FM LAW AODA CLIENT SERVICE POLICY STATEMENT:
PROVIDING GOODS AND SERVICES TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
- PURPOSE AND SCOPE
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) is Provincial Legislation with the purpose of developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025.
Ontario Regulation 429/07 entitled “Accessibility Standards for Customer Service” came into effect on January 1, 2008. This regulation establishes accessibility standards specific to customer service for public sector organizations and other persons or organizations that provide goods and services to members of the public or other third parties.
This policy addresses the following:
- The provision of goods and services to persons with disabilities
- The use of assistive devices by persons with disabilities
- The use of service animals by persons with disabilities
- The use of support persons by persons with disabilities
- Notice of temporary disruptions in services and facilities
- Staff training
- Client feedback regarding the provision of goods and services to persons with disabilities
- Notice of availability and format of documents and meetings
This Policy applies to all members of Flaherty McCarthy LLP (FM LAW). Members of the firm include all lawyers, staff, volunteers and others who deal with the public or other third parties on their behalf.
- POLICY STATEMENT
It is the policy of FM LAW that its environment will be maintained free from discrimination and harassment as prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code (1962), and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005).
It is the policy of FM LAW that every lawyer, member of staff and client has a right to equitable treatment with respect to employment, services, goods, facilities and accommodation without discrimination in accordance with the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code (1962). FM LAW is committed to providing accessible service for its clients. Goods and services will be provided in a manner that is based upon the principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity to all of its clients. The provision of goods and services to persons with disabilities will be integrated wherever possible. Persons with disabilities will benefit from the same services in a similar way as other clients.
- DEFINITIONS (FROM ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2005)
Disability: Shall mean,
- 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 a 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;
Accessible shall mean capable of being entered or reached, approachable; easy to get at; capable of being influenced, obtainable; able to be understood or appreciated.
Assistive Device shall mean a device used to assist persons with disabilities in carrying out activities or in accessing the services of persons or organizations covered by the customer Service Standard.
Dignity shall mean respecting and treating every person including persons with a disability as valued and as deserving of effective and full service as any other client.
Independence shall mean freedom from control or influence of others, freedom to make your own choices.
Guide Dog shall mean a dog trained as a guide for a person who is blind and having the qualifications prescribed by the regulations.
Goods and Services shall mean goods and services provided by FM LAW.
Service Animals shall mean animals that are used as a service animal for a person with a disability.
Support Person shall mean an individual hired or chosen by a person with a disability to provide services or assistance with communication, mobility, personal care, medical needs or with access to goods or services.
- PROVIDING GOODS AND SERVICE TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
In section 4, the reference to “persons with disabilities” refers to persons with disabilities as defined under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.
FM LAW is committed to excellence in serving all clients including persons with disabilities and will carry out its functions and responsibilities to ensure that policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the following principles:
- FM LAW’s goods and services are provided in a manner that respects the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities;
- The provision of FM LAW’s goods and services to persons with disabilities is integrated with those provided to persons who do not have disabilities unless an alternative measure is necessary to enable a person with a disability to obtain, use or benefit from FM LAW’s goods or services;
- Persons with disabilities are given an opportunity equal to that of persons without disabilities to obtain use or benefit from FM LAW’s goods and services, and
- To ensure the best possible client service, FM LAW encourages open two-way communication and expects persons with disabilities to communicate their need for accommodation or assistance if it is not readily apparent how that need can be met.
FM LAW is committed to communicating with persons with disabilities in ways that take into consideration their disability. To ensure this,
- Firm members will be trained in how to interact and communicate with clients with disabilities guided by the principles of dignity, independence and equality;
- Clients with disabilities will be offered alternative communication formats that will meet the needs of the client as promptly as feasible;
- Documents will be provided to clients in an alternative format that will meet the needs of the client in a timely fashion, and
- If telephone communication is not suitable for client’s needs, alternative forms of communication will be offered as required.
4.2 USE OF SERVICE ANIMALS, ASSISTIVE DEVICES, AND SUPPORT PERSONS
FM LAW will ensure that the access, use and benefit of goods or services are not compromised for persons with disabilities who require assistive devices, or who are accompanied by a service animal, guide dog or support person.
4.2.1 SERVICE ANIMALS
Service animals, such as, but not limited to Guide dogs, Hearing dogs, Seizure Response dogs, and other certified service animals shall be permitted entry to all FM LAW’s facilities and meeting rooms that are open to the public.
