Accessibility for Ontarians Disability Act Policy:
Heat-Line is committed to treating all people in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence. Heat-Line believes in integration and equal opportunity. We are committed to meeting the needs of all people with a disability in a timely manner and will do so by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility and meeting accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act.
Positive training methods coupled with clear policies are enacted to provide our employees with the knowledge, tools, and compassion to interact meaningfully with individuals who live with physical, mental or communication challenges.
Heat-Line empowers its employees to engage with each other and members of the public with any method available to them that will result in a positive and meaningful interaction for all individuals.
Recognizing Disabilities and Accommodating Individuals:
Employees are to be flexible with their approach with individuals with disability. Every disability comes in varying levels and degrees. Sometimes people who are categorized as blind may have some level of sight so do not assume or take control. The first step in dealing with a disabled person is to ask, “how can I help?”. People often know what they need to interact but cannot achieve it on their own due to the disability. People with disabilities will be very familiar with what they require and will tell one early in the interaction. Be sure to listen and calmly apply the tools in this policy that will help.
People with Physical Disabilities:
A person with physical disabilities may be in a wheelchair or use an assistive device, such as, crutches, a cane, or a walker, however they may not have an assistive device but they may be someone who has a condition that affects their balance and/or mobility, for example, the distance they are able to walk or the amount of time they can spend standing. Encountering employees or customers with physical disabilities may occur at any time.
- If one feels that one will have a lengthy conversation with someone using a wheelchair, scooter, or assistive device, consider finding a place to sit in order to make eye contact easily. This provides a more comfortable position for the person as they do not have to look up all the time. This also takes away the superiority of talking down to someone and provides a sense of dignity; and
- Be sure to avoid a conflictive or argumentative conversation. Stress and agitation can have effects on someone with chronic pain issues or heart and breathing problems. Use techniques such as offering a break to review details or suggesting passing the particular topic for the time being and discussing other elements that are not as inflamed. Return to the topic when there is less to be resolved from the meeting.
- If a person has a physical disability, then they may have limitation in their daily life. The distance they can walk, the length of time they can be in the cold, possibly even being able to leave their home may be an issue. It is important to recognize these limitations in disabled people and adjust one’s approach to suit the situation. This adjustment can be stopping to talk or walking slower or keeping the meeting within the person’s comfort zone; and
- One may encounter someone with a physical disability who will try to push their limitations and may or may not struggle. If one notices or recognizes someone is struggling or beyond acceptable limitation, change one’s approach to make the situation suitable for the individual. Someone who will struggle or is struggling to get out of their car should be offered to be serviced while they stay in their car if possible.
- To negotiate the general environment, many disabled people will use assistive devices. In our business, these devices may not work well enough or not at all and consideration should be taken for this. Someone using a cane or wheelchair may only be able to travel on solid level ground. Consider other alternative to meet with this person to avoid safety hazards;
- Never touch items or equipment such as wheelchairs or assistive devices without permission;
- If given permission to move one’s wheelchair, scooter or assistive device, do not position in an awkward spot or undignified place such as in front of entrance or exit doors; and
- If moving equipment that is not occupied, be sure that it is returned to its previous position or in a location where it can be accessed and used again.
People with Vision Loss:
Vision loss can restrict someone’s ability to read, locate landmarks or see hazards. Some individuals may use a guide dog or a white cane, while others may not. When one knows someone has vision loss, do not assume the individual cannot see. Many people who have low vision still have some sight.
- Do not assume an individual cannot see;
- Do not touch the individual without asking permission;
- Do not touch or speak to service animals;
- Speak clearly and introduce oneself by stating one’s name even if familiar with the individual;
- When providing printed information, offer to read it to the individual. Some people with vision loss may have a screen reader which an e-mail would satisfy; and
- If one needs to leave the individual with vision loss, let them know one will be back.
People with Hearing Loss:
Hearing loss is divided into three categories:
1. Oral deaf describes a person who was born deaf or became deaf before learning to speak; they may communicate with sign language or speech;
2. Deafened defines a person who has lost their hearing usually in adulthood. They will talk, gesture, speak, read and or use sign language; and
3. Hard of hearing describes a person who uses their residual hearing to communicate. Listening, hearing aids, sign language, or other communication devices may be used.
Dealing with a hearing-impaired individual, one may use assistance such as paper and pen, amplification devices, phone amplifiers, or a support person. Keep in mind the following when communicating with a hearing impaired individual,
Attract attention before speaking;
- Do not shout;
- Stand where your face can be seen;
- Ask if a pen and paper would be an easier form of communication;
- Address the individual, not the support person; and
- If the person uses a hearing aid, move to an area with little background noise.
People with Mental Health Disabilities:
Mental health disabilities are not as visible as other disabilities. In most cases, unless one is informed of the disability one may not know the individual suffers from it. Some traits that accompany mental health disability are unclear thought, depression, acute mood changes, poor concentration, difficulty remembering, and lack of motivation.
When dealing with an individual with a mental health disability, remember to be patient, treat them with respect, and try to meet their needs. If an individual with a mental health disability appears to be in a crisis, one should ask how they can help the individual.
Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation
Employees at Heat-Line will communicate effectively with people with disabilities by:
- Considering individual disabilities when communicating;
- Educating all employees about effective ways of communicating with people with disabilities;
- Using appropriate language when referring to people with disabilities and taking action when unacceptable words or gestures are used; and
- Soliciting feedback about our communications from all employees, customers, and suppliers/vendors.
Heat-Line will ensure that there is a process in place to obtain feedback from employees, customers/public, and vendors/suppliers about the services provided by the company to people with disabilities. Heat-Line will respond where reasonably possible to suggestions made.
Feedback reports will be filed in a secured area and will be retained for a minimum of 7 years.
Feedback on services provided to people with disabilities can be provided in the following ways:
- In person
- By telephone
- In writing
- Email to [email protected]
Heat-Line will ensure that employees with a disability are provided with workplace specific emergency response information as soon as is reasonable after it is determined that the employee has a disability.
Supervisors will identify employees with disabilities whose disability may impact their ability to act quickly in a workplace emergency. Employees identified as having a disability shall be provided with workplace specific information regarding emergency response (example: fire, evacuation). If the employee provides consent, Heat-Line will provide information to other employees designated by the company to provide assistance to the employee with the disability. Heat-Line will make every reasonable effort to provide emergency information to employees with disabilities in a format that is accessible to them.
Heat-Line will ensure that training will be provided to all employees in regard to Ontario’s accessibility laws and on the Human Rights Code as it pertains to people with disabilities. Training will be provided in a format that is suitable to all individuals and their abilities. Training records will be maintained by the human resources and maintained in the employee’s file. AODA training will be provided every three years or whenever an employee starts a new position.
Individual accommodation plans for employees with known disabilities will be developed in a clear and consistent way. Accommodation plans are a formal method to record and review the assistance needed to accommodate an employee with a disability. The accommodation plan will be subjects to reviews and updates. All accommodations plans are private information and Heat-Line will protect the privacy of the employees’ personal information.
Heat-Line will make every effort to provide support to individuals with disabilities during performance reviews, job changes, or career development opportunities.
Individual Accommodation Plans will be considered and drafted for employees returning to work with temporary, recurring, and permanent disabilities.