Ministry for Seniors and Accessiblity – AODA Toolbox – November 2018

November 2018  |
AODA Tool Box

Considering all Customers: Accessible Customer Service

November is a great time to increase sales by making the retail experience more accessible for people with disabilities. People with disabilities make up a large group of consumers.

According to Rich Donovan, Chair of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council, author and disability advocate, in Canada when the “friends and family [of people with disabilities] are added to the market, disability touches 53 percent of consumers controlling more than $366.5-billion.”

Studies have shown that consumers value accessibility and are more inclined to spend their money at an accessible business.

There are many resources for businesses and employers to become more accessible.

Accessible Customer Service Training is required for all your organization’s employees. This training better prepares members of your organization to communicate effectively with all customers, including people with disabilities. You can visit Access Forward’s website for free AODA training modules for staff.

If you are a small business owner and wonder what you’re required to do to make your business more accessible, read the Guide for Small Businesses.

Finding innovative ways to include people with disabilities makes good business sense.

Quick accessibility tips:

1. Train your staff to communicate in an accessible way.  

You may need to provide communication supports to fulfill requests from your customers. For example, if a customer is unable to read the store flyer, they might request that you provide information in an alternate format, such a structured electronic Word file. This allows them to increase the size of the font or access the information with a screen reader. Other customers may prefer a staff member read the flyer to them verbally.

2. Actively monitor aisles for obstructions. This will improve the customer experience for visitors while ensuring that anyone using a mobility aid will be able to access your products.

3. Look for creative solutions to provide equal service to all customers. Sometimes these solutions are less obvious. For example, if accessibility barriers prevent a deal-seeker with a disability from accessing a Black Friday bargain, consider offering them the same sale price at a later date.

Notification Toolkit: Starting Conversations about Accessibility in the Workplace

Ensuring employees are comfortable asking about workplace accommodations related to a disability makes workplaces safer and more productive.

The AODA requires employers to inform its employees of its policies used to support employees with disabilities, including policies related to providing job accommodations for a disability.

One way to notify your employees is by using the new Notification Toolkit.

The toolkit consists of:

  • A poster that explains workplace accommodation in Ontario and notifies employees about the availability of workplace accommodations. Displaying the poster in a visible place helps ensure employees are aware they must notify their employers of a need for accommodation.
  • A sample notification that you can give to new employees as they join the organization. Including this notice in a memo or orientation package informs employees about the policies at your organization related to workplace accommodation.

Image of the workplace poster on a bulletin board

Above is a printed version of the poster available for use.

Transparency around accommodation helps create a culture of accessibility and can be the first step towards a more inclusive workplace.  To receive your notification toolkit, email us at

Accessibility for your Online Customer 

More customers, from millennials to baby boomers, are choosing the online option to make their purchases. Online shopping can also remove barriers and expand options for people with disabilities. When designing online shopping experiences, savvy businesses are considering the needs of customers of different ages and abilities.

As more customers are choosing online shopping, e-commerce website designers like Shopify are prioritizing accessibility in their designs. More inclusive design increases site traffic, sales, and also makes for a more positive service experience.

Shopify encourages its designers to look at how common elements in the online experience can be accessed by everyone.  This includes considering website images, text, icons, forms, tables, navigation by keyboard, and use of colour. These considerations make online shopping more accessible for people with vision or cognitive disabilities, and disabilities that impact motor skills.

Does your business offer online shopping experience or services?  Have you considered if your customer experience is accessible?

If you’re getting started or want to make sure you’re on the right track, there are resources that can help you make your website more accessible. Under the Information and Communication Standards, depending on the size and type of your organization, you may have certain web accessibility requirements to uphold. Take a look at AccessAbility Handbook: A Practical Guide on Accessible Web Design and WCAG 2.0 – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: An Introductory Guide for Web Developers. Designing an inclusive online shopping experience means more customers, more sales, and more success.

Practical Tips for Accessible Customer Service: Blue Umbrella Program
Accessible customer service can help foster a sense of belonging to a community and promotes active participation in day to day activities. TheAlzheimer Society of Canada has recognized this, and developed an initiative called the Blue Umbrella Program, tailored around making communities dementia friendly.

The Blue Umbrella Project is a program to train organizations and businesses about how to address barriers associated with dementia. This training is free and includes strategies on how to provide appropriate customer service to individuals living with dementia and associated support persons.

After a business receives the training, you can showcase a Blue Umbrella Decal, indicating to the public that staff are trained to provide high level customer service to individuals with dementia and their caregivers.

Contact your local Alzheimer Society today and learn about how to get involved in training here.

GO Transit Accessibility Survey – Make your Opinion Heard!

GO Transit, a division of Metrolinx, is committed to making their services accessible and working to remove existing, and avoid creating, barriers to universal access. As such, GO has launched its first survey dedicated entirely towards understanding the needs and experiences of its customers with disabilities and others who may require accessible services.

Your input will inform GO Transit’s accessibility planning process and help improve their ability to serve you and other customers.

This survey should take approximately 15 – 30 minutes to complete. The survey closes on January 31, 2019.

Click here to start the survey

If you are unable to click the link, please copy and paste the full URL below into your browser:

Learning Opportunities

The Chang School has launched Leadership in Accessibility and Inclusion, a new program that will help you develop the skills to understand and implement policy and organizational change in areas impacted by accessibility and inclusion requirements.

Offered in Winter 2019: Introducing Digital Accessibility (CVAS 200)

Take this seven-week course to learn what digital accessibility is and why it’s important to consider when creating content. Look at the ethical, business, and legal aspects of digital accessibility; review the most common accessibility issues; and get introduced to some best practices for creating accessible digital content. Course starts on January 14. Enrol today!

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Author: kakonged

I am an author, journalist, teacher, and lawyer who lives in Toronto, Canada. This picture is a selfie that was done on Saturday, February 24, 2018, nearing six years of my being dreadlocked.