Research indicates Ontarians have low awareness of new accessible customer
service law

TORONTO, May 31 /CNW/ - A new study conducted by IPSOS REID two weeks ago reveals that people in Ontario are relatively unaware of the sweeping legislative changes recently passed into law under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (A.O.D.A.).

    
    According to the IPSOS REID Canadian Online Omni May 10 to 17:

    -  68% of Ontarians polled were either not very aware, or had never heard
       of this new legislation
    -  88% think business and organizations will have to change significantly
       in the delivery of their services to appropriately serve customers
       with various disabilities
    

The study was undertaken by Accessibility Experts Ltd., to measure awareness on this new legislation. "We felt we needed to take a statistically sound reading on public awareness of the new accessibility law, as we prepare for the increased demand for our customer service training" says Sarah White, co-founder of Accessibility Experts Ltd - a company that helps organizations understand what A.O.D.A. requires of them, and provides the training, tools and support they will need to successfully develop internal policies and procedures to comply with the requirements outlined in the new accessibility law.

"The figures are rather staggering, when you consider that this new legislation is transforming the way we all conduct customer service in this province. We would have thought at this point that at least half of Ontarians would be familiar with this new standard in customer service; after all, we all know someone who has some sort of a disability, and we all will have a role to play in reducing barriers and improving access for them."

For many years now, people have been very aware of improving access and reducing barriers for persons with physical limitations. But, this new legislation is radically different, in that it requires all private and public organizations in this province to be able to serve their customers in a manner that considers ANY disability a person may have - visible or non-visible - be it physical, hearing, sight, cognitive, intellectual or any other. Public institutions had until this past March; when they had to report to the provincial government on their compliance activities on the first phase of this new standard. Businesses and not-for-profits in Ontario will have a little over a year and a half before they too must comply and report in 2012.

"It's clear, and it's here". says Ms. White. "There's a completely new level of inclusive customer service rolling out, that will replace current standards and truly revolutionize the way we anticipate, and serve, the needs of our customers in this province. This most certainly will be a consideration for companies as they undertake their budgets for 2011".

She continues - "As we interact with institutions and business leaders across Ontario, we consistently witness the fact that there is very little awareness of this new law among those who provide products and services and among consumers. That's where we come in." states Ms. White. "We help organizations to successfully deliver a new standard of customer service that has never before been upheld by the government. Believe me, this is on the minds of many CEOs these days, since organizations can be penalized if they are found guilty of an offence under this act; a fine of $100,000 per day for the organization, plus up to $50,000 per Director per day if found liable on conviction."

AE will be keeping their finger on the pulse of this issue in the coming months, Ms White indicated; a follow-up survey already is planned for the spring of 2011. To find out what organizations will need to do to prepare for this legislation, visit www.accessibilityexperts.ca. For more information on the new customer service laws visit http://www.search.e-laws.gov.on.ca.

SOURCE ACCESSIBILITY EXPERTS LTD.

For further information: For further information: on details of the IPSO study, the AODA, or Accessibility Experts Ltd., contact Susan Rawlinson at (905) 725-1499

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ACCESSIBILITY EXPERTS LTD.

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