Communicating with people with disabilities
1.01 We are committed to communicating with people with disabilities in ways that take into account their disability and in keeping with the principles of dignity, independence and equal opportunity. We believe in integration, and we are committed to meeting the needs of people with disabilities in a timely manner. We will do so by removing and preventing barriers to accessibility and by meeting our accessibility requirements under Ontario’s accessibility laws.
1.02 This policy provides guidance in how to improve communication with people with a disability through general communications, involvement of people with a disability in consultation, or in meetings, during a transaction and producing publications in accessible formats.
1.03 This policy applies to all of OHCOW’s communications with the public, including in relation to consultation, and the development of pamphlets, flyers, letters, memos, emails, websites, brochures, invoices, papers and reports, among others.
1.04 All oral and written communication should seek to be inclusive of and positive towards people with a disability. Avoid phrases that demean people with disabilities, and referring to people by categories.
2.01 The purpose of this Statement of Policy and Procedure is to ensure that persons with disabilities have communication access that is effective as that provided to persons without disabilities. To be equally effective, an aid, benefit or service need not produce the identical results or level of achievement for disabled and non-disables persons; it must afford the person to whom it is provided equal opportunity to achieve equal results, gain equal benefit and reach the same level of achievement.
This policy applies to all employees and all facilities of OHCOW in Ontario.
4.01 It is the responsibility of managers, immediate supervisors and/or department heads to ensure that all employees follow the guidelines set out in this policy.
4.02 It is the responsibility of all OHCOW employees to have completed AODA training, to achieve a level of awareness of accessibility requirements that embodies the guidelines set out in this policy.
4.03 Each manager, immediate supervisor and/or department head is responsible to ensure all employees are trained under Accessibility Standards for Customer Service and this policy, practices and procedure.
(a) 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,
(b) a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
(c) a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
(d) a mental disorder, or
(e) an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997; (“handicap”)
Barrier means anything that prevents a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of their disability, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practice; (“obstacle”)
6. REFERENCES and RELATED STATEMENTS of POLICY and PROCEDURE
7.01 Terminology: the terminology we use can influence the way we see people and may unintentionally create a negative perception. The words we use can be very powerful. However unintentional, many words used to describe the nature of a disability can be demeaning and disrespectful. Please refer to the terminology chart below, Terminology chart 7.01(a): Positive and Negative Phrases, to assist you in making your communication with or without people with disabilities more successful.
Terminology Chart 7.01(a): Positive and Negative Phrases
|Affirmative phrases||Negative phrases|
- person with an intellectual, cognitive, developmental disability
- retarded, mentally defective
- Person who is blind, person with vision loss
- the disabled, handicapped
- person who is hard of hearing
- person who has multiple sclerosis
- person with cerebral palsy
- person with epilepsy, person who has seizures
- person who uses a wheelchair
- confined or restricted to a wheelchair
- person who has muscular dystrophy
- person with a physical disability, a person who is physically disabled
- person who is unable to speak, person who uses synthetic speech
- person with psychiatric disability
- person who is successful, productive
- Has overcome his/her disability, is courageous (when it implies the person has courage because of having a disability)
7.02 The word “disability” and “disabled” are more appropriate then “handicap” or “handicapped.”
7.03 Remember to put people first. It is preferable to say “person with a disability” instead of “disabled person.”
7.04 Consider an individual’s disability in communication:
- A key aspect of communication is taking into consideration the specific needs of an individual. Employees may need to utilize a variety of different techniques to best interact with a person with a disability in order to effectively provide goods and services to that individual.
7.05 To assist people with disabilities to access our services, employees should utilize the following general guidelines:
- Treat people with disabilities with the same respect and consideration you offer everyone else.
- If you’re not sure what to do, ask the individual, “May I help you ?”
- Ask before you offer to help; don’t jump in. People often have their own way of doing things. Individuals with disabilities know if they need help and how you can provide it.
- If you don’t know someone, or if you are unfamiliar with the disability, it’s better to wait until the individual describes his or her situation to you, rather than to make assumptions. Many types of disabilities have similar characteristics and your assumptions may be wrong.
- Some disabilities are not visible. Take the time to get to know the individual’s needs.
- Speak normally, clearly and directly. Speak to a person with a disability, not to their interpreter or someone who is with them.
- Be patient; give the individual time to explain themself.
7.06 We will give careful consideration to whether consultations, meetings, and transaction methods are inclusive of people with disabilities.
7.07 When organizing meetings, we will make attempts to use facilities that cater to people with disabilities; e.g., ramps, handrails and lifts for people with mobility disabilities, inductive loop or radio systems to assists the hearing impaired. We will consider whether it is appropriate to hire an interpreter to assist in presentations at meetings. Where such facilities are available, they should be advertised as part of the information about location of the meeting.
