Purpose and application

Current regulation

The Customer Service Standard establishes requirements for the provision of accessible customer service which apply to every designated public sector organization and to every other person or organization that provides goods or services to members of the public or other third parties and that has at least one employee in Ontario.

The Customer Service Standard provides the following definitions:

  • "Designated public sector organization" means the Legislative Assembly and the offices of persons appointed on the address of the Assembly, every ministry of the Government of Ontario, every municipality, and every person or organization listed in Schedule 1 or described in Schedule 2 of the regulation (including boards, commissions, authorities, agencies, district school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities, and public transportation organizations).
  • "Provider of goods or services" means a person or organization to whom the Customer Service Standard applies.

Proposed change

It is proposed that the types and definitions of obligated organizations under the Customer Service Standard be matched with those of other accessibility standards as follows:

  • designated public sector organization
  • Government of Ontario
  • large designated public sector organization
  • large organization
  • Legislative Assembly
  • small designated public sector organization
  • small organization

It is also proposed that the term "facilities" be included throughout the Customer Service Standard where there are currently references to "goods and services" (i.e. "goods, services and facilities").

For the purpose of the Customer Service Standard, "facilities" refers to services in buildings or premises that are offered for use to members of the public or third parties (e.g. stadium, banquet hall). It does not refer to the structure or physical features of the built environment which are covered by the building code.

Explanation

This means removing the definitions of "designated public sector organization" and "provider of goods and services" under the Customer Service Standard and replacing them with the definitions under the other accessibility standards.

As a result, in this section and everywhere else in the document, references to a "provider" of goods and services have been replaced with "obligated organization" to match the other accessibility standards.

The proposed change would reduce inconsistencies across all accessibility standards.

The recommendation to include the term "facilities" throughout the Customer Service Standard would match language used throughout all other accessibility standards that refer to goods, services and facilities. It is not intended to change which organizations must comply with the Customer Service Standard, but better reflects the nature of businesses across Ontario and what they provide to customers. The addition of the term "facilities" is intended to reflect when facilities are provided as a service, and does not refer to facilities as a physical structure.

Class structure

Current regulation

The Customer Service Standard establishes different requirements for private and not-for-profit organizations (i.e. other providers of goods and services) based on the number of employees:

  • Private and not-for-profit organizations are defined as having between 1-19 employees (small).
  • Private and not-for-profit organizations are defined as having 20 or more employees (large).

Proposed change

It is proposed that the class structure under the Customer Service Standard be changed to match that of the other accessibility standards, as follows:

  • Private and not-for-profit organizations would be defined as having between 1-49 employees (small).
  • Private and not-for-profit organizations would be defined as having 50 or more employees (large).

Requirements under the Customer Service Standard that currently apply to organizations with 20 or more employees would now apply to organizations with 50 or more employees.

Proposed changes regarding class structure would be reflected in the requirements for private and not-for profit organizations under the following sections of the Customer Service Standard:

  • Establishment of policies, practices and procedures
  • Service animals
  • Support persons
  • Notice of temporary disruptions
  • Training
  • Feedback process
  • Notice of availability of documents

Explanation

This proposed change would match the class structure of the Customer Service Standard with the class structure of the other four accessibility standards (employment; information and communications; transportation; and the design of public spaces). The proposed change would result in a consistent definition of private and not-for-profit organizations, would simplify requirements, and would reduce inconsistencies across all accessibility standards.

For example, with this proposed change, organizations with 20-49 employees would continue to be required to establish policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of goods or services to people with disabilities (as required under Section 3 of the Customer Service Standard). However, these organizations would no longer be required to prepare one or more documents describing their policies, practices and procedures or to provide these documents upon request (as currently required under Section 3.5).

Effective dates

Current regulation

The Customer Service Standard came into effect for designated public sector organizations as of January 1, 2010 and to all other providers of goods or services as of January 1, 2012.

Proposed change

Proposed changes to the definition of "provider of goods and services" in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section.

