The Town of Milton is committed to delivering exemplary customer service. In our organization, we know that providing excellent customer service is everyone’s responsibility. It is a key focus for our organization and it is the right thing to do. That is why we are committed to ensuring that we comply with Provincial standards to provide accessible customer service to all of our customers, including those with a disability.

Part 1: Accessible Customer Service Standards

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) was passed by Ontario legislature with the goal of creating standards to improve accessibility across the province in five areas:

  • Customer service
  • Information and communication
  • Transportation
  • Employment
  • Built environment

The Accessibility Standards for Customer Service is the first of the five standards which, for the broader public sector, will take effect on Jan. 1, 2010. Private sector entities must comply by Jan. 1, 2012. This standard details specific requirements for all service providers, including municipalities.

The following is a summary of the key requirements of the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service:

  1. Establish policies, practices, and procedures for providing goods or services to people with disabilities.
  2. Communicate with a person with a disability in a way that takes their disability into account.
  3. Set a policy on the use of assistive devices by persons with disabilities to access goods and services.
  4. 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, unless the animal is excluded by law.
  5. Permit people with disabilities who use a support person to bring that person with them while accessing goods or services in premises open to the public or third parties.
  6. Ensure that staff, volunteers, contractors and any other people who interact with the public or other third parties on the organization’s behalf are trained on a number of topics outlined in the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service.
  7. Establish a process for people to provide feedback on the provision of goods or services to people with disabilities. The process must outline how the feedback will be responded to. 8. Provide notice when facilities or services that people with disabilities rely on are unavailable. This book is a reference guide for contractors to the Town of Milton. 

Part 2: What do we mean when we say “Disability”?

Disabilities come in many different forms, sometimes obvious and sometimes not. A “disability” as defined by the AODA includes:

  • Any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes, mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device
  • A condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability
  •  A learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken languages
  • A mental disorder
  • An injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997. 

Part 3: What is accessible customer service?

Accessible customer service encompasses a variety of elements. The Town of Milton is committed to providing customer service to persons with disabilities in a manner that:

  • Respects their dignity and independence
  • Is integrated as fully as possible into the method of service delivery
  • Ensures reasonable efforts are made to provide an opportunity equal to that offered to other customers to obtain and use our goods and services
  • Allows persons with disabilities to benefit from the same services, in the same place, and in a similar way as other customers; in other words, an equality of outcome
  • Is sensitive to an individual’s needs
  • Is responsive by delivering service in a timely manner, considering the nature of the service and the specific accommodation required Accessible customer service can mean many different things. Mostly, it is the understanding that each individual may need a slightly different type of accommodation for the service we provide. Some examples of this include:
    • A person who is blind may need to have information read aloud to them
    • An individual with a learning disability may need to have instructions written down
    • Someone who uses a wheelchair may need help in finding an accessible route Accessible customer service is good customer service – courteous, helpful and prompt.

Part 4: How should I interact with persons with disabilities who use assistive devices, or have the assistance of a service animal or a support person?

Always start your interaction with the words: “How may I help you?” Listen for the response. Accommodate as best you can. 

Assistive devices

Devices that people may bring with them or that are already on the premises and are used to assist persons with disabilities in carrying out activities or in accessing the services.

Include, but are not limited to wheelchairs, walkers, white canes used by people who are blind or who have low vision, notetaking devices, portable magnifiers, recording machines, assistive listening devices, personal oxygen tanks and devices for grasping.


  • Ensure that the customer is permitted to enter the premises with the assistive device and to utilize the device unless excluded by law.
  • Remove potential barriers to the use of assistive devices where possible.
  • Offer assistive devices in a manner that respects the person’s dignity and independence.
  • Ensure persons with disabilities are aware of assistive devices available on the provider’s premises or otherwise supplied by the provider.


  • Lean on or reach over a customer or their device.

Service animal (may not necessarily be a guide dog)

Persons with disabilities are permitted to be accompanied by their service animal and keep that animal with them in areas that are open to the public, when accessing goods and services provided by the Town of Milton, unless otherwise prohibited by law.


  • Allow service animals anywhere customers normally have access.
  • Permit the customer to keep the service animal with him or her, unless the animal is otherwise excluded by law from the premises i.e. areas where food is prepared. They are permitted access to dining or food ordering areas.
  • Leave the care and supervision of the service animal with the customer.


  • Talk to, touch or make eye contact with the service animal.

Support persons

Those who accompany a person with a disability to help them with communication, mobility, personal care, medical needs or with access to goods or services.


  • Permit the customers and their support person to enter the premises together.
  • Provide the person with a disability access to their support person while on the premises.
  • Obtain consent from the customer, if confidential information will be shared when a support person is present.
  • Speak directly to your customer, not to the support person, unless asked to do so by the customer. 

Part 5: How can I provide excellent service to customers with disabilities? 

Always start with person-first language, which means saying “person with a disability” rather than “a disabled person”. In any interaction, it means addressing the person’s service needs, rather than focusing on the disability.

