After AODA standards come into force, they must be reviewed at least every five (5) years. In other words, the AODA Standards Development Committee that created each standard must also review it every five (5) years, or more often. The Committee must then submit a draft of their review to the Minister in charge of the AODA. The Minister must make the review available to the public so that people can comment on it. Based on those public reactions, the committee revises the proposed standard and resubmits it to the minister. The minister must recommend to the Lieutenant Governor that the standard be accepted in whole, in part, or with modifications. The first review of the Customer Service Standards became public in 2014. The government responded by updating these standards in 2016. Consequently, a second review of the Customer Service Standards should have taken place in 2021.
Review of the Customer Service Standards
In this needed second review, the AODA Customer Service Standards Development Committee should outline improvements to make customer service accessible for people with disabilities by 2025. The Committee should recommend changes to the standards to reduce the accessibility barriers that people with disabilities currently face while accessing services, including:
- Communicating with staff who have different levels of AODA customer service training
- Interacting with staff while accompanied by:
- Entering venues with assistive devices, or using a service provider’s devices
- Accessing service during temporary disruptions
- Providing feedback about service accessibility
In addition, the Committee should recommend changes to the standards to identify, remove, and prevent other barriers that people with disabilities face when they attempt to benefit from customer service. For example, the Third Review of the AODA points out remaining barriers in customer service, including weak AODA training. The government can mitigate some of these barriers through stronger enforcement of existing AODA standards. On the other hand, other barrier removal requires changes to the standards.
Accessibility Ecosystem Model for Updating AODA Standards
Furthermore, the AODA Information and Communications Standards Development Committee reports that the current procedure for creating and reviewing AODA standards cannot keep pace with modern technology. While methods of creating and using information change rapidly, current standards cannot provide enough guidance to organizations about how to ensure that the information they produce is accessible. As a result, the Committee recommends an alternative system for developing, updating, and enforcing AODA standards. This new system, called the Accessibility Ecosystem Model, would have three components:
- Accessibility laws
- A community platform to promote broader interest and innovation in accessibility
- A trusted authority to constantly review the laws and oversee the community platform
The model would affect not only the Information and Communications Standards, but other existing and future standards. As a result, the needed second review of the Customer Service Standards should explore how the accessibility ecosystem model could impact the Customer Service Standards.