Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
In 2005, The Ontario Government enacted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, (AODA) to develop, implement and enforce standards to achieve accessibility for all Ontarians by 2025. A series of standards are being developed to eliminate barriers to accessibility with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises.
There are currently many barriers that prevent a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practise. The Act considers a broad range of disability; any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness. Examples of such disabling conditions are visual, hearing and speech impediments, physical reliance on a guide dog, wheelchair or other assistive devices. The Act also includes mental impairment and developmental disability and learning disabilities.
The Act requires the Anchor Association to develop policies, procedures and practices which show understanding of the needs of the individuals we serve. These needs can be physical but also psychological. Our attitudes are an important part of the intent of the Act. Accessible customer service is not about ramps or automatic door openers. It’s about understanding that people with disabilities may have different needs.
Accessibility Standards are being put in place in the following areas:
- Information and communications
- Built environment
Accessible Customer Service Plan
Providing Goods and Services to People with Disabilities. The Anchor Association is committed to excellence in serving all residents, promoting respect, dignity, inclusion and independence of people with disabilities.
Assistive devices – We will ensure that our staff is trained and familiar with various assistive devices that may be used by our residents while accessing our goods or services.
Communication – We will communicate with our residents in ways that take into account their disability.
Service animals – We welcome people with disabilities and their service animals. Service animals are allowed on the parts of our premises that are open to the public.
Support person – A person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person will be allowed to have that person accompany them on our premises. Fees will not be charged for support persons.
Notice of temporary disruption – In the event of a planned or unexpected disruption to our services or facilities, the Anchor Association will notify all stakeholders promptly. A clearly posted notice will include information about the reason for the disruption, its anticipated length of time, and a description of alternative facilities or services, if available. The notice will be placed at the entrance of each of our homes.
Training for staff
The Anchor Association will provide training to employees, volunteers and others who deal with the public, or other third parties on their behalf. Individuals in the following positions will be trained: full time and part time employees, volunteers, directors on the board, and other stakeholders via newsletters and church bulletin notices.
This training will be provided to staff upon hiring and on an on-going basis.
Training will include:
- An overview of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and the requirements of the customer service standard.
- The Anchor Association’s accessible customer service plan.
- 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.
- How to use the wheelchair lifts, ceiling lifts, sling and other devices available on-site or otherwise that may help with providing goods and services to our residents and guests.
- What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty in accessing the Anchor Association’s goods and services.
Staff will also be trained when changes are made to our accessible customer service plan.
Residents and other stakeholders who wish to provide feedback on the way the Anchor Association provides goods and services to our residents can do so using e-mail, verbally, by way of a letter or note. A questionnaire has been prepared for those who benefit from this format. All feedback will be directed to the Executive Director. Residents and other stakeholders can expect to hear back in three days with an initial confirmation that their concerns have been received. Complaints will be addressed according to our organization’s regular complaint management procedures.
AODA guiding principles:
Dignity – service is provided in a way that allows the person with a disability to maintain self-respect and the respect of other people. People with disabilities are not treated as an afterthought or forced to accept lesser service, quality or convenience.
Independence – allowing a person with a disability to do things on their own without unnecessary help, or interference from others.
Integration – service is provided in a way that allows the person with a disability to benefit from the same services, in the same place, and in the same or similar way as other customers, unless an alternate measure is necessary to enable the person to access goods or services.
Equal opportunity – people with disabilities have an opportunity equal to that given to others to access your goods or services.
If you are not sure about a disability, it’s better to wait until the individual describes their situation to you rather than make your own assumptions. Many types of disabilities have similar characteristics and your assumptions may be wrong. Respect and courtesy will be your guiding principle
|Affirmative Phrases||Negative Phrases|
|Person with an intellectual, developmental disability||Retarded, mentally defective|
|Person who is blind, person with vision loss||The blind|
|Person with a disability||The disabled, handicapped|
|Person who is deaf||The deaf, deaf and dumb|
|Person who is hard of hearing||Suffers a hearing loss|
|Person who has multiple sclerosis||Afflicted by MS|
|Person with cerebral palsy||CP victim|
|Person with epilepsy, person who has seizures||Epileptic|
|Person who uses a wheelchair||Confined or restricted to a wheelchair|
|Person with physical disability||Crippled, lame, deformed|
|Person with psychiatric disability||Crazy, schizo|
Preventing Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment
Bill 168 is an Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act primarily with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace.
Violence and Harassment in the Workplace
The staff of the Anchor Association should enjoy an environment free of violence and harassment. Staff members must feel that they can come forward with a complaint or seek advice; complaints are seriously investigated and acted upon; and where reasonable, the privacy of all individuals is protected.
Bill 168 is an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, for workplaces in Ontario where more than five workers are regularly employed. (June 15, 2010) Employers need to make reasonable precautions to protect workers from domestic violence and inform them of potential risks. The risk of workplace violence needs to be assessed and controlled. Workers need to be enabled to report incidents, complaints or threats of workplace violence without fear of retaliation. Policies regarding workplace violence need to be reviewed annually.
Definition of workplace violence
- Workplace violence means the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker
- An attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker
- A statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.
Definition of harassment:
- Harassment means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.
Workplace harassment may include bullying, intimidating or offensive jokes or innuendos, displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials, or offensive or intimidating phone calls, unnecessary physical contact and physical assault.
Each staff member and supported individual is entitled to be free from the following:
- Physical assault or intimidation.
- Sexual remarks or unnecessary physical contacts by other staff members that could be considered offensive or degrading.
- A sexual solicitation or advance made by a person who is in a position to confer or deny a benefit to the staff member, where the person knows, or ought to reasonably know, that such an action is unwelcome.
- A reprisal or threat of reprisal, for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance.
- Verbal abuse or threats; unwelcome remarks, jokes or innuendoes about a person’s body, attire, national origin, or race, etc.
- Display of pornographic, racist or other offensive/ derogatory materials.
A staff member who subjects another staff member to workplace violence or harassment, may be subject to disciplinary action commensurate to the incident, up to and including dismissal.
Working with other people includes risks as defined above. The Association believes in the prevention of violence and promotes a safe workplace in which all people respect one another and work together to achieve a common goal. In the field of human services there are particular risks which may differ from other workplaces. Staff work in close quarters with one another and need to deal with residents who have developmental and psychiatric issues. There are a number of risks, including outbursts, threats and physical force by our residents. Staff also work during the night hours.
Our staff handbook deals with Crisis Prevention, providing information to prevent incidents to the best of our abilities. The focus is particularly geared towards our residents and how staff may need to intervene. Each home will need to assess risks and act accordingly, bearing in mind the residents with a history of violence or threatening behaviours.