Most importantly, if you are nervous, relax! People with disabilities are generally aware they may need some accommodations and will work with you: just remember to ask “how may I help you?”. 

Deaf-blind disability

  • Cannot see or hear to some degree
  • Many will be accompanied by a support person to help them communicate

Tips for serving customers

  • Identify yourself to the support person
  • Speak directly to your customer, not the support person
  • The customer may explain how you should communicate with them

Deaf or hard of hearing

Deaf: severe to profound hearing loss.

Hard of hearing: a person who uses their residual hearing and speech to communicate (may wear a hearing aide).

Deafened: caused to hear poorly or not at all.

Tips for serving customers

  • Attract the customer’s attention before speaking by waving your hand and saying “hello”
  • Look directly at the person
  • Use pen and paper to communicate, if necessary
  • Speak clearly, keep your hands away from your face
  • Reduce background noise
  • Ensure appropriate lighting

Intellectual or developmental disabilities 

  • Can mildly or profoundly limit ability to learn, communicate, do everyday activities and live independently
  • May be an invisible disability 

Tips for serving customers

  • Don’t assume what the customer can and cannot do
  • Use plain language
  • Take your time, be patient
  • After assisting, ask “Do you require additional information?”
  • Provide one piece of information at a time – step-by-step instruction
  • Offer information in simple concepts

Learning disabilities

Affects how a person acquires, interprets, retains or takes in information. 

May affect:

  • language based learning
  • mathematics
  • writing, fine motor skills

Tips for serving customers

  • Take some time, be patient
  • Demonstrate a willingness to assist
  • Speak normally, clearly and directly to your customer
  • Provide information in a way that works for your customer (e.g. pen and paper)
  • Be prepared to explain any materials you provide 

Mental health disabilities

Mental illness is not a single disease but a broad classification for many disorders, including:

  • Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, which affect how one feels
  • Schizophrenia, which affects how one perceives the world
  • Anxiety disorders which affect how fearful one perceives places, events or situations to be
  • Personality disorders, which affect how one sees oneself in relation to others
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, which influence how one feels about food and one’s body image

Tips for serving customers

  • Don’t make assumptions about a person’s abilities. Ask how you may help
  • Be confident and reassuring
  • Be patient
  • If the customer is in crisis, ask how best to help
  • Take your customer seriously 

Physical or disabilities affecting mobility

May restrict a person in the following ways:

  • Control or speed of movements
  • Co-ordination and balance
  • Ability to grasp some objects
  • Ability to sit or stand for prolonged periods

Can be present at birth, result from disease, injury or be temporary 

Tips for serving customers

  • Speak directly to the customer
  • Ask before you help
  • Respect personal space
  • Don’t move any items the customer may have
  • Describe what you are going to do beforehand
  • Don’t leave your customer in an awkward, dangerous or undignified position 

Speech or language disabilities

  • May have problems communicating
  • May have difficulty pronouncing words, may slur or stutter
  • May use communication boards or other assistive devices 

Tips for serving customers

  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Give them time to get their point across – be patient
  • Ask questions that can be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’, if possible
  • Don’t interrupt or finish your customer’s sentences
  • You may want to use pen and paper
  • Say: “I don’t understand, can you repeat the question?” 

Vision disabilities

  • Most individuals who are legally blind have some remaining vision – very few are totally blind
  • Visual impairments can restrict ability to read signs, locate landmarks, or see hazards
  • May use guide dog or white cane
  • May need to view written documents in large print or use a magnifier 

Tips for serving customers

  • Don’t assume the customer can’t see you
  • Speak directly to the customer
  • Offer your elbow to guide – if they accept, walk slowly
  • Identify landmarks along the route, and push chairs and light obstacles away
  • Be precise and descriptive with information
  • Don’t leave the customer without advising them that you are leaving them 

Part 6: What happens if for some reason we can’t serve a person with a disability?

It is possible that from time to time there will be disruptions in service, such as elevators under repair, renovations that limit access to an area or technology that is temporarily unavailable. If a disruption in service is planned, and expected, it is important to provide reasonable notice.

Customers with disabilities may go to a lot of trouble to access services such as booking specialized transit or arranging for their support person to attend. By providing reasonable notice of service unavailability, you can save the customer an unnecessary trip. Notice can be provided by several methods, such as on the Region’s website, by telephone or in writing.

In the event of an unexpected disruption in service, provide notice quickly and in as many ways as possible. Contact the person who has contracted you for the goals/services.

Additional help is available

It is important to recognize that there are internal and external resources available to assist you in delivering service to persons with disabilities. Please contact the person who has contracted you for the goods/services.

Vendor training registration

Thank you for taking the time to review this important information to help you serve customers with disabilities. Your effort will help us serve all of our customers and will help build trust and confidence in our organization.  Successful bidders must ensure that their employees review this training material. 

Vendors please indicate your compliance by submitting your Accessible Customer Service Training Acknowledgement.