Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, Recruitment and Employment Policy

1.0    PHILOSOPHY

As an organization, Alterna respects and upholds the principles espoused by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) to minimize barriers that may impede our members, clients, employees, and the public from accessing our products, services, and facilities in a manner that best suits their needs.

2.0    SCOPE

This Policy applies to all employees of Alterna Savings and Alterna Bank who share an obligation to provide Alterna products, services and facilities to persons with disabilities in a manner consistent with requirements set out in the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service – Ontario Regulation 429/07 and Integrated Accessibility Standards – Ontario Regulation 191/11.

3.0    PURPOSE OF THIS POLICY

The purpose of this Policy is to demonstrate Alterna’s commitment to meeting the needs of persons with disabilities including members of the public and its employees, by ensuring products, services, facilities, employment, and communication are accessible upon request. This Policy also provides that all of our employees understand their roles and responsibilities as they relate to the provision of such services.

4.0    DEFINITIONS

For purposes of this Policy, terms are defined as follows:

“Alterna” means Alterna Savings and Credit Union Limited and CS Alterna Bank.

“Employee” means all Alterna employees.

“Management” and “Managers” means President & CEO, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, Directors, Managers and Supervisors.

“The Standard” means the requirements outlined in the Customer Service Standard within the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.

“Personal assistive device” refers to a device that enables the person with a disability to achieve mobility, communicate and/or access services.

“Support person” means a paid professional or volunteer or family member or friend of the person with a disability whom they rely on for certain services or assistance such as facilitating communication, physical support to perform daily activities, etc.

“Service animal” refers to specially trained animals used by persons with disabilities to achieve independence, mobility, communication, identify safety risks, etc.

5.0    GOVERNING PRINCIPLES

Alterna is committed to improving, in concert with regulatory requirements, the accessibility of our services to persons with disabilities.  To demonstrate its commitment, Alterna has developed procedures and practices according to the principles outlined in the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service.  These principles are dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity.

As per the “principle of dignity”, Alterna treats members and clients with disabilities as equally valued and deserving of effective and full service as any other member/client.

As per the “principle of independence”, Alterna allows its members and clients freedom from control or influence of others and provides people with the freedom of choice.

As per the “principle of integration”, Alterna ensures that policies, practices and procedures are designed to be accessible to everyone including people with disabilities.

As per the “principle of equal opportunity”, Alterna ensures that people with disabilities have the same opportunity to benefit from the way Alterna provides products or services as others.  They should not have to make significantly more effort to access or obtain service nor have to accept lesser quality or more inconvenience.

6.0    ACCESSIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE POLICY

In accordance with established procedures and/or practices for the provision of Alterna services to persons with disabilities, Alterna management and/or employees:

  • Consider a person’s disability when communicating with them;
  • Welcome assistive devices in public workplaces such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes and oxygen tanks and identify any situations where such use may not be permitted;
  • Welcome service animals in public workplaces;
  • Welcome support persons as requested by members/clients and the public with disabilities;
  • Notify members/clients with disabilities when accessible services we normally provide are disrupted;
  • Invite members/clients to provide feedback through the Solutions Centre;
  • Complete and/or attend training on Accessible Customer Service and apply that knowledge in the provision of our services;
  • Ensure members/clients know where to find our Accessibility Plan;
  • Offer publically available information in accessible formats (including large print and Braille), if requested;
  • Make requested information available in accessible format as soon as reasonably possible taking into account the format requested.

7.0    MARKETING MATERIAL ACCESSIBILITY

Also in accordance with established procedures and/or practices for the provision of Alterna services to persons with disabilities, Alterna ensures all marketing materials such as product/service brochures, monthly statements and other items, whether print or online, are available in large print format on request.

The website at alterna.ca feature high contrast and adjustable font sizes to accommodate members’ accessibility.  All new websites and/or content comply with WCAG 2.0 Level A requirements.