It is proposed that where practical and applicable, compliance dates align with the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation with provision of a grace period if required.

Delayed effective dates are proposed for all other recommendations with material changes to existing requirements to allow organizations time to comply.

Explanation

The proposed changes are intended to ensure that organizations have sufficient time to understand and comply with the revised Customer Service Standard. Where there is a similar requirement under the Customer Service Standard and another accessibility standard, aligning timelines is intended to reduce inconsistencies and simplify requirements.

Establishment of policies, practices and procedures

Current regulation

Every provider of goods or services is required to establish policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of its goods or services to people with disabilities.

The provider must make reasonable efforts to ensure that its policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the following principles:

  • The goods or services must be provided in a manner that respects the dignity and independence of people with disabilities;
  • The provision of goods or services to people with disabilities and others must be integrated unless an alternate measure is necessary, whether temporarily or on a permanent basis, to enable a person with a disability to obtain, use or benefit from the goods or services; and
  • People with disabilities must be given an opportunity equal to that given to others to obtain, use and benefit from the goods or services.

The policies must deal with the use of assistive devices by people with disabilities to obtain, use or benefit from the provider’s goods or services or the availability, if any, of other measures which enable them to do so.

When communicating with a person with a disability, a provider must do so in a manner that takes into account the person’s disability.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare one or more documents describing its policies, practices and procedures and, upon request, shall give a copy of a document to any person.

Proposed change

Proposed changes to the definition of "provider of goods and services" in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section.

It is proposed that references to "policies, practices and procedures" throughout the Customer Service Standard be changed to match the term "policies" in the other accessibility standards.

Proposed changes would be reflected in the following sections of the Customer Service Standard:

  • Service animals
  • Support persons
  • Training

Explanation

The proposed change would align language and terminology across all accessibility standards, reduce inconsistencies, and simplify requirements.

Service animals

Current regulation

This provision applies if goods or services are provided to members of the public or other third parties at premises owned or operated by the provider of the goods or services and if the public or third parties have access to the premises.

If a person with a disability is accompanied by a guide dog or other service animal, the provider of goods or services must ensure that the person is permitted to enter the premises with the animal and be permitted to keep the animal with him or her unless the animal is otherwise excluded by law from the premises.

If a service animal is excluded by law from the premises, the provider of goods or services must ensure that other measures are available to enable the person with a disability to obtain, use or benefit from the provider’s goods or services.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare one or more documents describing its policies, practices and procedures with respect to service animals and, upon request, shall give a copy of a document to any person.

Under this provision, a "guide dog" means a guide dog as defined in section 1 of the Blind People Rights’ Act.

Under this provision, an animal is considered a service animal if:

  • If it readily apparent that it is used by the person for reasons relating to his/her disability; or
  • If the person provides a letter from a physician or nurse confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability.

Proposed change

Proposed changes to the definition of "provider of goods and services" in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section.

Proposed changes to "policies, practices and procedures" in the Policies, Practices and Procedures Section above would apply to this section.

It is proposed that the definition of service animal to be changed. An animal would be defined as a service animal if:

  • The person provides third party certification that their service animal has been trained to provide assistance that relates to that person’s disability; or
  • It is readily identifiable that the animal is used by the person for reasons relating to their disability; or
  • the person provides documentation from a regulated health professional confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to their disability.

Explanation

Adding the option to provide third party certification that the animal is trained is intended to provide people with disabilities another means to demonstrate their animal is a service animal. This addition also reflects the fact that service animals are not pets, and may be formally trained to provide assistance to a person with a disability.

The term "readily identifiable" is recommended to replace "readily apparent" to make it more clear to organizations that a service animal may be recognized through indicators or visual cues such as a vest or harness, without staff having to ask for a letter from a health professional.

Expanding the range of people who can provide documentation confirming a person’s requirement for a service animal to "regulated health professionals" from the more specific "physician or nurse" was seen by the committee as more inclusive of the range of health care professionals that may be used by people with different types of disabilities. Changing the term "letter" to "documentation" is also more inclusive of the types of documents that a health professional may provide (e.g. form, template, or letter).

