Accessible Customer Service
Category: General Corporate
Application: All employees and volunteers; and other third parties who interact with the public on our behalf
Responsible Office: Human Resources
Let’s Talk Science is committed to offering its products, programs, and services to all interested stakeholders, regardless of their abilities. It is the intent of this policy to meet the standards for accessible customer services as regulated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. As such, the policies, procedures, and practices presented apply to the provision of goods and services to stakeholders not the content of the products and programs themselves.
This policy applies to delivery of all programs, products, and services on behalf of Let’s Talk Science whether on premises that Let’s Talk Science owns or operates or in a third-party location. Where limitations may be placed on this access due to superseding legislation, this is outlined below.
Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR)
Let’s Talk Science is committed to ensuring compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (Regulation 191/11) (the “IASR”) under the AODA provides standards to increase accessibility for persons with disabilities. The following standards under this regulation apply to Let’s Talk Science: general, information and communications, employment, and design of public spaces. Adherence to the Ontario Human Rights Code and Let’s Talk Science’s Accessible Customer Service Policy (2012) is further supported by this IASR Policy.
Let’s Talk Science Accessibility Plan
The purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) is to improve opportunities for people with disabilities and to provide for their involvement in the identification, removal, and prevention of barriers to their full participation in life. To this end, the AODA requires that all private and non-profit organizations with over 50 employees prepare a multi-year accessibility plan and make the Let’s Talk Science Accessibility plan public.
Let’s Talk Science will make every reasonable effort to ensure that its policies, practices, and procedures are consistent with the principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity by:
- ensuring that all customers receive the same value and quality;
- allowing customers with disabilities to do things in their own ways, at their own pace when accessing goods and services as long as this does not present a safety risk;
- using alternative methods when possible to ensure that customers with disabilities have access to the same services, in the same place and in a similar manner;
- taking into account individual needs when providing goods and services; and,
- communicating in a manner that takes into account the customer's disability.
Assistive device - A technical aid, communication device or other instrument that is used to maintain or improve the functional abilities of people with disabilities. Personal assistive devices are typically devices that individuals bring with them such as a wheelchair, walker or a personal oxygen tank that might assist in hearing, seeing, communicating, moving, breathing, remembering and/or reading.
Customer: An individual who receives or consumes products (goods and services). Within the context of Let’s Talk Science, customers include those purchasing one of our products, or educators and youth who participate in or access our programs.
Customer service: is the provision of services to a customer before, during and after their direct interaction with Let’s Talk Science.
Disability: the term disability refers to:
- 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 coordination, 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 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 relevant provincial Workplace Safety and Insurance Act or equivalent legislation.
Guide dog: is a highly-trained working dog that has been trained according to relevant provincial legislation to provide mobility, safety and increased independence for people who are blind.
Service animal: an animal is a service animal for a person with a disability if:
- it is readily apparent that the animal is used by the person for reasons relating to his or her disability; or
- if the person provides a letter from a regulated health professional confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability.
Service dog: a dog other than a guide dog for the blind is a service dog if:
- it is readily apparent to an average person that the dog functions as a service dog for a person with a medical disability;
- or the person who requires the dog can provide on request a letter from a regulated health professional confirming that the person requires a service dog.
Support person: another person who accompanies the individual with a disability to help with communication, mobility, personal care, medical needs or access to goods and services.
Accessibility of Let’s Talk Science Offices and Websites
Let’s Talk Science offices may not be accessible to those with disabilities, particularly those with mobility challenges. Customers with a disability that may limit their physical access to our office space who are planning to visit a Let’s Talk Science office (including post-secondary host sites) are encouraged to contact the relevant office to ensure any concerns are addressed. In order to accommodate the customer’s needs, the Let’s Talk Science representative may decide to hold the meeting in an alternate accessible location or may make arrangements to meet the customer in an area that is accessible and escort the customer to the designated meeting area.
Upon notification and discussion with the visiting party, the Let’s Talk Science representative will make a decision on the best course of action outlined above to address a customer’s specific concerns.
