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AODA – Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Produced: Dec 8, 2011

At Birkett-Hassard Insurance, we are committed to meeting the requirements of the accessibility standards, established by Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005, Customer Service Standard regulations, by January 1, 2012.

Our Mission

To make reasonable efforts to ensure that policies, procedures, and practices, pertaining to the provision of goods and services to the public and other third parties, align with the independence, dignity, integration and equal opportunity guiding principles, as set out in Bill 188.

Birkett-Hassard Insurance values excellence in customer service for everyone who may benefit from our goods and services. This policy supports the principles as it provides respectful services that focus on the unique needs of each individual. This policy enables Birkett-Hassard Insurance to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to accessible and exceptional customer service.

Our Commitment

In fulfilling our missions, Birkett-Hassard Insurance aims at all times to provide its goods and services in a way that respects the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. We are committed to giving people with disabilities the same opportunity to access our goods and services.

Through these policies and procedures, Birkett-Hassard Insurance aims to be respectful to the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities and we are committed to providing accessible integrated programs and services that are designed to meet individual needs.

A disability includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • 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 co-ordinations, 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 learning disability, or a 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 Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

Accessible shall mean capable of being entered or reached, approachable; easy to get at; capable of being influenced, obtainable; able to be understood or appreciated.

Barrier: Anything that keeps someone with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of their disability. Barriers can be visible and invisible. They can be: architectural, physical, communication, attitudinal, technological and organizational.

Assistive Device shall mean a device used to assist persons with disabilities in carrying out activities or in accessing the services of persons or organizations covered by the Customer Service Standard. Assistive devices help people with a variety of disabilities.

Here are some examples:

For people who have vision loss: magnifier – makes print and images larger and easier to read;
White cane – helps people find their way around obstacles.

For people who are deaf, deafened, oral deaf, hard of hearing: hearing aid – makes sound louder and clearer, teletypewriter (TTY) – helps people who are unable to speak or hear to communicate by phone;

For people who have physical disabilities: mobility device (e.g., a wheelchair, scooter, walker, cane, crutches) – helps people who have difficulty walking;

For people who have learning disabilities: electronic notebook or laptop computer – used to take notes and to communicate;

For people who have intellectual/developmental disabilities: communication boards that are used to pass on a message by pointing to symbols, words or pictures.

Guide Dog shall mean a dog trained as a guide for a person who is blind and having the qualifications prescribed by the appropriate regulations.

Goods and Services shall mean goods and services provided by Birkett-Hassard Insurance.

Service Animals shall mean animals that are used as a service animal for a person with a disability.

Support Person shall mean an individual hired or chosen by a person with a disability to provide services or assistance with communication, mobility, personal care, medical needs or with access to goods or services.
Policy

This policy applies to Birkett-Hassard Insurance staff members, including full time, part time and contractors, who deal with the public or other third parties, as well as persons involved in developing policies, procedures and practices pertaining to the provision of goods and services to the public or other third parties.

Procedure

Birkett-Hassard Insurance is committed to excellence in serving all customers including people with disabilities and we will carry out our functions and responsibilities in the following areas:

Communication:

  • We will communicate with people with disabilities in ways that take into account their disability.
  • We will train staff who communicate with customers on how to interact and communicate with people with various types of disabilities.
  • Incorporate other ways of publishing information beyond traditional printing. Here are some examples: audio format such as digital audio format, videos that may be helpful to people with certain learning disabilities, easy-to-read, simplified summaries of materials for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities;

Telephone Services:

  • We are committed to providing fully accessible telephone service to our customers. We will train staff to communicate with customers over the telephone in clear and plain language and to speak clearly and slowly.
  • We will offer to communicate with customers by mail, email or TTY if telephone communication is not suitable to their communication needs or is not available.

Assistive Devices

  • We are committed to serving people with disabilities who use assistive devices to obtain, use or benefit from our goods and services. We will ensure that our staff is trained and familiar with various assistive devices that may be used by customers with disabilities while accessing our goods or services.
  • We will also ensure that staff knows how to use the following assistive devices available on our premises for customers: TTY, computer program to enlarge print.

Billing

  • We are committed to providing accessible invoices to all of our customers. For this reason, invoices will be provided in the following formats upon request: hard copy, large print, email, fax.
  • We will answer any questions customers may have about the content of the invoice in person, by telephone, fax or email as required.

Use of Service Animals and Support Persons

  • We are committed to welcoming people with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal on the parts of our premises that are open to the public and other third parties. We will also ensure that all staff, volunteers and others dealing with the public are properly trained in how to interact with people with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal.
  • We are committed to welcoming people with disabilities who are accompanied by a support person. Any person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person will be allowed to enter Birkett-Hassard Insurance premises with his or her support person. At no time will a person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person be prevented from having access to his or her support person while on our premises.

Notice of Temporary Disruption

  • Birkett-Hassard Insurance will provide customers with notice in the event of a planned or unexpected disruption in the facilities or services usually used by people with disabilities. This notice will include information about the reason for the disruption, its anticipated duration, and a description of alternative facilities or services, if available;
  • This notice will be placed at all public entrances and service counters or reception on our premises.

Training for Staff

  • Birkett-Hassard Insurance will provide training to all employees, volunteers, and others who deal with the public or other third parties on their behalf, and all those who are involved in the development and approvals of customer service policies, practices and procedures. All individuals employed by Birkett-Hassard Insurance will be trained.
  • This training will be provided within 10 days after staff commences their duties;
  • Training will include the following:
      – The purposes of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and the requirements of the customer service standard;
      – 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 TTY Services and large print computer program available on our premises or otherwise that may help with the provision of goods or services to people with disabilities;
    1. – What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty in accessing Birkett-Hassard Insurance goods and services;
      – Birkett-Hassard Insurance policies, practices and procedures relating to the customer service standard.
  • Applicable staff will be trained on policies, practices and procedures that affect the way goods and services are provided to people with disabilities. Staff will also be trained on an ongoing basis when changes are made to these policies, practices and procedures.

Feedback Process

  • The ultimate goal of Birkett-Hassard Insurance is to meet and exceed customer expectations in serving customers with disabilities. Comments on our services regarding how well those expectations are being met are welcome and appreciated.
  • Feedback regarding the way Birkett-Hassard Insurance provides goods and services to people with disabilities can be made by using the Customer Feedback Form and emailing, faxing, verbally discussing or placing in the suggestion box. All feedback will be directed to the President. Customers can expect to hear back in 7 days with regards to their feedback.

Modifications to this or other policies.

We are committed to developing customer service policies that respect and promote the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. Therefore, no changes will be made to this policy before considering the impact on people with disabilities. Any policy of Birkett-Hassard Insurance that does not respect and promote the dignity and independence of people with disabilities will be modified or removed.

Questions about this Policy

This policy exists to achieve service excellence for customers with disabilities. If anyone has a question about the policy, or if the purpose of a policy is not understood, an explanation should be provided by, or referred to, the President of Birkett-Hassard Insurance.

Birkett-Hassard Insurance is committed to developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods and services. Our policies and procedures will aim at making our customer service operations accessible to people with disabilities.

This Customer Service Policy is to be posted and retained in a clearly noticeable location in the workplace.

Birkett-Hassard Insurance is committed to reviewing this policy on an annual basis, or more frequently where necessary.

Further information on any of the above policies and the applicable programs and procedures can be obtained from Michelle McBeth, President.

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