Support persons

Current regulation

This provision applies if goods or services are provided to members of the public or other third parties at premises owned or operated by the provider of the goods or services and if the public or third parties have access to the premises.

If a person with a disability is accompanied by a support person, the provider of goods or services must ensure that both are permitted to enter the premises together and that the person with a disability is not prevented from having access to the support person while on the premises.

The provider of goods or services may require a person with a disability to be accompanied by a support person when on the premises, but only if a support person is necessary to protect the health or safety of the person with a disability or the health or safety of others on the premises.

If an amount is charged for admission to the premises or in connection to a person’s presence on the premises, the provider of goods or services must ensure that notice is given in advance about the amount, if any, payable in respect of the support person.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare one or more documents describing its policies, practices and procedures with respect to support persons and, upon request, must give a copy of a document to any person.

Under this provision, "support person" means, in relation to a person with a disability, another person who accompanies him or her in order to help with communication, mobility, personal care or medical needs or with access to goods or services.

Proposed change

Proposed changes to the definition of "provider of goods and services" in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section.

Proposed changes to "policies, practices and procedures" in the Policies, Practices and Procedures Section above would apply to this section.

Additional language is proposed to clarify when an organization may require a support person to accompany a person with a disability for reasons of health and safety as follows:

  • This would only occur where, after consultation with the person with a disability, requiring a support person is the only means to allow the person to be on the premises and at the same time fulfill the provider’s obligation to protect the health and safety of the person with a disability and that of others (i.e., the health and safety risk cannot be eliminated or reduced by other means); and
  • Any considerations on protecting health and safety must be based on specific evidence and not on assumptions.

Explanation

The additional requirements clarify for organizations that there are limited circumstances whereby an organization could require that a person with a disability be accompanied by a support person and that certain conditions should be met including:

  • Consultation with the person with a disability;
  • Determination that there is no other solution or means to allow the person to be on the premises and at the same time fulfill the provider’s obligation to protect the health and safety of the person with a disability and that of others; and
  • The decision is evidence-based.

Notice of temporary disruptions

Current regulation

If, in order to obtain, use or benefit from a provider’s goods or services, people with disabilities usually use particular facilities or services of the provider and if there is a temporary disruption in those facilities or services in whole or in part, the provider is required give notice of the disruption to the public.

Notice of the disruption must include information about the reason for the disruption, its anticipated duration and a description of alternative facilities or services, if any, that are available.

Notice may be given by posting the information at a conspicuous place on premises owned or operated by the provider of goods or services, by posting it on the provider’s website, if any, or by such other method as is reasonable in the circumstances.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare a document that sets out the steps to be taken in connection with a temporary disruption and, upon request, must give a copy of the document to any person.

Proposed change

Proposed changes to the definition of "provider of goods and services" in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section.

No additional changes to the current Notice of Temporary Disruptions Section of the Customer Service Standard are recommended.

Training for staff

Current regulation

Every provider of goods or services is required to ensure that the following people receive training about the provision of its goods or services to people with disabilities:

  • Every person who deals with members of the public or other third parties on behalf of the provider, whether they do so as an employee, agent, volunteer or otherwise.
  • Every person who participates in developing the provider’s policies, practices and procedures about providing goods or services to members of the public or other third parties.

The training must include a review of the purposes of the AODA and the requirements of the Customer Service Standard and instruction about the following matters:

  • How to interact and communicate with people with various types of disability;
  • How to interact with people 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 provider’s premises or otherwise provided by the provider that may help with providing goods or services to a person with a disability; and
  • What to do if a person with a particular type of disability is having difficulty accessing the provider’s goods or services.

The training must be provided to each person as soon as practicable after he or she is assigned the applicable duties.

Training must also be provided on an ongoing basis in connection with changes to the policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of goods or services to people with disabilities.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare a document describing its training policy, and the document must include a summary of the contents of the training and details of when the training is to be provided.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario is required to keep records of the training provided under this provision of the Customer Service Standard, including the dates on which the training is provided and the number of individuals to whom it is provided.

