Starting this month, U of G will be providing orientation to employees on the new standards established by the Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA). The orientation sessions are a required part of an AODA regulation known as the “customer service standard,” says Pat Case, director of U of G’s Human Rights and Equity Office (HREO).
“The University is committed to ensuring that its services and facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities, so that they have the same opportunities and benefits as others,” says Case.
“We do this in an active systematic way that involves considering accommodation at the outset and ensuring equal participation for all, whether it’s access to a building or to a specific course.”
Orientation will be provided both online and in person for employees who provide the types of services covered by the act, he says. This includes people working in service areas such as Campus Community Police, the Centre for Students With Disabilities, Physical Resources and Hospitality Services. People identified for orientation will be notified through email or through their managers and supervisors.
The majority of U of G employees will be invited to participate in the online orientation course, which they can complete during work hours at times that are operationally feasible, says Case. Others such as front-line employees will be offered face-to-face orientation sessions.
The University is also creating support teams to provide continuing help to faculty and staff in implementing the accessibility provisions, he says.
In addition to orientation sessions, U of G will be reviewing relevant policies, practices and procedures to ensure they don’t create or foster barriers for people with disabilities, says Case. The review will be done in phases and will start as a pilot project in two selected areas — Student Housing Services and the University Secretariat.
“Once we’ve completed the pilot, a strategy for the implementation of the review in other areas providing services, education and research will be developed in consultation with senior managers.”
HREO has created a brochure that includes tips on providing services for people with disabilities, says Case. The brochure will be distributed around campus and will also be available through the University accessibility website at www.uoguelph.ca/accessibility.
Approved in 2005, the AODA established regulations for meeting the needs of people with disabilities. Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to develop, implement and enforce mandatory accessibility standards. As part of the act, workplaces must orient employees to ensure the provision of accessible services and facilities.