Accessible Service in Sports Venues


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 sports venues, such as arenas and stadiums. In this article, we cover best practices for accessible service in sports venues. In particular, we look at how staff can find ways to make their premises welcoming to fans who need accessible features that a venue does not have yet.

Accessible Service in Sports Venues

Service Animals, Support Persons,  and Assistive Devices

Accessible sports venues must welcome all guests who enter with assistive devices, support persons, or service animals. Service animals are legally permitted in all areas open to the public, including areas where fans buy or consume food. Venues should work with fans who have service animals to book seats with room for the animals. Similarly, if arenas or stadiums choose to waive or reduce fees for support-person tickets, they should advertise this pricing.

Training Staff

Venues must ensure that their staff are trained to interact with fans who have disabilities. Staff should understand how to communicate with fans, both in person and remotely. Additionally, staff should know where all the accessible features of their buildings or outdoor amenities are, including seats offering different kinds of accessibility. For instance, a fan with a visual impairment might want to book a front seat on the left side of the stadium. However, this fan may not be able to access the stadium’s online seating map. In this case, the fan may choose to book by phone so that a staff member can assist them.

Communication Support Awareness

Similarly, staff should know about any communication supports their locations offer. For example, staff should know whether certain games or concerts will be available with:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
  • Closed or open captioning
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Live description

Moreover, staff should know which equipment is used for which service, where it is stored, and how to trouble-shoot when it malfunctions.

If venues cannot offer some or all of these services, staff can still offer fans an accessible experience. For instance, if a venue cannot offer live description for games, it can waive the ticket fee for companions of fans with visual disabilities. A companion can act as a support person and give a verbal play-by-play of the game.

Finally, accessible service in sports venues involves welcoming amateur and professional athletes with disabilities. Arenas and stadiums should seek out and host players and teams with disabilities. Our next set of articles will cover a few sports programs for athletes with disabilities. Programs range from recreational to competitive. Athletes with disabilities participate in summer and winter sports on the local, national, and international levels.



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Accessible Information in Sports Venues


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 features in sports venues, such as arenas and stadiums. This article will cover best practices for providing accessible information in sports venues.

Accessible Information in Sports Venues

Accessible Websites

Fans can use accessible computers or phones to read websites that follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. More fans can find out about venues’ features, events, and services if venues post them on websites that are accessible. For instance, they should post:

  • What games or concerts they will be hosting
  • What accessible structural features they have, and where these features are located
  • Whether they offer any communication supports for games or concerts

Signage

Moreover, signage is also important. Whether signs are large ones outside the venue or small ones on seat numbers, they should:

  • Include detailed information for fans with hearing disabilities
  • Use clear language or pictures for fans with intellectual disabilities
  • Be at eye level for fans at wheelchair and standing heights
  • Have large print and good colour contrast for fans with visual impairments
  • Include Braille for fans who are blind

Communication Supports

Furthermore, sports venues can also offer communication supports to make games or concerts more accessible for fans with sensory disabilities. For instance, when hosting concerts, venues can offer:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
  • closed or open captioning
  • Assistive listening devices

Alternatively, for sports events, venues can offer live description of what is happening on the field, court, or ice.

Moreover, venue websites should explain how to access communication supports. For example:

  • Which performances will be interpreted or captioned
  • Which games will be described
  • Whether fans can request additional interpretation, captioning, or description
  • Where to pick up and return assistive listening devices, closed-captioning mirrors, or description headsets

Accessible information in sports venues ensures that all guests have equal opportunities to access services. Our next article will discuss how sports venues can provide an accessible service experience.



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Providing Accessible Service in Amusement Parks


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.

Structural Features

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.

Staff Assistance

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:

  • Wheelchair
  • Scooter
  • Walker
  • Crutches
  • Cane

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.



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Accessible Information in Amusement Parks


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. In our last article, we outlined features that make amusement parks accessible for guests with disabilities. In this article, we will cover best practices for accessible information in amusement parks.

Accessible Information in Amusement Parks

Accessible Websites

Guests can use accessible computers or phones to read websites that follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Therefore, amusement parks should ensure that their websites follow these guidelines. Moreover, they should post as much information as possible about their features, events, and services on their accessible websites. For instance, they should post:

  • What accessible structural features they have, and where these features are located
  • What attractions are accessible for guests using assistive devices
  • Whether they have a system for guests who cannot wait in line to access attractions
  • If on-site restaurants are accessible
  • Whether they offer any equipment for guests to borrow,  accessible-format information about the park, or communication supports for theatrical attractions

Accessible Formats

Parks should provide print information, like pamphlets or guides, in accessible formats. For instance:

  • Braille
  • Large print
  • Online on accessible websites
  • Accessible Word or html files

Staff should tell every guest about all the formats they have information available in. Parks can have a third party produce hard-copy Braille or large-print documents. For example, parks can provide Braille guides or tactile maps for guests to borrow during their visits. In addition, parks can produce versions of hard-copy text in accessible web formats.