Proposed change

Proposed changes to the definition of "provider of goods and services" in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section.

Proposed changes to "policies, practices and procedures" in the Policies, Practices and Procedures Section above would apply to this section.

It is proposed that the requirements on who must be trained and when training must be provided be replaced with the following language:

Training must be provided to:

  • All employees, and volunteers;
  • All people who participate in developing the organization’s policies; and
  • All other people who provide goods, services or facilities on behalf of the organization.
  • Every person must be trained as soon as practicable.
  • Organizations must provide training on any changes to its accessibility policies on an ongoing basis.

Explanation

These proposed changes would match the broader language in the other accessibility standards, simplify requirements, and reduce inconsistencies across all accessibility standards.

Feedback process for providers of goods or services

Current regulation

Every provider of goods or services must establish a process for receiving and responding to feedback about how it provides goods or services to people with disabilities and must make information about this feedback process readily available to the public.

The feedback process must permit people to provide their feedback in person, by telephone, in writing, or by delivering an electronic text by email or on diskette or otherwise.

The feedback process must specify the actions that the provider of goods or services is required to take if a complaint is received.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare a document describing its feedback process and, upon request, must give a copy of the document to any person.

Proposed change

Proposed changes to the definition of "provider of goods and services" in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section.

It is proposed that the title of the section be changed to "Feedback Process on the Accessible Provision of Goods or Services."

It is also proposed that the language on the channels and formats of an organization’s feedback process under the Customer Service Standard be matched with the language in the Information and Communications Standard which specifies that:

ž Obligated organizations must ensure that their feedback process is accessible to persons with disabilities by providing or arranging for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports upon request.

It is further proposed that language be added to the feedback section that is similar to the language in the policies, practices and procedures section of the Customer Service Standard which states that when communicating with a person with a disability, a provider shall do so in a manner that takes into account the person’s disability.

Explanation

The proposed new title of the section is intended to clarify that the requirements relate to receiving feedback on the accessibility of the provision of goods and services rather than the accessibility of the goods and services themselves.

Changing how feedback is accepted to require organizations to provide accessible formats and communication supports (rather than accepting feedback through certain communication channels such as in person, by telephone, in writing, on diskette) matches similar requirements under the Information and Communications Standard.

The proposed change may enhance accessibility for people with disabilities since they can request the accessible format or communication support that works best for them and their needs when providing feedback rather than choosing from the possible methods for providing feedback that are determined by the organization (e.g. by telephone or in writing).

Reiterating the requirement for organizations to communicate with a person in a manner that takes into account their disability in the feedback provision (similar to the requirement in the policies, practices and procedures section of the Customer Service Standard) reinforces the importance of this principle.

Notice of availability and format of documents

Current regulation

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must notify people to whom it provides goods or services that the documents required by the Customer Service Standard are available upon request (e.g. accessible customer service policies).

The notice may be given by posting the information at a conspicuous place on premises owned or operated by the provider, by posting it on the provider’s website, if any, or by such other method as is reasonable in the circumstances.

If a provider of goods or services is required by the Customer Service Standard to give a copy of a document to a person with a disability, the provider is required to give the person the document, or the information contained in the document, in a format that takes into account the person’s disability.

The provider of goods or services and the person with a disability may agree upon the format to be used for the document or information.

Proposed change

Proposed changes to the definition of "provider of goods and services" in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section.

It is proposed that an organization be required to provide accessible formats and communication supports upon request to a person with a disability. These must be provided in a timely manner and at a cost that is no more than the regular cost charged.

It is also proposed that the current provision that organizations and people with disabilities "agree upon" an accessible format be replaced with the following requirement:

  • Organizations must consult with the person making the request to determine the suitability of an accessible format or communication support.

Explanation

The proposed change would align language and terminology with the Information and Communications Standard, reduce inconsistencies, and simplify requirements.

Updated: September 13, 2021
Published: September 02, 2015