This Policy is consistent with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Customer Service Standard) made under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).
1. Purpose and Commitment
The Firm is committed to maintaining an accessible environment for persons with disabilities in the delivery of its goods and services.
The Firm will use reasonable efforts to ensure that its policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of its services to persons with disabilities are consistent with the following principles:
❖ goods and services are provided in a way that respects the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities;
❖ persons with disabilities are able to benefit from the same services, in the same place and in a similar way as other clients;
❖ persons with disabilities have opportunities equal to as others to obtain, use and benefit from the Firm's goods or services.
For the purposes of this policy: "Disability" means,
a) 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-ordination, 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,
b) a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
c) a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
c) a mental disorder, or
d) an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.
"Guide dog" means a dog trained as a guide for a person who is blind or visually impaired.
"Service animal" means an animal for a person with disabilities where it is readily apparent that the animal is used by the person for reasons relating to his or her disability or where the person provides a letter from a physician or nurse confirming that the he or she requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability.
"Support person" means, in relation to a person with disabilities, another person who accompanies him or her in order to help with communication, mobility, personal care or medical needs or with access to goods and services.
3. Application of Policy
This policy applies to Firm services that are provided externally to the public or third parties.
The policy applies to all lawyers, paralegals and staff at the Firm, agents, volunteers, clients, and visitors to the Firm. All areas of the Firm are accountable for providing accessibility to persons with disabilities.
4. Providing Goods and Services with People with Disabilities
The Firm is committed to excellence in serving all clients, including persons with disabilities, and will carry out its functions and responsibilities by,
❖ communicating with persons with disabilities in ways that take into account their disability.
❖ serving persons with disabilities who use assistive devices. The Firm will provide its staff with training on how to use the assistive devices available on the Firm premises.
❖ ensuring that persons with disabilities who are accompanied by their guide dog or other service animals are permitted to enter the premises of the Firm with the animal and to keep the animal with them, unless the animal is excluded by law from the premises.
❖ ensuring that persons with disabilities who are accompanied by a support person are permitted to enter the Firm's premises with their support person. At no time will persons with disabilities who are accompanied by their support person be prevented from having access to their support person while on the Firm premises.
5. Support Persons
Person with disabilities may enter the Firm's premises with a support person and have access to the support person while on the premises.
The Firm does not charge fees for support persons or if fees are charged for admission to the premises (e.g. special events), the Firm shall provide notice of the amount in advance.
The Firm may require persons with disabilities to be accompanied by a support person when on the premises, but only if a support person is necessary to protect the health and safety of the person with disabilities or the health or safety of others on the premises.
6. Service Animals
A person with disabilities may be accompanied by a guide dog or other service animal when on the Firm premises. In the event that service animals are excluded by law from the premises, the firm will provide other resources or supports to enable the person with disabilities to access the services and goods offered by the Firm.
7. Notice of Temporary Disruption
The Firm will notify the public in the event of a planned or unexpected disruption in the facilities or services usually used by persons 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. The notices will be posted at all public entrances and service counters of the Firm, or communicated by such method as is reasonable in the circumstances.
8. Training for Staff
The Firm will train its staff and other individuals who provide services to the public on the Firm's behalf on the provision of its goods or services to persons with disabilities.
The training will be provided as soon as practicable after a staff commences his or her duties and will include the following topics:
❖ 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 persons with various types of disabilities;
❖ how to interact with persons with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a guide dog, service animal or a support person;
❖ how to use or access the equipment or devices available on the Firm's premises or otherwise that may help with the provision of goods or services to persons with disabilities;
❖ what to do if a person with a particular type of disability is having difficulty in accessing the Firm's goods and services;
❖ the Firm's policies, practices and procedures relating to the customer service standard.
❖ The Firm will provide training on an ongoing basis when changes are made to the Firm's policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of goods or services to persons with disabilities.
9. Feedback Process
The Firm welcomes any feedback regarding the methods it uses to provide goods and services to persons with disabilities. Individuals may provide their feedback in person, by telephone, in writing, or by delivering an electronic text by email.
10. Modifications to this or other Policies
Changes will not be made to this policy unless the impact of the changes on persons with disabilities has been considered.
Any Firm policy that does not respect and promote the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities will be modified or removed.