Strategies and Requirements for Providing
For a printable brochure, please visit: http://accessibility.uwo.ca/AODA/docs/Staff_Brochure_Accessible_Service.pdf
§ Western’s Commitment to Accessibility
§ Case Studies in Accessible Service: What Would You Do?
§ AODA Requirements: Strategies for Implementation
§ General Tips for Providing Accessible Service
§ Specific Tips for Interacting with Persons with Various Disabilities
Western’s Commitment to Accessibility
Western is committed to increasing accessibility for persons with disabilities who study, visit, or work at Western. We can increase accessibility by proactively identifying and removing barriers so persons with disabilities can receive service in a respectful way.
By law, each person who interacts with students, alumni, visitors, retirees, other organizations, or other members of the public is required to know and follow the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Ont. Reg. 429/07) as part of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
We are required to communicate with persons with disabilities in a manner that takes their disability into account, and make reasonable efforts to align our practices with four principles of accessible service:
§ Dignity (person is able to maintain their self-respect and the respect of others)
§ Independence (person is able to do things on their own without unnecessary help)
§ Integration (person is able to benefit from the same services, in the same place, and in the same or similar ways as others)
§ Equal Opportunity (person is able to have the same opportunity as others to benefit from the way we provide goods and services)
Requirements Include: Allowing assistive devices and welcoming service animals and support persons; giving notice of temporary service disruptions (e.g. department closures or elevators out of service); inviting feedback on accessibility at Western; documenting and communicating special accessibility measures in your area; learning about the AODA; keeping training records; and, most importantly, taking disabilities into account when communicating with persons with disabilities. Please review this document to learn about the accessibility requirements and identify what you and your colleagues can do to improve access to your services.
Case Studies in Accessible Service: What Would You Do?
1. You work in the Registrar’s Office and are involved in distributing student loan packages. Students are required to sign their name when they receive their material. Ari approaches your table in a wheelchair, accompanied by a support person. Ari has no arms and you wonder how you will get his signature.
What can you do to ensure Ari gets his package and moves along in the line in the same way the rest of the students do?
2. Alice, an alumna, has significant vision loss. She plans to attend a special lecture you arranged by a renowned visiting researcher. Alice contacts you and asks for the materials in plain text ahead of time so she can use her text reading software. You tell her someone will get the materials from the visiting lecturer and post them on the web the day after the presentation.
Will this arrangement honour the principles of accessible service?
3. Leslie’s mom has a mental health disability that involves severe panic attacks when she is surrounded by other people, or can’t make her way through crowds easily. Leslie’s mom wants to be at your Department’s student award ceremony, to see her daughter receive an award. Leslie calls you to explain her challenge; she is afraid that her mom will be stuck in the middle of a crowd.
What are some solutions to ensure Leslie’s mom has equal opportunity to enjoy this event?
For tips on how to help persons with disabilities – see the sections on the Service PACTT, Physical Disabilities, and Mental Health Disabilities.
AODA Requirements: Strategies for Implementation
Requirement: Assistive Devices
Assistive devices include wheelchairs, walkers, canes, hearing aids, listening devices (e.g. FM systems), laptops with screen-reading software, etc.
§ Allow persons with disabilities to use their assistive devices unless this use compromises academic integrity.
§ The assistive device is an extension of the person’s personal space – touch only if asked to, and don’t move it out of the person’s reach.
§ If your unit provides assistive devices or offers special practices for serving persons with disabilities, ensure you know how they work. Communicate the availability of the devices and practices to those you serve.
Requirement: Service Animals
Service animals include guide dogs, hearing alert animals, and animals who help calm anxiety or alert their owner to oncoming seizures. The owner is responsible for the care and control of the animal.
§ Allow the service animal in your area, except where prohibit by law.
§ If, by law, you believe the animal is not allowed in your area (e.g. health and safety reasons), review the situation with Occupational Health & Safety (x84741). You are required to work with the person with a disability to find an alternative way to provide assistance.
§ Avoid touching or distracting a service animal – it is working and has to pay attention at all times.
Requirement: Support Persons
A support person can be a personal support worker, a volunteer, a family member or friend who provides physical assistance, personal care, interpretation, note taking, or other services to the person with a disability.
§ Welcome and allow access to support persons provided the interaction does not compromise academic integrity.
§ Speak directly with the person with a disability, not the support person.
§ Ask if it is not clear who the support person is.
§ Plan for support persons; save space for them and provide both parties with written materials.
§ Waive fees for support persons when possible. If a fee is charged, provide notice of the amount in advance.
Requirement: Notice of Service Disruptions
Disruptions in service are to be communicated for services/facilities usually used by persons with disabilities.
Notify students of local disruptions (e.g. a cancelled class or department closure) directly via email, signage, and department websites. By law, notices must indicate:
1) the reason for the disruption (e.g. department meeting)
2) the expected duration
3) a description of alternate facilities or services, if available
Note: Broad disruptions at Western in physical facilities (e.g. elevators, buildings), ITS web and data services, and Campus Recreation are posted at: http://www.accessibility.uwo.ca/disruptions.htm By request, the website can post disruptions for a department if you cannot directly contact those who will be affected. Use this in addition to your local communication.
