Accessibility: Customer Service Standard Policy

Trinity College is committed to provide information to all employees regarding the delivery of service, which includes how to interact and communicate with persons with various types of disabilities. The College will ensure that all staff and stakeholders receive accessible goods and services work in an accommodating environment, in a timely manner.

What is a disability?
  1. 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 vision 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,
  2. a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
  3. a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
  4. a mental disorder, or
  5. any injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act 1997; (“handicap”).
What is a barrier?
  1. Anything that prevents a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information barrier, a policy or practice; (“obstacle”).

Both the definition of a disability and barrier are as defined by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Customers with Vision Disabilities

Vision disabilities reduce one’s ability to see clearly. Very few people are totally blind. Many have limited vision such as tunnel vision, where a person has a loss of peripheral or side vision, or a lack of central vision, which means they cannot see straight ahead. Some can see the outline of objects while others can see the direction of light.

Vision disabilities can restrict your customers’ abilities to read signs, locate landmarks or see hazards. In some cases, it may be difficult to tell if a person has a vision disability. Others may use a guide dog or white cane.

  • Identify yourself when you approach your customer and speak directly to them.
  • Speak normally and clearly.
  • Never touch your customer without asking permission, unless it’s an emergency.
  • If you offer assistance, wait until your receive permission.
  • Offer your arm (the elbow) to guide the person and walk slowly.
  • Don’t touch or address service animals – they are working and have to pay attention at all times.
  • If you’re giving directions or verbal information, be precise and clear. For example, if you’re approaching a door or an obstacle, say so.
  • Don’t just assume the individual can’t see you.
  • Don’t leave your customer in the middle of a room. Show them to a chair, or guide them to a comfortable location.
  • Identify landmarks or other details to orient your customer to the environment around them.
  • Don’t walk away without saying good-bye.
  • Be patient. Things may take a little longer.

Customers who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

People who have hearing loss may be deaf or hard of hearing. Like other disabilities, hearing loss has a wide variety of degrees. Remember, customers who are deaf or hard of hearing may require assistive devices when communicating.

  • Always ask how you can help. Don’t shout.
  • Attract the customer’s attention before speaking. The best way is a gentle touch on the shoulder or gently waving your hand.
  • Make sure you are in a well-lighted area where your customer can see your face.
  • Look at and speak directly to your customer. Address your customer, not their interpreter.
  • If necessary, ask if another method of communicating would be easier, for example a pen and paper.
  • Don’t put your hands in front of your face when speaking.
  • Be clear and precise when giving directions, and repeat or rephrase if necessary. Make sure you have been understood.
  • Don’t touch or address service animals – they are working and have to pay attention at all times.
  • Any personal (e.g., financial) matters should be discussed in a private room to avoid other people overhearing.
  • Be patient. Communication for people who are deaf may be different because their first language may not be English. It may be American Sign Language (ASL).
  • If the person uses a hearing aid, try to speak in an area with few competing sounds.

Customers who are Deaf-Blind

A person who is deaf-blind cannot see or hear to some extent. This results in greater difficulties in accessing information and managing daily activities. Most people who are deaf-blind will be accompanied by an intervenor, a professional who helps with communicating. Intervenors are trained in special sign language that involves touching the hands of the client in a two-hand, manual alphabet or finger spelling, and may guide and interpret for their client.

  • Don’t assume what a person can or cannot do. Some people who are deaf-blind have some sight or hearing, while others have neither.
  • A customer who is deaf-blind is likely to explain to you how to communicate with them or give you an assistance card or a note explaining how to communicate with them.
  • Speak directly to your customer as you normally would, not to the intervenor.
  • Identify yourself to the intervenor when you approach your customer who is deaf-blind.
  • Don’t touch or address service animals – they are working and have to pay attention at all times.
  • Never touch a person who is deaf-blind suddenly or without permission unless it’s an emergency.

Customers with Physical Disabilities

There are many types and degrees of physical disabilities, and not all require a wheelchair. People who have arthritis, heart or lung conditions or amputations may also have difficulty with moving, standing or sitting. It may be difficult to identify a person with a physical disability.

  • Speak normally and directly to your customer. Don’t speak to someone who is with them.
  • People with physical disabilities often have their own ways of doing things. Ask before you help.
  • Be patient. Customers will identify their needs to you.
  • Don’t touch assistive devices, including wheelchairs, unnecessarily unless it’s an emergency.
  • Provide your customer information about accessible features of the immediate environment (automatic doors, accessible washrooms, etc.).
  • Remove obstacles and rearrange furniture to ensure clear passage.

Customers with Speech or Language Impairments

Some people have problems communicating. It could be the result of cerebral palsy, hearing loss, or another condition that makes it difficult to pronounce words, causes slurring or stuttering, or not being able to express oneself or understand written or spoken language. Some people who have severe difficulties may use communication boards or other assistive devices.

  • Just because a person has one disability doesn’t mean they have another. For example, if a customer has difficulty speaking; don’t assume they have an intellectual or developmental disability as well.
  • If you don’t understand, ask your customer to repeat the information.
  • If you are able, ask questions that can be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Be patient and polite, and give your customer whatever time he/she needs to get his/her point across.
  • Don’t interrupt or finish your customer’s sentences. Wait for them to finish.
  • Patience, respect and a willingness to find a way to communicate are your best tools. 

Customers who have Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities can result in a host of different communications difficulties for people. They can be subtle, as in having difficulty reading, or more pronounced, but they can interfere with your customer’s ability to receive, express or process information. You may not be able to know that someone has one of these disabilities unless you are told, or you notice the way people act, ask questions or use body language.

  • Patience and a willingness to find a way to communicate are your best tools.
  • When you know that someone with a learning disability needs help, ask how you can best help.
  • Speak normally and clearly, and directly to your customer.
  • Take some time — people with some kinds of learning disabilities may take a little longer to understand and respond.
  • Try to find ways to provide information in a way that works best for them. For example, have a paper and pen handy.
  • If you’re dealing with a child, be patient, encouraging and supportive.
  • Be courteous and patient and your customer will let you know how to best provide service in a way that works for them.

 

Feedback on this policy and on the AODA provision and services may be provided to Human Resources at hr@trinity.utoronto.ca or 416-978-8760 ext. 2760.

Review/Revised Date: October 9, 2009, November 20, 2014