Gilmour Psychological Services®
Compliance with Ontario’s
Accessibility Standards for Customer Service
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) came into force on January 1, 2008. Regulation 429/07 applied to all government and public organizations, effective January 1, 2010. For other private organizations, including all businesses and professional health services offices, compliance is demanded by June 1, 2012.
Purpose of AODA
The purpose of AODA is to benefit all Ontarians by:
- developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for disabled Ontarians with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises; and,
- providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, of the Government and Ontario and of representatives of various sectors of business and the economy in the development of accessibility standards. As such, the notions about accessibility will continue to evolve with input from all sectors.
Intent of this Document
The following document will review the requirements of Regulation 429/07 of AODA as it applies to Gilmour Psychological Services® (GPS), and how GPS is already or can become compliant with the applicable parts of the regulation.
According to the Regulation all providers of health care services must:
- Establish policies, practices and procedure on providing goods or services to people with disabilities.
- Use reasonable efforts to ensure that their policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the core principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality of opportunity. This requirement fits well with the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists, and is standard practice for GPS psychologists in our treatment of clients.
- Set a policy on allowing people to use their personal assistive devices to access and use our services. This document, as accepted by the partners and ratified by our group of psychologists constitutes a policy statement in compliance with the Act.
- Allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by their guide dog or service animal in those areas of our premises that are open to the public. At GPS we have a history of permitting and even encouraging clients to bring their animals to their sessions. The only areas off limits to our clients and their animals are our secretaries’ area and our roof top terrace.
- Permit people with disabilities who use a support person to bring that person with them while accessing our services in premises open to the public. At GPS we have permitted support persons, including sign language and other translators, but require that, if the support people attend a session, they sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure the confidentiality of the material and topics discussed in session.
- We do not charge extra for the presence of the support person unless the session involves some form of conflict resolution that involves the support person and the client.
- Provide notice when the facilities or services that people with disabilities rely on to access our services are temporality disrupted. At GPS we and our landlord will post signs when our clients must access the building by the back door rather than the front door. Upon arrival, if a client requires assistance getting to their psychologist’s office, either the psychologist or our secretaries can meet them to help them go upstairs.
- Train staff, volunteers, contractors and any other people who interact with the public on our behalf on the topics herein and the importance of facilitating the accessibility of persons with disabilities. While it is not usually the case that there would be non-treatment or non-administration staff interacting with the public, we will advise any other staff (such as our cleaning staff) of our policy.
- Train staff and others involved in developing our policies on accessibility in what the law requires. This document is part of that training. Discussions about accessibility issues will also be held in our general meetings biannually.
- Establish a process for people to provide feedback on how we provide our services to people with disabilities and how we respond to such feedback and take action on any complaints. Make the information about our feedback process readily available to the public. Clients may discuss their accessibility needs with their psychologist or our secretaries at any time before or after they have been seen at GPS.
The specific requirements of this regulation to the Act tell us what the health service provider must do (the end goal of accessibility in all its aspects) but does not mandate how to go about achieving the end goals. Policies define what we intend to do, including the rules. Procedures explain how we will go about it. Practices describe what we actually do on a day-to-day basis, including how we actually offer our services. The Act does not specify how the organization must make their services accessible, but leaves that up to the provider. For example, it does not specify that providers must make their premises wheelchair accessible. There may be a range of other ways to make services available, such as home visits, arranging to use another place to meet, or even referring to another psychologist who is working in a building with an elevator.
Day-to-Day Practice and The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
When a client has a hearing impairment and cannot use the telephone, we have and will continue to arrange to communicate about setting up appointments with him or her by email, and then included a support person in the session. We have had blind clients who have brought their guide dog with them. Walkers, white canes, note taking devices, recording devices, and personal oxygen tanks are all welcome at GPS. Although the law requires us to accept a support person only when that support person is necessary or essential to protect the health and safety of the client and the risk cannot be reduced by any other means, GPS has a tradition of being open to clients bringing support people in less stringent conditions (provided that the support person signs a confidentiality agreement and does not intrude into or unduly influence the process with the client).
We respect the dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity of disabled clients. We never assume that a client cannot do something for him or herself, and we ask before assisting, and in what manner our assistance would be welcomed.
Communication is the process of providing, sending, receiving and understanding information. The regulation requires that we communicate with an individual with a disability in a way that takes the person’s disability into account. This also means that we consider how the disability affects the way that the person expresses, receives or processes communications. This also means that we do not make assumptions based on the individual’s disability. Someone with a similar disability to another person may, if fact, process information more or less effectively. This is a principle that psychologists understand very well. We are very knowledgeable about communicating and insuring the other person understands, because we frequently deal with that issue in obtaining informed consent to our various interventions. Also, we are fully aware that within a diagnostic category each individual can have very different capabilities and that a diagnosis does not, in itself, tell us what the person is capable of doing or not doing. Our psychologists are experts in asking clients how he or she can be accommodated and what alternative methods of service provision would be more accessible.
All staff will obtain training on the information in this document at our business meetings biannually. Also, this document will be circulated to all staff, and will be available for all clients in the waiting rooms and on the GPS website.
If you have comments about the information above
Our clients may give us feedback in person, by telephone, in writing, by email or diskette or by texting, if the psychologist or administration has texting capability. We will respond to the feedback promptly and try to facilitate the individual to access services or by referring the client to a psychologist elsewhere, but convenient to the client, so that the client may be accommodated. When responding to the client we do and will continue to take into account the client’s disability.