New accessibility standards impact Ontario restaurants

RestaurantCentral - Canada's go-to site for foodservice professionals - bannerAll businesses with at least one employee will have to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Customer Service Standard taking effect Jan. 1, 2012.

What you need to do

By January, the Customer Service Standard requires you to:

  • develop customer service policies and procedures for serving people with disabilities;
  • ensure policies and procedures are consistent with the principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality of opportunity;
  • have a policy on allowing people to use their own assistive devices (e.g. cane, wheelchair, oxygen tank) to access your goods and services;
  • communicate with a person with a disability in a manner that considers his or her disability;
  • allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by their guide dog or service animal in areas of your business open to the public;
  • permit people with disabilities who rely on a support person to bring that individual with them while accessing your goods or services;
  • post information about your policy regarding what fee, if any, would be charged for a support person of a person with a disability (in operations where admission fees are charged);
  • let people know when facilities or services for people with disabilities (such as an elevator or accessible washroom) are out of order;
  • train staff, volunteers and contractors to serve customers with disabilities; and
  • let customers with disabilities provide feedback on how you met their needs, and establish a process to respond and take action on any complaints.

If you have 20 or more employees, you must also:

  • complete an online report on your compliance by the reporting deadline (to be determined);
  • document in writing all policies and procedures on how you provide accessible customer service;
  • notify customers that all documents required by the standard are available on request; and
  • provide documents required under the standard in a format that takes into account the person’s disability, if applicable.

* Requirements taken from Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services website.

Click here for more information on these requirements.

This change signifies a new era of accessibility standards that will impact all restaurants. CRFA lobbied the Ontario government during initial public consultations noting the significant challenges for restaurants to comply with certain requirements, particularly the Built Environment Standard. The date this particular standard takes effect has not yet been finalized.

For more information and access to Ministry of Community and Social Services tools, click here.

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