Performances

Furthermore, amusement parks can also make theatrical events, such as movies or live performances, accessible. For instance, parks can offer:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
  • Closed or open captioning
  • Live description

Moreover, park websites should explain how to access features, equipment, or services. For example:

  • Which performances will be ASL interpreted, captioned, or described
  • Where to pick up and return description headsets or closed-captioning mirrors
  • Whether parks can arrange additional interpreted, captioned, or described performances for groups

Accessible information in amusement parks ensures that all guests have equal opportunities to access services. Our next article will discuss how amusement parks can provide an accessible service experience.



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Accessible Information in Offices


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. In our last article, we outlined features that make private offices accessible for clientele with disabilities. In this article, we will cover best practices for accessible information in offices.

Accessible Information in Offices

Accessible Websites

Clients can use accessible computers or phones to read websites that follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Therefore, offices should ensure that their websites follow these guidelines. Moreover, they should post as much information as possible about their features, events, and services on their accessible websites. For instance, they should post:

  • What accessible structural features they have, and where these features are located
  • Processes clients must follow to receive service, such as:
    • What services a facility provides
    • Whether clients should book appointments, and how to do so
    • What documentation clients need to bring with them, or what forms they need to fill in

Accessible Formats

Offices should also provide print information, like forms or pamphlets, in accessible formats. For instance:

  • Braille
  • Large print
  • Online on accessible websites
  • Accessible Word or HTML files

Staff should tell every client about all the formats they have information available in.

Offices can create their own hard-copy large-print or Braille if they have photo-copiers or Braille embossers. Alternatively, they can have a third party produce hard-copy Braille or large-print documents. In addition, offices can produce versions of hard-copy content in accessible web formats.

Communication Supports

Likewise, offices should be prepared to work with clients who use communication supports during appointments or other interactions with staff. For instance, clients may need:

  • Sign language interpretation
  • Communication devices, such as assistive listening devices or communication boards
  • Plain-language versions of documents

Moreover, offices should make clients aware that communication supports are available on-site or can be arranged. For example, offices can advertise where clients can find plain-language information and specify how far in advance clients should arrange Sign language interpretation. In addition, offices should be prepared to work with clients who communicate in various ways, such as by speechreading or through a support person.

Accessible information in offices ensures that all clients have equal opportunities to access services. Our next article will discuss how offices can provide an accessible service experience.



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Office Accessibility


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. This article will outline accessible features in offices where clients come to do business. Office accessibility ensures that clients of all abilities can access the services they need.

Office Accessibility

Offices can welcome clients with assistive devices, like wheelchairs and scooters, when they have accessible structural features. For instance, some accessible features are:

  • Accessible Parking
  • Ramped or level entrances
  • Automatic doors and wide doorways
  • Lifts or elevators whenever there are stairs
  • Accessible public washrooms
  • Wide aisles and paths of travel
  • Service counters that accommodate clients using mobility devices

Other features can also help offices become more accessible. For instance, good lighting will help clients who are Deaf communicate visually. Lighting is also important for clients who are visually impaired. Likewise, clients with invisible physical disabilities who cannot stand during discussions with front-desk staff may need seating near counters. Staff may need to direct clients to this seating and alert them when it is their turn to be served.

Signage

Moreover, signage is also important, especially in large office buildings where different companies share space. Signs should:

  • Include detailed information for clients with hearing disabilities
  • Use clear language or pictures for clients with intellectual disabilities
  • Be at eye level for clients at wheelchair and standing heights
  • Have large print and good colour contrast for clients with visual impairments
  • Include Braille for clients who are blind

In addition, room names or numbers in Braille and large print will allow more clients to navigate buildings independently.

Contact Information

Finally, offices should provide multiple contact methods for clients to get in touch with them, including:

  • Phone and teletypewriter (TTY) numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Accessible websites, including contact forms and ways to book appointments online

Office accessibility includes providing information in ways that are inclusive for all clients. In our next article, we will cover accessible information in offices.



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Providing Accessible Hotel Service


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 features of accessible hotel rooms. In this article, we cover what staff can do to create an accessible hotel service experience for guests. In particular, we look at how staff can find ways to make their premises welcoming to guests who need accessible features that a hotel does not have yet.

