Business and Operations
Providing quality service for the disabled
By Jelena Payne
By Jelena Payne
We all know that providing quality customer service is essential to achieving success in any business. The best customer service happens when businesses can adapt to the changing needs of their customers.
We all know that providing quality customer service is essential to
achieving success in any business. The best customer service happens
when businesses can adapt to the changing needs of their customers.
|People in Canada with disabilities have consumer-spending power of about $25 billion a year, according to an RBC Financial Group study.|
According to Statistics Canada, there are currently 4.4 million
Canadians living with a disability, and that number is quickly rising
as our baby boomer population ages. People with disabilities in this
country have consumer-spending power of about $25 billion a year, according to an RBC Financial Group
study. This growing group wants to frequent businesses that make them
feel comfortable (even when they need to ask for help), have respectful
and courteous staff and consider their needs when developing policies,
making changes or communicating with customers.
As we move into the future, businesses that are able to provide quality
service to customers with disabilities will have a distinct advantage
over those that are not.
In 2005, the Ontario government passed the Accessibility for Ontarians
with Disabilities Act (AODA). Under the act, the government has a goal
to make Ontario accessible by 2025 through standards that will break
down barriers in key areas of everyday life. Accessibility standards are being
developed in five areas: customer service, information and
communication (telephone systems, websites, menus, etc.),
transportation, employment and built environment (doorways, counters,
bathrooms, parking, etc.).
The first of these standards, the Accessibility Standards for Customer
Service, came into effect on Jan. 1, 2008, and applies to every
business that operates in Ontario, provides goods or services to the
public and has at least one employee. This standard has requirements
that must be met by Jan. 1, 2012, and these include training for staff.
You can find out more about your requirements at
This site offers free, up-to-date information on the accessibility
standards being developed, tips on no-cost and low-cost solutions to
meeting the requirements, as well as downloadable resources such as
policy templates and training materials.
You can begin to make your business more accessible to customers with
disabilities today by simply looking around and thinking about what the
customer experience is like for someone living with a disability. Think
about what barriers might currently exist and how you can take steps to
reduce or eliminate those barriers.
Accessibility is good for business. The hospitality industry in the
United States estimates that implementing standards under the Americans
with Disabilities Act increased their annual revenue by 12 per cent.
With close to 15 per cent of the population in Canada living with a
disability, and an aging population adding to that number every day,
it’s a market that no business – big or small – can afford to overlook.
Further information can be found by calling toll free 1-866-515-2025,
local in Toronto 416-325-3408 or by e-mailing
Jelena Payne is the manager of public education and partnerships for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.