Frequently Asked Questions
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act isn't new. Why are we talking about this now?
The AODA came into effect in 2005 but the requirements of the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service are new. The first of the Accessibility Standards -Customer Service- came into effect in January 2008 and School Boards are required to comply by January 2010. Four other standards will become regulation in the near future as described in the training video.
We have some buildings that we can not make accessible by January 2010, there just isn't enough funding. What are we to do?
The Customer Service Standard is not about the built environment. The Customer Service Standard is designed to facilitate the full participation of all Ontarians to access goods and services through quality customer service.
Our School Board has been submitting an Annual Accessibility Plan under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001. What happens to that process?
For the moment, Schools Boards continue to have the requirement to submit those plans. There may be changes in the future. For now, the plans remain a good way to lay a foundation for complying with the upcoming standards.
We already have policies and procedures to deal with our special education students. Why are we required to do more?
The customer service standard sets out standards for dealing with members of the general public who have disabilities. School Boards have a high duty of care as related to students and staff as well. School Board policies reflect the duty of care and as such may go beyond the policies required under this Act.
We have our policies and procedures in place, so now who needs to be trained?
The regulation calls for all employees who may have contact with the general public to receive training or who are involved in the development of policy to receive training. Training is not required on an annual basis. One time training only is required by the legislation. In a School Board, this could be anyone. However, the training of employees such as secretaries, receptionists and of course, the principals would be a first priority for training due to the nature of their positions in dealing with members of the general public. Other employee groups could follow. Training may be done in groups or by individuals at their desktops. School Boards will need to track the number of employees who participate and provide training for new employees.
Do volunteers need training?
In most cases, volunteers don't represent the School Board in receiving members of the general public. However, imagine a scenario where the School Council is welcoming parents, as a recruitment drive, in the school foyer and directing the public to locations in the school for parent-teacher interviews. In such a case, it would be appropriate to train using this learning module those volunteers.
There is a procedure for the use of support persons. Does this refer to special education assistants?
The exemplar policy and procedure from OESC-CSEO outlines clearly that the procedure refers to support persons who are not employed by the Board.
Do we have to provide assistive devices to the general public?
No, the regulation requires us to facilitate an individual using their own assistive device. However, it is a requirement to make the general public aware of devices available to them such as TTY. This could be done through the website.
What are multiple formats?
The range of multiple or alternate formats is long and expands as technology improves. We are largely referring to formats such as print, e-mail, audio, reading out-loud, large font size and many others.
How do we balance someone who is allergic to dogs and the need for a person to have a service dog?
The law requires that a person who needs a service animal be permitted to have the service animal with them in any part of the building open to the general public. Discussion and alternative solutions will need to take place but a person with a disability has a right to use the service animal.
There are times when it appears that a dog is a pet not a service animal, what should happen in this case?
The regulation covers service animals; they are working animals not pets. If it is not readily apparent that the animal is performing a service for the person with a disability, a letter from a doctor or nurse may be required to be produced. If such a letter is produced the animal should be permitted in areas of the building that are open to the general public; this does not necessarily include a classroom unless the classroom is open to the public for an event. And remember, the regulation refers to the general public. The School Board may have another policy or procedure to address the use of a service animal by a student or by a staff member.
If a support person accompanies a parent what happens to the confidentiality provisions relating to student information?
Information is still confidential and is disclosed to the parent. The support person is an extension of the parent.s participation. The best way to convey this message is to require the support person to sign an Oath of Confidentiality. This will give you an opportunity to clarify.