Providing Accessible Hotel Service

Welcoming Guests

Hotels must welcome all guests who enter with assistive devices, service animals, or support persons. Service animals are legally permitted in hotels, including in dining rooms. Staff should alert guests to the locations of all nearby service animal relief areas. Moreover, hotels can choose to waive or reduce fees for support persons’ rooms. Hotels offering this service should advertise how much they will charge or what their policies are. However, hotels should not require that a guest has a support person with them.

Staff Assistance

Hotels must train their staff to interact with guests who have disabilities. Staff should understand how to communicate with guests, both in person and remotely. Training should also show staff how to help guests access their services if their buildings lack the features those guests need.

Booking Stays

When guests book stays, staff should ask them if they have any accessibility needs. Moreover, staff should know about all the accessible features their hotels offer. For instance, staff should be able to tell future guests:

  • Which rooms are barrier-free
  • Whether any non-barrier-free rooms have some built-in accessible features, and which rooms have which features
  • Whether they have other accessibility devices for guests to use in their rooms, such as:
    • Visual alarms or bed shakers
    • Teletypewriters (TTYs) or phone amplifiers
    • Door knockers
    • Bed rails
    • Bath benches
    • Raised toilet seats

Hotel staff should make sure that all guests can take advantage of any discounts they offer. For example, a hotel might offer a discount if guests book online. This discount could exclude guests who find the hotel’s check-out page inaccessible. The hotel should work on making its website fully compliant with web content accessibility guidelines. In the meantime, staff should apply the online discount to bookings the guest makes in a different way, such as by phone or email.

Other Features

Staff providing accessible hotel service should also know:

  • Where accessible parking, entrances, elevators, and public washrooms are
  • Whether pool, fitness, or change areas are accessible
  • Whether on-site restaurants have accessible seating

If hotels do not have accessible restaurants, pools, or fitness areas, staff should know whether there are near-by organizations that can serve guests who need them.

In addition, staff of hotel chains should be able to find out quickly whether there are other locations nearby that have the features a guest needs, in case the guest would prefer to stay there. For example, staff should know whether their hotel is affiliated with another hotel in town that has beds at wheelchair height or detailed layout descriptions. However, guests may still want or need to receive service at the less accessible location, so staff should be prepared to meet the guest’s needs.

Accessible Format Awareness

Similarly, staff should know whether their hotels have information in accessible formats. When hotels offer accessible versions of hard-copy print, their staff need to be aware of:

  • What information is available in what format(s)
  • where hard copies are kept
  • Whether another location has hard-copy Braille or large print
  • how guests can find web versions
  • whether alternate-format versions are up-to-date

If there are differences between the current printed version of a document and the version a guest can read, staff should know what the differences are. For example, managers can keep a printed list of the differences clipped to the Braille version of a document. Staff can then remind themselves of what the differences are while they carry the document to the guest. They should then go through these differences with the guest.

If accessible-format information is not available, staff should be prepared to provide this information in person. For instance, if hotels do not have Braille room numbers, staff may need to show a Braille-reading guest where their room is and describe in detail where other parts of the hotel are. Similarly, staff may need to show guests which buttons are which on devices like temperature controls or TV remotes. Likewise, staff should read other print information, like restaurant menus or pamphlets describing local attractions, aloud to guests upon request.

Accessible hotel service ensures that all guests have a pleasant experience. For many guests with disabilities, excellent service is as memorable as great views or nearby attractions. Guests will want to come back to hotels that treat them with dignity.



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Accessible Hotel Rooms for Guests with Various Disabilities


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 features in hotels. In this article, we cover accessible hotel rooms for guests with various disabilities.

Accessible Hotel Rooms

Under the Ontario Building Code, at least ten percent (10%) of hotel rooms must be barrier-free for guests with physical disabilities. A hotel is not required to provide more than twenty (20) barrier-free rooms, although hotels may provide more if they wish. When possible, every floor with elevator access should have some barrier-free rooms on it.

What is a barrier-free hotel room?

In a barrier-free hotel room, a guest using an assistive device, like a wheelchair or scooter, must be able to reach everything in the room. In other words, there are barrier-free paths of travel to every part of the room. Balconies in accessible rooms must also be barrier-free.

Doors and Switches

Guests must be able to open their room doors independently. They must also be able to use any control switches for features like lights or thermostats. Guests must be able to reach these features from a wheelchair or scooter and operate them with a closed fist. The Ontario Building Code details precise guidelines, including measurements, for all of these features. If an accessible room adjoins to a non-accessible room, these guidelines also apply to the door between the rooms.

Bathrooms

The bathrooms in barrier-free rooms must also be barrier-free. There must be space for guests in mobility devices to turn around, including when the bathroom door is open. Furthermore, sinks, toilets, and tubs or showers must also be accessible. The Ontario Building Code provides further guidelines for accessible bathrooms, including details about different types of bathroom fixtures.