Print and online materials are accessible to persons with disabilities.  Existing material will be reviewed on a timely basis and/or on request.

8.0    SELF-SERVE KIOSKS

Alterna’s current offering of self-serve kiosks (i.e. ATMs) complies with Accessibility Standards.  In accordance with AODA requirements, Alterna will ensure compliance when designing, procuring or adding self-serve kiosks to fulfill future needs.

9.0    RECRUITMENT POLICIES

In order to facilitate the recruitment of persons with disabilities, Alterna management and/or employees:

  • Make job applicants aware that Alterna will accommodate their disabilities upon request during the selection process;
  • Consult with job applicant to make adjustments that would best suit their needs upon request;
  • Notify successful applicants of its policies for accommodating employees with disabilities.

10.0    EMPLOYMENT POLICIES

10.1    Accessible Employee Communication, Training, and Practices

As part of its commitment to provide an accessible work environment, Alterna commits to providing its employees with proper training and notification when new accessibility requirements come into effect. Alterna also makes workplace information available to employees with disabilities in a format accessible to them. Such information will be available within a reasonable time taking into account the format requested. Alterna will do its best to provide its employees with disabilities with access to career development opportunities afforded to its employees generally.

10.2    Individual Accommodation Plan

Alterna will take care to develop an individual accommodation plan for employees that face a disability or are return to work with a disability. This requirement will be incorporated into HR Policies and communicated to Alterna employees. Employees facing a disability are encouraged to explain their accessibility needs to an HR representative so that individualized accommodation plans can be assembled.  This plan will set out ways to accommodate employees with the disabilities to perform their employment tasks.

Individual accommodation plans will be updated on a yearly basis or at the request of the employee. This information will be kept private.

10.3    Individualized Emergency Response Plans

Alterna recognizes that employees with disabilities may require assistance in emergency situations. These employees are encouraged to explain their accessibility needs to an HR representative so that individualized emergency plans can be assembled. This plan will document the steps to be taken by the employee with the disability and designated assisting employees, if required, in emergency situations. This information will be kept private.

10.4     Training

To fulfill Alterna’s commitment to meeting the needs of persons with disabilities a training program on Ontario’s accessibility laws is maintained.  The training program is internet based and provides information on assisting people with various disabilities. This training program will be recurring on a yearly basis.

11.0    ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Board:

  • Have oversight accountability for the implementation of the Accessibility Standards;
  • Review and approve the Policy every three years at a minimum;
  • Monitor the effectiveness of the Policy on a periodic basis.

The Board of Directors may delegate this responsibility to the Business Oversight Committee, as per the Governance Policy.

Management (under the leadership of Senior Vice President & Chief Member Officer):

  • Develops workplace procedures and practices in keeping with the Standard;
  • Ensures existing policies and procedures do not conflict with the Standard;
  • Ensures that all employees are aware of the Policy and provided with the appropriate training;
  • Escalates, when required, incidents and member feedback related to the Standard;
  • Updates, promotes, encourages and ensures compliance to the Policy;
  • Reviews the Policy, procedures and practices as required;
  • Files the Customer Service report with the Ministry of Community and Social Services on an annual basis;
  • Reviews policy, procedure and practices as required and reports results to the Board of Directors.

Employees:

  • Attend/complete training sessions;
  • Follow established procedures for the provision of services to persons with disabilities;
  • Escalate, when required, incidents and member feedback related to the Standard;
  • Promote and encourage compliance to the Policy.

12.0    REVIEW AND APPROVAL

This Policy shall be reviewed every three years at a minimum and more frequently as required.  This Policy shall be reviewed by the Board of Directors every three years at a minimum.

13.0    MONITORING OF COMPLIANCE TO THIS POLICY

Internal Audit is to review and assess compliance towards this Policy on a periodic basis.

14.0    EFFECTIVE DATE

This Policy will be effective as of January 1, 2016.