Requirement: Accessibility Feedback
A feedback process is required under the accessibility standards. Continue to receive direct feedback as you would for any aspect of your service. Let those you serve know that the Accessibility at Western feedback process is also available. Email: email@example.com or call x85562. Feedback will be forwarded to the appropriate individual or area for follow-up.
Units and departments are to document any unique procedures or practices they use to provide service to persons with disabilities that are not included in Western’s Guideline for Accessible Goods and Services. Notify the public through your website, or other public methods, that the documents are available upon request.
Note: Western’s policies and guidelines can be found at: http://www.accessibility.uwo.ca/
Learning about accessibility is required for (a) all staff members, faculty, contractors, volunteers and others who interact with members of the public and (b) every person involved in the development of policies, practices, and procedures regarding goods and services (including education). Our public includes students, alumni, visitors, retirees and other organizations.
Learning is to take place for each person as soon as practicable after duties have been assigned and must occur whenever there are changes to policies, practices, and procedures.
Training records are to be kept. Western Human Resource Services will track HR-sponsored in-person and on-line learning. For unit-based training, leaders are to record the person’s name, employee ID number (unless the person is a volunteer) and date of training in an Excel file. Leaders are to provide training records to Human Resources upon request.
Requirement: Communicate Effectively
We are expected to communicate in a manner that takes into account a person’s disability. This includes, but is not limited to, print, verbal, and interpersonal communication used in delivering service. Keep the following Service PACTT in mind when you are interacting with a person with a disability and use the resources on the back of this brochure if you need some extra support.
General Tips for Providing Accessible Service
Keep this Overall Service PACTT:
Pay calm, individual attention to the other person
§ Avoid making assumptions about a person’s capabilities.
§ Adjust posture/sit down as needed for face-to-face service.
§ Ask “How May I help?”
§ Usually, a person with a disability knows what works best for him/ her.
§ Before ending your interaction, ask “Does this information answer your question?”
Communicate clearly and patiently to ensure shared understanding
§ Allow the person to finish what he is saying without interrupting.
§ Provide one piece of information at a time; repeat or rephrase as necessary.
§ If you don’t understand what’s being said, don’t pretend, ask again.
§ As needed, ask if another method of communicating would be easier—e.g. always have a pen and paper available.
Treat the other person with respect
§ Focus on the person as a unique individual.
§ Pay attention to her dignity, independence, sense of integration and equality.
Try to see the world in terms of accessibility
§ Take into account the ways persons with disabilities experience your services.
§ Know the location of nearby ramps, elevators, automatic doors, accessible washrooms, etc.
§ Use “disability,” not “handicapped” or “impaired.”
§ Say “person with a learning disability” rather than “learning disabled.” Put the person first.
§ Concentrate on what’s being said, not how the person’s voice sounds.
§ Address the person with a disability directly, even if the person is using an interpreter over the phone.
§ If communication is very difficult, make arrangements to call a support person.
§ Ensure the area is well-lit so faces are visible for lip-reading.
§ Clear aisles, remove obstacles.
§ Keep furniture layout the same over time, if possible.
§ Reduce background noise.
Using alternate formats means making information available in ways other than the original format. For example, some persons access information through computer software that translates text into audio or enlarged print formats.
§ In general, documents that have more complicated formatting present the most problems for screen reading software. Plain text, Word, and rtf documents are the most accessible formats and usually can be read by persons who use screen reading and text reading software. In contrast, pdf (including accessible pdf) and html are usually less accessible for persons who use screen reading software. Powerpoint or adobe documents are least accessible, and usually require additional steps in order to make them accessible.
§ Avoid scanned images.
§ Provide information in advance – this can be helpful for those with vision loss, hearing loss, or learning disabilities.
§ Identify textbooks as early as possible, to give the person with a disability time to have them produced in an alternate format such as Braille.
§ Design websites and web content in an accessible format. Use templates and best practices provided by Communications and Public Affairs: http://www.communications.uwo.ca/comms/web.htm
§ Visit the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services website to learn more about making information accessible: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/accesson/tools/making_information_accessible.aspx
§ Add a standard line to invitations such as “Please contact (name) if you require information in an alternate format, or if any other arrangements can make this event accessible to you.”
§ In the invitation, describe the location of ramps, automatic doors, elevators, etc.
§ Include a link to the campus accessibility map: http://www.accessibility.uwo.ca/maps.htm
Specific Tips for Interacting with Persons with Various Types of Disabilities
1. Learning Disabilities
Persons with learning disabilities may have problems with reading and language-based learning, organizing ideas when speaking and writing, working with visual-spatial information, or carrying out calculations and other problem solving tasks quickly. Having a learning disability does not mean a person is incapable of learning. Rather, it means he learns in a different way.
§ Ask the person how he would like to receive information. For example, if you have written material, offer to read the information aloud.
§ Be willing to explain something again, and allow extra time to complete a task.