When we cannot easily identify that an animal is a service animal, our staff may ask a person to provide documentation (template, letter or form) from a regulated health professional that confirms the person needs the service animal for reasons relating to their disability.
A service animal can be easily identified through visual indicators, such as when it wears a harness or a vest, or when it helps the person perform certain tasks.
A regulated health professional is defined as a member of one of the following colleges:
- 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
- College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario
If service animals are prohibited by another law, we will do the following to ensure people with disabilities can access our goods, services or facilities:
- Explain why the animal is excluded; and
- Discuss with the customer another way of providing goods, services or facilities
4.2.2 ASSISTIVE DEVICES
Persons with disabilities shall be permitted to obtain, use or benefit from goods or services through the use of their own assistive devices.
It should be noted that it is the responsibility of the person with a disability to ensure that his or her assistive device is operated in a safe and controlled manner at all times.
4.2.3 SUPPORT PERSONS
FM LAW is committed to welcoming clients with disabilities who are accompanied by a support person. Any person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person will be allowed to enter FM LAW premises with his or her support person.
In certain cases, FM LAW might require a person with a disability to be accompanied by a support person for the health or safety reasons of:
- The person with a disability; or
- Others on the premises
Before making a decision, FM LAW will:
- Consult with the person with a disability to understand their needs;
- Consider health or safety reasons based on available evidence; and
- Determine if there is no other reasonable way to protect the health or safety of the person or others on the premises.
If FM LAW determines that a support person is required, we will waive the admission fee or fare (if applicable) for the support person.
We are committed to providing accessible invoices to all of our clients and will make every effort to provide alternative formats of invoices in a timely manner upon request.
4.4 NOTICE OF TEMPORARY DISRUPTION TO FACILITIES OR SERVICES
In the event that a planned temporary service disruption occurs that would limit a person with a disability from gaining access to FM LAW facilities, goods or services, FM LAW will make the disruption known to clients in the following ways:
- A physical notice of the service disruption on FM LAW premises will be posted in the area where the service disruption is located;
- Messages will be posted on the FM LAW web site at www.fmlaw.ca
Notices will include information about the reason for the disruption and its anticipated duration.
If an unexpected disruption occurs, persons with disabilities will be accommodated by the use of other possible means to deliver the goods and service, such as:
- FM LAW may use an alternative place and time to provide service directly to the person with a disability (for example, change of time or boardroom location); or
- Any other appropriate assistive measures available to deliver services.
4.5 NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY OF DOCUMENTS
FM LAW will notify the public that documents related to accessible customer service, are available upon request.
FM LAW will provide this document in an accessible format or with communication support, on request. We will consult with the person making the request to determine the suitability of the format or communication support. We will provide the accessible format in a timely manner and, at no additional cost.
- STAFF TRAINING
FM LAW will provide AODA client service training in to all lawyers, staff, volunteers and others who deal with the public or other third parties on their behalf. This training will be provided to all new staff within three months of the date they are hired.
The training will include:
- The purposes of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and the requirements of the client service standard;
- How to interact and communicate with people with various types of disabilities;
- How to interact with people with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a service animal or a support person;
- What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty accessing services at FM LAW; and
- Current policies, practices and procedures relating to the client service standard.
Staff will also be trained when changes are made to our plan.
- FEEDBACK PROCESS
The ultimate goal of FM LAW is to meet the needs of our clients, while paying attention to the unique requirements of our clients with disabilities. Comments on our services regarding how well those expectations are being met are welcomed and appreciated.
Feedback regarding the way FM LAW provides goods and services to people with disabilities can be made in person, by telephone, through email, or by other means as required.
Feedback should be directed to:
Flaherty McCarthy LLP
95 Wellington Street West, Suite 1000
Toronto, ON M5J 2N7
Feedback will be used to improve client service. In addition, the author of the feedback will be provided with a response in the format in which the feedback was received. The feedback may outline actions deemed appropriate, if any.
FM LAW will make sure our feedback process is accessible to people with disabilities by providing or arranging for accessible formats and communication supports, on request.
- FORMAT OF FM LAW POLICIES
FM LAW develops and updates policies, procedures and practices in such a manner as to respect and promote the dignity and independence of people with disabilities, as well as integration and equality of opportunity. FM LAW will provide policy and procedure documents produced by the firm in an alternative format upon request, within a reasonable amount of time.
- QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS POLICY
If anyone has questions about the policy, or if the purpose of the policy is not understood, an explanation should be provided by or referred to Human Resources or a member of the Respect in the Workplace Committee. This policy will be posted on the FM LAW website and made available to all members of the firm.