Let’s Talk Science operates many websites for customers’ use. These websites and portions thereof have differing levels of accessibility as they undergo ongoing development. If a customer finds they are not able to find information in a format that is accessible to them, they are encouraged to contact Let’s Talk Science as outlined under the feedback process section of this policy and Let’s Talk Science will work with the individual to reach a solution that is mutually agreeable.
Customer’s own assistive device(s):
Persons with disabilities may use their own assistive devices as required when accessing goods or services provided by Let’s Talk Science.
In cases where the assistive device presents a safety concern or where accessibility might be an issue, other reasonable measures will be used to ensure access to goods and services. For example, open flames and oxygen tanks cannot be near one another. Therefore, the accommodation of a customer with an oxygen tank may involve ensuring the customer is in a location that would be considered safe for both the customer and business. Or, where elevators are not present and where an individual requires assistive devices for the purposes of mobility, service will be provided in a location that meets the needs of the customer.
Assistive devices provided by Let’s Talk Science:
Offices operated by Let’s Talk Science at the national level do not have any assistive devices located on the premises. Volunteers based elsewhere may have access to such devices through their institution. Volunteers are encouraged to learn how to use this equipment. Volunteer coordinators are also encouraged to make existing instruction manuals for these devices available to volunteers. If your institution does not have instruction manuals accessible for these items you are encouraged to suggest that these would be handy to have posted or available where the device is located or stored.
A customer with a disability that is accompanied by a service animal, including a guide dog, will be allowed access to any Let’s Talk Science premises that are open the public unless otherwise excluded by applicable federal, provincial, or municipal law. Any “no pet” policies do not apply to service animals, including guide dogs, as these are working animals.
Recognizing a Service Animal or Guide Dog
If it is not readily apparent that the animal being used by the customer is for reasons relating to his or her disability, Let’s Talk Science may request certification from the customer. Verification may include:
- a letter from a regulated health professional confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons related to the disability;
- a valid identification card signed by the Attorney General of Canada; or,
- a certificate of training from a recognized guide dog or service animal training school
Care and Control of the Animal
The customer that is accompanied by the guide dog or service animal is responsible for maintaining care and control of the animal at all times.
If a health and safety concern presents itself, for example, in the form of a severe allergy to the animal, Let’s Talk Science will make all reasonable efforts to meet the needs of all individuals.
If a customer with a disability is accompanied by a support person, Let’s Talk Science will ensure that both persons are allowed to enter the premises together and that the customer is not prevented from having access to the support person.
There may be times where seating and availability prevent the customer and support person from sitting beside each other. In these situations Let’s Talk Science will make every reasonable attempt to resolve the issue.
In situations where confidential information might be discussed, consent will be obtained from the customer, prior to any conversation where confidential information might be discussed.
Let’s Talk Science events and activities are generally offered free of charge, thus a fee will not be charged for the accompanying support person.
However, there are times where Let’s Talk Science works in conjunction with partners and events that other organizations are hosting in delivering our programs. In these cases, an admission fee for the individual as well as their support person may apply.
Where a fee applies to an event, Let’s Talk Science volunteers are participating in the volunteer coordinator arranging the activity is responsible for advising those who sign up of any fee applicable, including those for support persons. The volunteer coordinator should also include information on admission fees that apply to an individual and/or their support person in any advertisement or promotion of the event. Where the volunteer coordinator does not have information about the amount of the fee information should be provided on where more information can be accessed.
Notice of Disruption in Service
Service disruptions may occur due to reasons that may or may not be within the control or knowledge of Let’s Talk Science. In the event of any temporary disruptions to facilities or services that customers with disabilities rely on to access Let’s Talk Science’s goods or services, a reasonable effort will be made to provide advance notice. In some circumstances such as in the situation of unplanned disruptions, advance notice may not be possible.
Notifications will include:
In the event that a notification needs to be posted, the following information will be included unless it is not already available or known:
- goods and services that are disrupted or unavailable;
- reason for the disruption;
- anticipated duration of the disruption;
- a description of alternate services or options.
