The first phase of a 10-year plan to make public and private businesses in Ontario more accessible to people with disabilities went into effect January 1, 2012. For travellers with disabilities, this provincial legislation could make navigating hotels and restaurants in the province much easier in years to come.To be implemented throughout 2012, phase one requires businesses to educate their employees about how to engage with and assist people with disabilities. The hope is to spark an attitude change in customer service and help employees to become more confident when dealing with people with not only mobility issues, but also vision and hearing impairments and other disabilities. More tangibly, businesses must create a customer service plan for people with disabilities by the end of the year.
Subsequent phases in the legislation will have wider-ranging implications for Web sites, employment, transportation and signage. The final phase is what is likely keeping business owners up at night: ensuring that buildings are accessible to those with physical disabilities. This portion of the legislation hasn’t been passed yet, and may not be passed until 2025.