an outside medical expert, or other experts (at the employer’s expense) to determine whether accommodation can be achieved, or how it can be achieved;
  • The ways that an employee can request the participation of a representative from their bargaining agent or other representative from the workplace (if the employee is not represented by a bargaining agent) for the creation of the accommodation plan;
  • The steps taken to protect the privacy of the employee’s personal information;
  • The frequency with which the individual accommodation plan should be reviewed or updated and how it should be done;
  • The way in which the reasons for the denial of an individual accommodation plan will be provided to the employee; and
  • The means of providing the accommodation plan in an accessible format, based on the employee’s accessibility needs.

The individual accommodation should also include information regarding accessible formats, communication supports (upon request), individualized workplace emergency response information, and any other accommodation provided.

Return to Work

Overlap Associates will develop and implement return-to-work processes for employees who are absent from work due to a disability and require disability-related accommodations in order to return to work.

This process will outline the steps the company will take to enable a smooth return to work for the employee. All steps and individual accommodation plans will be documented and created in consultation with the employee.

Performance Management and Career Changes

Overlap Associates will consider the accessibility needs, including documented individual accommodation plans, of employees with disabilities during the company’s performance management process. These will also be considered in the event of redeployment, or when offering career development or advancement opportunities.

Review

This policy will be reviewed regularly to ensure that it reflects current practices of Overlap Associates as well as legislative requirements.

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