1. Shibley Righton LLP (the “Firm”) is committed to the objectives underlying the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the “AODA”), the purpose of which is to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities in Ontario with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation, and buildings, on or before January 1, 2025.
2. The AODA became law in 2005. The Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, being Ontario Regulation 429/07 made under the AODA, became law in January 2008 (the “Standards”). The purpose of the Standards is to make customer service accessible for people with disabilities.
3. Everyone within the Firm is expected to uphold this Policy and to work together to provide accessible client service for persons with disabilities. Everyone associated with the Firm, including but not limited to all lawyers, staff, employees, volunteers, and third party individuals and entities who deal with the public on the Firm’s behalf are bound by this Policy and procedures in this document. These individuals and entities are hereafter referred to as Service Providers.
4. The Firm is committed to aligning our client service policies, practices and procedures with the core principles of independence, dignity, integration, and equality of opportunity.
5. The principle of independence means that clients should have the opportunity to choose and not to be influenced, aided or controlled by others. Clients should be allowed to do things on their own without interference from others, unless the client requests assistance.
6. The principle of dignity means that all policies, practices or procedures should not exclude persons with disabilities from accessing the Firm’s services. All clients, including those with disabilities, are to be respected, valued, and treated equally.
7. The principle of integration means that clients with disabilities should be able to benefit from the same services, in the same or similar manner, and in the same place as other clients.
8. The principle of equal opportunity means that customers with disabilities should have the same opportunity to benefit fully from accessing our Firm’s services.
9. The Firm is committed to providing accessible services to all of our clients. We are dedicated to providing services that can be accessed in an equitable manner, as all of our clients are equally valued.
10. Communication is an integral part of the Firm’s client service commitment. The Firm is dedicated to making all reasonable efforts to take into account our clients’ disabilities when communicating with them. The Firm clearly understands that communication styles vary and that not all persons with the same disability use the same communication modalities. The Firm shall make every reasonable effort to ensure that its Service Providers take this into consideration and, when not sure, always ask our clients how best to communicate with them.
11. The Firm has committed to training its Service Providers on the various communication styles and how best to interact with all of our clients with all types of disabilities.
12. The Firm has made the necessary changes to ensure that our clients are aware that they may communicate with us in any reasonable modality when accessing our services.
13. The Firm is committed to providing communications, invoices and accounts for services rendered in any accessible format that the client may reasonably request, including, for example, hard copy, large print, e-mail, etc. The Firm will answer any questions our clients may have about the contents of our invoices in person, by telephone, email, or such other accessible format as they client may reasonably request.
14. The Firm is committed to providing accessible services to clients who may use assistive devices. Clients shall have unencumbered access to the assistive devices they bring with them for the purposes of accessing Firm services
15. Service Providers shall not operate or otherwise interfere with a person’s personal assistive device unless invited to do so by the person or his/her support person.
16. The Firm shall provide ongoing training to our Service Providers to ensure that they are familiar with the various types of assistive devices that may be used by persons with disabilities when accessing our services.
17. In accordance with section 4 of the Standards, the Firm is committed to ensuring that all clients who are accompanied by service animals, guide dogs, or support persons are able to access all parts of our premises that are open to the public or a third person.
18. Subsection 4(9) of the Standards states that an animal is a service animal if (a) it is readily apparent that the animal is being used for reasons related to a person’s disability; or (b) if the person provides a letter from a doctor or nurse confirming that the animal is required for reasons relating to the disability.
19. A person with a disability is permitted to enter Firm premises with a service animal unless the animal is specifically excluded by law. In the rare event that a service animal is not allowed into certain sections of our premises, the Firm will ensure that this information is communicated to our clients and that alternative appropriate measures are provided to enable the client with the disability to obtain, use or benefit from the good and/or services, using due sensitivity and diligence.
20. As part of the Firm’s commitment to accessible client service, the Firm will provide accessible notice in the case of a planned or unexpected service disruption to any our facilities or services that are accessed by our clients.
21. In accordance with section 5 of the Standards, the notice will include the reason(s) for the disruption, its anticipated duration, and a description of the alternative facilities or services that may be available during the disruption. This information will be made available in a prominent location, such as the Firm’s reception area, and on our website where appropriate, and in any other reasonable manner to ensure it is accessible to our clients.
22. When the disruption is planned, advance notice will be given.
23. The Firm’s emergency Service Providers are familiar with emergency procedures, and will know the best and most appropriate ways to assist clients or staff who needs assistance during an emergency.
24. To make certain that the provision of our services remains accessible to clients with disabilities, the Firm provides training to all of its Service Providers and to those responsible within our Firm for the development of our customer service polices, practices and procedures.
25. In accordance with section 6 of the Standards, the training includes the following information:
(a) a review of the purpose and provisions of the AODA and the Standards;
(b) how Service Providers should best interact and communicate with persons with various types of disabilities;
(c) how Service Providers should best interact and communicate with persons with disabilities who use assistive devices or are accompanied by support persons, service animals, or guide dogs;
(d) how Service Providers should best use assistive devices or equipment available on Firm premises or otherwise provided by the Firm that may help with the provision of services to a person; and
(e) what to do if a person with a particular type of disability is having difficulty accessing the Firm’s services.
26. The Firm understands that appropriate training is a key component in ensuring that the Firm continues to provide accessible client service. Accordingly, the Firm requires all new employees and Service Providers to complete the appropriate training as soon as practicable after commencing their employment. Moreover, the Firm shall provide ongoing training in connection with any changes to our policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of services to persons with disabilities.
27. The Director, Human Resources & Administration will maintain written training records, that include the date training was provided, the type of training, and the name of trainees.
28. As part of the Firm’s commitment to accessible client service, the Firm welcomes the opportunity to receive and respond to feedback concerning the manner in which it provides services to person with disabilities. In order to ensure our process is accessible, we welcome feedback through any of the following methods: in person, in writing, telephone, TTY, e-mail, or using our feedback forms posted on our Firm’s website.
29. The Firm is committed to responding to any complaints, questions or other feedback concerning the accessibility of its client service as soon as possible following receipt of same. Unless otherwise requested by the client or person providing the feedback, the Firm shall respond using the same method of communication by which the feedback was received.
30. This Policy will be made available in an alternative format upon request and within a reasonable time-frame once requested.
31. This Policy shall be reviewed by the Firm at least annually and revised as may be necessary from time to time.
32. Any questions or concerns regarding this Policy or the Firm’s provision of accessible client service may be directed to the Firm’s Director, Human Resources & Administration at firstname.lastname@example.org.