7.08 When organizing consultation meetings, consider the environment available for any person with a disability attending the meeting; e.g., physical access to the building and meeting room, access to toilets, lighting in the room, external noise.
7.09 Publications: When developing material intended to be distributed to the public, we will consider the format of the material and its accessibility to the target audience. In particular, we will consider whether alternative formats are required in order to facilitate access by a person with a disability.
7.10 Excessive cost can be avoided be carefully targeting the audience. Options for making accessible formats available may include:
- Distributing standard formats, and developing and providing alternative formats only upon request.
- Providing a pamphlet or booklet in accessible format, and supplementary documents upon request.
- Advertising the availability of certain alternative formats. Where only standard formats are distributed, consideration should be given to advertising the availability of alternative formats upon request. Reception and publications staff should be made aware of the availability of alternative formats, and particular formats OHCOW is willing to provide upon request.
7.11 One or more of the following formats may be appropriate for development to improve accessibility:
- Internet: The Internet is a highly suitable medium for many people with hearing, vision, mobility and manipulatory impairments. To make the publication most compatible to software on the internet in HTML or ASCII format.
- CD or DVD: Providing information in a portable electric format may be suitable for people with hearing, vision, mobility and/or manipulatory impairments. The publication should be converted to ASII format to make it most compatible with accessibility computer software.
- Digital audio file, podcast: Audio is used by a wide range of people although it is often targeted to people with vision impairment. These formats are relatively easy and cost effective to produce and post.
- Braille: This format is used by people with severe vision impairment who have learnt the Braille alphabet.
- Large and illustrated print: Large and illustrative print is mainly targeted to those with low vision. It refers to any printed matter that uses a font that is 14 point or larger. Illustrated print is designed to provide a quick visual outline of a message. It is often preferred by people with an intellectual disability, people with some visual impairment and can also assist people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
- Simplify Language: This format is useful if providing information to people with intellectual disabilities or limited reading skills. The information is summarized and expressed in short sentences that each convey a single idea or concept.
- Provide information about events and services in a variety of media (for example, publicise telephone numbers, provide printable material
- Provide sufficient notice of events to ensure there is time to arrange transportation or other requirements.
7.12 Create marketing communications with accessibility features built in (for example, Eventbrite has an accessible ticketing system).
7.13 Ensure all facilities have clear signs that include internationally recognized symbols and indicators.
Disruption of Services
STATEMENT of POLICY and PROCEDURE
1.01 OHCOW will make reasonable efforts to provide notice in the event of a planned or unexpected disruption in the facilities or services where they have control over such facilities or services. This notice will include information about the reasons for the disruption, its anticipated duration and a description of alternative facilities or services, if available.
The purpose of this Statement of Policy and Procedure is to ensure persons with disabilities know when there is a temporary disruption of service.
This policy applies to all employees and facilities of OHCOW in Ontario.
It is the responsibility of managers, immediate supervisors, and department heads to ensure that all employees follow the guidelines set out in this policy.
Each manager, immediate supervisor and department head is responsible to ensure all employees are trained under Accessibility Standards for Customer Service and this policy, practices and procedure.
6. REFERENCES and RELATED STATEMENTS of POLICY and PROCEDURE
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act, 2005
Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, Ontario Regulation 429/07
7.01 If a disruption in service is planned and expected, OHCOW should provide notice as far in advance of the disruption as possible as individuals may require considerable time to make alternative arrangements.
7.02 If a disruption is unexpected, OHCOW should provide notice as soon as possible after the disruption has been identified.
7.03 The notice of disruption should include information about the service that is disrupted, reason(s) for the disruption, the anticipated duration and a description of alternative facilities, services or alternative mechanisms to access the good/services.
7.04 Depending on the nature of the disruption, notice may be given by posting the information at a conspicuous place (e.g., on or directly to the side of an elevator door or a washroom door) or in OHCOW’s facilities or venue area. Other options that may be used include: placing a message on voicemail, posting on the OHCOW website or through direct communication with users of the services in accordance with OHCOW’s practices.
7.06 Generally, disruptions to or of an organization’s services, such as during a power outage, do not require this special notice. However, if the disruption has significant impact on the people with disabilities, OHCOW should provide the notice of disruption in an appropriate manner as soon as possible.
7.07 From time to time OHCOW may not have direct control over facilities or services (e.g., one office within a building leased by many businesses). In these circumstances it is recommended that OHCOW endeavor to work with the organization that does have control over the facility/service in order to ensure a notice of temporary disruption is posted.