When disruptions occur, Let’s Talk Science will provide notice by:
- posting notices in conspicuous places including: at the point of disruption, at the main entrance and nearest accessible entrance to the service disruption and on the Let’s Talk Science website, as applicable;
- contacting anyone with a scheduled meeting or appointment that will be unable to access the premises as a result of the service disruption;
- verbally notifying anyone scheduling a meeting or appointment; or
- by any other method that may be reasonable under the circumstances
Where there is a service disruption at a host post-secondary site the site will follow the same procedures as outlined above with the exception of posting notice of the disruption to their website in cases where the website is not managed directly by Let’s Talk Science. Where Let’s Talk Science does not directly manage the local website, the local representative will make a reasonable effort with the managing agent to post this notification on our behalf.
Customers who wish to provide feedback on the way Let’s Talk Science provides its products, programs, services, and information, including to those people with disabilities can contact Let’s Talk Science in person, by phone, by mail or email.
All feedback, including complaints, should be forwarded to Human Resources as outlined below for investigation. Anyone submitting feedback can expect to hear back from Let’s Talk Science within 10 business days of Let’s Talk Science’s receipt of the feedback.
In-person: 1510 Woodcock Street, Unit 12, London, ON N6H 5S1
By Phone: (877) 474-4081
By Mail: Human Resources
Let’s Talk Science 1510 Woodcock Street, Unit 12, London, ON N6H 5S1
By Email: [email protected]
As all Let’s Talk Science employees and volunteers have contact with the public in the course of conducting general company business or in providing program delivery services to members of the public, all employees and volunteers will be trained on providing accessible customer service to our program participants and the processes and procedures outlined in this policy for administering this effort.
Where Let’s Talk Science engages the services of others, including third parties, including external contractors who deal with the public on our behalf training will be provided to these individuals as outlined below.
Training Content and Process
All new staff members and volunteers are provided with a handout on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and Integrated Accessibility Standards at Let’s Talk Science when they commence their service to Let’s Talk Science.
Employees will be asked to read and acknowledge receipt and understanding of the document during their orientation period.
Volunteers and any others that receive training on accessible customer service at Let’s Talk Science will be provided with a handout on accessible customer service at Let’s Talk Science that outlines the items below including any relevant Let’s Talk Science procedures and where they can seek additional information if they have questions.
This training program will include:
- An overview of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005 and the requirements under the customer service standard.
- Let’s Talk Science’s plan related to the customer service standard, including the related administrative procedures.
- How to interact and communicate with people with various types of disabilities.
- How to interact with people with disabilities who use assistive devices or require the assistance of a service animal or a support person.
- How to use any assistive devices that Let’s Talk Science has on its premises.
- The steps to take if a person with a disability is having difficulty accessing Let’s Talk Science’s products, programs or services.
- Let’s Talk Science’s policies, procedures, and practices pertaining to providing accessible customer service to customers with disabilities.
Consistent with corporate policy and/or requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 or any other applicable legislation, Let’s Talk Science will either notify employees, volunteers, third party representatives, and external contractors of changes or arrange for revised training, as appropriate.
Record of Training
Let’s Talk Science will keep a record of training that includes all individuals who were trained and the dates that training was provided.
Notice of Availability and Format of Documents
This document constitutes the organization’s accessibility of customer service plan under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. It is available in both English and French and upon request in a format that takes into account the customer’s disability. It is also posted in a conspicuous place in all Let’s Talk Science office locations and on all websites operated by Let’s Talk Science/Parlons sciences under the heading “Accessibility”/“Accessibilité”.
Modification to This or Other Policies
Any policy of Let’s Talk Science that does not respect and promote the dignity and independence of people with disabilities will be modified or removed.
Conflict of this Policy with Other Legislation
Should the provisions in this policy conflict with applicable legislation the document that provides the higher level of accessibility to the customer shall prevail.
Date Adopted: 12/17/2012
Last Modification Date: 02/01/2019
Last Reviewed Date: 02/01/2019