Beds

Beds in barrier-free hotel rooms should be at a height convenient for a guest to transfer into from a wheelchair or scooter.

More Ways to Make Rooms Accessible

Some guests may not need a barrier-free room but may still need some accessible features or devices. Many of these features or devices are moveable, so that they can be installed in a guest’s room for their stay and then removed. For example, a guest who is deaf or hard of hearing might request:

  • A visual alarm or bed shaker
  • A teletypewriter (TTY) or phone amplifier
  • A door knocker

A guest with a physical disability might use:

  • Bed rails
  • A bath bench
  • A raised toilet seat

Accessible hotel rooms make overnight travel possible for everyone. Our next article will cover what staff can do to create an accessible service experience for guests.



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Making Guests of All Abilities Comfortable


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. This article will outline accessible customer service for hotels. Accessible hotels include features that ensure guests of all abilities have a comfortable stay.

Accessible Hotels

Hotels can welcome travellers with assistive devices, like wheelchairs and scooters, when they have accessible structural features. For instance, accessible hotels should have: 

  • Accessible Parking
  • Ramped or level entrances
  • Automatic doors and wide doorways
  • Lifts or elevators whenever there are stairs
  • Accessible public washrooms
  • Wide aisles and paths of travel
  • Visual fire alarms
  • Braille and large print room numbers
  • Accessible pools, change rooms, and fitness equipment
  • Service counters and line areas that accommodate customers using mobility devices

Other features can help hotels become more accessible. For instance, good lighting will help guests who are Deaf communicate visually. Lighting is also important for guests who are visually impaired. Moreover, additional seating may benefit guests with invisible physical disabilities who cannot stand while checking in or waiting for service in the lobby.

Furthermore, hotel restaurants should make their menus and services accessible to all guests.

Accessible Formats

Hotels should also provide print information in accessible formats. For instance, some of the information guests might want to read includes:

  • Room service menus
  • Operation instructions for:
    • In-room phones or TVs
    • Connecting to wifi
    • Other devices on-site, such as fitness equipment and laundry facilities
  • Emergency evacuation procedures

Formats guests might read include:

  • Braille
  • Large print
  • Online on accessible websites
  • Accessible Word or HTML files

Staff should tell every guest about all the formats they have information available in. 

Hotels can have a third party produce hard-copy Braille or large-print documents. In addition, hotels can produce versions of hard-copy content in accessible web formats. If websites follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, guests can read them using accessible computers or phones.

Equipment

Hotels with meeting or conference rooms should have assistive listening systems that guests can request to borrow. Hotels should also have wheelchairs available on loan for guests who need them.

Emergencies

Hotels should have policies describing how they will arrange to accommodate guests who need assistance evacuating during emergencies.

Contact Information

Finally, hotels should provide multiple contact methods for guests to get in touch with them, including:

  • Phone and teletypewriter (TTY) numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Accessible websites, including contact forms and methods for booking stays

In addition, hotel websites should provide detailed descriptions and pictures of all their amenities and accessible features. These details will help potential guests find out if a hotel has the features they need or want.

Some of the guests who need accessible hotel features will also need rooms they can use. Our next article will cover features of accessible rooms.



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How to Provide Accessible Library Service


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 features in libraries. In this article, we cover what staff can do to create an accessible library service experience for patrons. In particular, we look at how staff can find ways to make their premises welcoming to patrons who need accessible features that a library does not have yet.

How to Provide Accessible Library Service

When librarians plan to buy new books or subscribe to new publications, they should try to find alternate-format versions of the print or visual materials they are selecting. Moreover, when librarians are choosing online resources to subscribe to or partner with, they should look into whether these websites comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. They should try to develop relationships with online publications that share their commitments to service for all patrons.

Welcoming Patrons

Libraries must welcome all patrons who enter with assistive devices, service animals, or support persons.

Training Staff

Libraries must ensure that their staff are trained to interact with patrons who have disabilities. Staff should understand how to communicate with patrons, both in person and remotely. In addition, staff should know where accessible content is shelved as well as how patrons can access library materials in alternative ways, such as through the library website, from other branches, and from the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) or the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS)

Staff should also know how their libraries’ accessible computer equipment works. This knowledge allows them to help first-time patrons learn the basics or troubleshoot if computers malfunction.

In addition, staff should know how to provide a welcoming experience for patrons if their branches are lacking certain structural features. For instance, staff should:

  • Retrieve resources from inaccessible sections or floors upon request
  • Know where the nearest accessible washrooms are
  • Offer remote service for patrons who cannot enter the space

Staff should make the public aware that they have these or other accessible library services. When they do so, more people can be patrons of libraries that value them as clients.



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