Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined accessible information in amusement parks. In this article, we cover best practices for accessible service in amusement parks. In particular, we look at how staff can find ways to make their premises welcoming to clients who need accessible features that an amusement park does not have yet.
Providing Accessible Service in Amusement Parks
Service Animals, Support Persons, and Assistive Devices
Parks must welcome all guests who enter with assistive devices, support persons, or service animals. If parks choose to waive or reduce fees for support-person tickets, they should advertise this pricing. Service animals are legally permitted in all areas open to the public, including dining areas. Park staff and websites should alert guests to the locations of all nearby service animal relief areas.
If parks have any accessible structural features, staff should know what and where they are. For example, staff should know where guests can find accessible parking, entrances, and washrooms.
Furthermore, parks must train their staff to interact with guests who have disabilities. Training should show staff how to help guests access their services if their grounds or buildings lack the features those guests need. Staff should understand how to communicate with guests, both in person and remotely.
In addition, staff members should be available to greet guests and ask if they need any assistance. In this way, they can make guests aware that they are willing to provide services if their parks lack certain amenities. For instance, if guests cannot read signs, staff should be able to direct them to the areas or attractions they want to reach.
Similarly, staff should know which kinds of assistive devices guests can bring with them on rides. For example, staff should know whether a guest can ride with their own:
If a guest cannot ride with their own device, staff should know whether a guest can:
- Approach the ride with the device but ride without it
- Transfer from large devices into on-site devices or ride seats
Staff should also return riders’ devices to them as soon as possible. For instance, riders who entered a ride using a device may need to have the device back in order to exit the ride. Some guests might bring a support person to help them perform any or all of these tasks. However, parks should not require that a guest has a support person with them.
Accessible Format Awareness
When parks offer accessible versions of hard-copy print, such as pamphlets, guides, maps, or other documents, staff need to be aware of:
- What information is available in what format(s)
- Where hard copies are kept
- Whether hard-copy Braille or large print versions can be created upon request
- How clients can find web versions
- Whether alternate-format versions are up-to-date
Staff should know the differences between a current printed version of a document and the version a guest can read. For example, staff can keep a printed list of the differences clipped to the Braille version of a document. They can then let the guest know what the differences are.
If a document is not available in any of the formats a guest can use, staff should read the document to the guest. If it is a form, staff should fill it in according to the guest’s directions.
Communication Support Awareness
Similarly, when parks provide communication supports for performances or other interactions, staff should know:
- What supports are available for what kinds of interaction
- Where on-site communication devices are stored, and best practices for serving guests using them
- Whether plain-language versions of documents are available and how to access them
- How to arrange Sign language interpretation
- How far in advance arrangements should be made
Accessible service in amusement parks ensures that all guests can have fun with their families and friends.