In 2015, the Government of Manitoba introduced the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service, the first standard in The Accessibility Act for Manitobans. Accessibility standards are the building blocks of the act. They will be introduced gradually to create understanding and to allow for planning among affected organizations.
The standard applies to public, private and non-profit organizations with one or more employees. It also applies to third parties such as consultants and contractors.
What do businesses and organizations need to do to comply with the standard?
The standard includes a number of legal requirements. As a business or organization, you must comply with these requirements, as follows:
- Set up policies.
- Uphold the duty to reasonably accommodate as defined by The Human Rights Code (Manitoba).
- Welcome people with disabilities and provide them access to all goods, services, programs and opportunities. Some may have a support person who helps with communication, personal care or access to goods or services.
- Do not charge fees related to accommodating disabilities. This means avoiding charges for a support person, when possible.
- If an organization charges an admission fee for a support person, it should let them know ahead of time what, if any, admission will be charged.
- Inform people when there are temporary barriers to facilities or services. An example would be if the elevator is out of order.
- Ensure staff (including everyone who participates in, or is responsible for, the implementation of policies and practices) receives training on how to serve people disabled by barriers.
- Set up a process to receive and respond to feedback, including what action will be taken to respond to complaints.
- Make the information about the feedback process readily available to the public.
- Let the public know information is available in other formats, on request. An example would be documents available in large print and electronic versions.
- Do not apply standard pet policies to service animals. (These are animals who help people with disabilities overcome barriers.) People with service animals have the right to enter a restaurant, store, hotel, taxi or other place where the public, customers or guests are generally allowed.
When do businesses and organizations need to comply with the standard?
The Government of Manitoba and its departments have until November 2016 to comply â€“ one year after the standard has become law.
Public sector organizations have until November 2017 to comply â€“ two years after the standard has become law.
Private sector and non-profit organizations have until November 2018 to comply â€“ three years after the standard becomes law.