Improving accessibility is the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do, and it’s the law in Manitoba.
As part of the Accessibility Act the Municipality of WestLake-Gladstone is committed to ensuring all standards will be met. The first standard to be implemented is the Customer Service Standard.
So what is Accessibility Standard for Customer Service?
The Accessible Customer Service Standard is a regulation under the Accessibility for Manitoba's Act. It outlines what public and private organizations must do, and by when, to provide goods and services in a fair and respectful manner to all customers, including people disabled by barriers.
What are the most common barriers to accessible customer service?
There are a variety of barriers to accessible customer service; the most common are attitudinal barriers:
- Attitudinal barriers result when people think and act based on false assumptions. Example: a receptionist talks to an individual’s support person because she or he assumes the individual with a disability will not understand.
- Informational and communication barriers are created when information is offered in a form that suits some, but not all, of the population. Example: print that is too small for some people to read and public address systems that alert only people who can hear the message.
- Technological barriers occur when technology, or the way it is used, cannot be accessed by people with disabilities. Example: websites that are not accessible to people who are blind and use screen reader software.
- Systemic barriers are policies, practices or procedures that result in some people receiving unequal access or being excluded. For example, a printed registration form that is not accessible to people with a visual impairment.
- Physical and architectural barriers are physical obstacles that make it difficult for some to easily access a place. Example: a door knob that cannot be turned by a person with limited mobility or strength, or a hallway or door that is too narrow to allow a person who uses a wheelchair to pass through safely.
What are examples of accessible customer service?
Example 1: Focus on your client with a disability, not on the person who may be accompanying him or her. When a customer is accompanied by a support person to assist with daily activities, address the person with the disability.
Example 2: Provide equal access to information and communication. This means including an Active Offer on all publications: "Available in alternate formats upon request. "Then, if the print on a registration form is too small for some people to read, they know they can request it in large print or an electronic format.
Example 3: Remove physical obstacles that make physic access difficult for some people. This can be as simple as ensuring that your organization’s entrances and hallways are clutter and obstacle free for persons using wheelchairs or who have vision impairments.
Example 4: In stores and restaurants, ensure that at least one credit / debit machine is accessible to a person in a wheelchair, and not tightly locked to the counter.
How can I offer accessible customer service if my building is not accessible?
If a building is inaccessible, customer service can still be provided. For example, if a library building is inaccessible, patrons can check the library’s catalog or call the library directly to see if a particular item is available. Arrangements can be made to collect it at an accessible location: another branch; another location in the community; or, just outside the front entrance of the inaccessible library.
More information will be published regarding WestLake-Gladstone Accessibility Plan as it becomes available. Please visit The Accessibility for Manitoba's Act to see more.