2. Mental Health Disabilities
Mental health disabilities can cause changes in a person’s thinking, emotional state and behaviour and can disrupt the person’s ability to work. These changes may also affect the way the person interacts with others. With most mental health problems, the symptoms are not static and can improve or worsen over time. These disabilities are often invisible.
§ Ask the best way you can help.
§ Be patient and respectful. A person with a mental health disability may have difficulty concentrating.
§ Avoid assuming a therapeutic role. If you are concerned about a person’s mental health or emotional well-being, refer the individual to the appropriate service. Students can seek resources at: http://www.sds.uwo.ca/psych/index.html?crisis Staff or Faculty can contact Rehabilitation Services at x85578
§ If the person is in crisis and you are concerned about his or her safety or the safety of a third party, call Western’s 911 Emergency Services for medical or other assistance.
3. Physical Disabilities
There are many types and degrees of physical disability. Some people may use assistive devices. Others may have conditions such as arthritis, or heart or lung conditions and may have difficulty with moving, standing, or sitting for long periods.
§ Ask before providing help. Persons with physical disabilities often have their own way of doing things.
§ If the person uses a wheelchair or scooter, sit down beside him/her to enable eye contact and reduce neck strain for longer interactions.
§ Offer preferential seating.
§ If you have permission to move a person in a wheelchair, avoid leaving the person in an awkward position, such as facing a wall.
4. Hearing Loss
There are different types of hearing loss. Commonly used terms are hard of hearing, deafened, deaf and Deaf. Persons who are deafened or hard of hearing may use devices such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, or FM systems; they also may rely on lip reading. A person with little or no functional hearing may use sign language.
§ Ensure you have his/her attention before speaking. Discreetly wave your hand or gently tap the shoulder if needed.
§ Reduce background noise.
§ Keep your face visible to enable lip reading. If the person is using an interpreter, speak directly to the person not the interpreter.
§ Speak clearly, pacing your speech and pauses normally. Don’t shout or over-pronounce your words.
§ Offer to communicate in writing (pen and paper) as needed.
5. Vision Loss
Few people with vision loss are totally blind. Some have limited vision, such as the loss of side, peripheral, or central vision.
§ Don’t assume the person cannot see you.
§ To get the person’s attention, address him/her directly; say your name; do not touch the person.
§ Ask the person in which format she would like to receive information.
§ When providing printed information, offer to read, summarize or describe it.
§ Don’t be afraid to use words such as “see”, “read”, or “look”.
§ When offering to guide someone, hold out your elbow. Give clear, precise directions.
People who are deafblind have a combination of vision and hearing loss. Many persons who are deafblind will be accompanied by an intervenor, a person who helps with communicating. Many different ways may be used to communicate, including sign language, tactile sign language, Braille, speech and lip reading.
§ Ask the person what will help the two of you to communicate.
§ Many people will explain what to do, perhaps giving you an assistance card or note.
§ Suddenly touching a person who is deafblind can be alarming and should only be done in emergencies.
7. Speech or Language Disabilities
Some persons have problems expressing themselves, or understanding written or spoken language.
§ Don’t assume that a person who has difficulty speaking also has an intellectual or developmental disability.
§ Allow the person to complete what he is saying without interruptions.
§ If you don’t understand, ask the person to repeat the information.
§ Ask questions that can be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
§ If the person uses a communication board, symbols or cards, follow her lead.
8. Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities
Intellectual or developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome can limit a person’s ability to learn, communicate, and live independently.
§ As much as possible, treat persons with an intellectual or developmental disability like anyone else.
§ Speak slowly and use plain language.
§ Provide one piece of information at a time.
§ Ask “Is this clear?” to check your communication.
How can I help someone who is having difficulty accessing my services?
§ Ask the person how you may best help him or her.
§ If you see that a service or facility isn’t working, contact the unit responsible.
§ Seek help from Western resources listed below. listed below.
§ Inform the person of the Accessibility at Western feedback process if the issue is unresolved: firstname.lastname@example.org
Advice Regarding Students: Services for Students with Disabilities in the Student Development Centre:
Advice Regarding Staff and Faculty: Rehabilitation Services:
Advice Regarding Teaching Practices: Teaching Support Centre: http://www.uwo.ca/tsc/
Alternate Format Inquiries: email@example.com
Building Inquiries (e.g. lights, ramps, elevators): Physical Plant: firstname.lastname@example.org
Advice on the Use of Service Animals in Labs or Other Sensitive Environments: Occupational Health and Safety
Classroom Technology; Accessible Desks: Classroom Management Group (CMG): http://www.ipb.uwo.ca/cmg/
Accessibility Feedback: email@example.com
This information is prepared in accordance with Western’s Guideline Regarding Accessible Goods and Services and the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service of Ontario (Ontario Regulation 429/07), under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) (2005). The goal of the AODA is to make Ontario accessible through the development of accessibility standards. A companion brochure, Accessibility in Teaching, and additional information and resources about Accessibility at Western are available at: www.accessibility.uwo.ca