Speigel Nichols Fox LLP (“SNF”) Customer Service Accessibility Policy
This policy is consistent with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Customer Service Standard) made under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).
1. Purpose and Commitment
SNF is committed to maintaining an accessible environment for persons with disabilities in the delivery of its services. SNF will use reasonable efforts to ensure that its policies, practices, and procedures governing the provision of its services to persons with disabilities are consistent with the following principles:
a) services are provided in a way that respects the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities;
b) persons with disabilities are able to benefit from the same services, in the same place and in a similar way as other clients; and
c) persons with disabilities have opportunities equal to others to obtain, use, and benefit from SNF’s services.
d) SNF may deny service to persons with disabilities for the same reasons that they would deny service to another other persons. As examples:
i) SNF does not practise the type of law that the person requires.
ii) SNF’s lawyers are too busy to take on the extra work.
iii) SNF has a conflict of interest.
For the purposes of this policy:
a) any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation, or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect, or illness. It 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,
b) a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
c) a learning disability or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
d) a mental disorder, or
e) an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.
“Guide dog” means a dog trained as a guide for a person who is blind or visually impaired.
“Service animal” means an animal for a person with disabilities if it is readily apparent that the animal is used by the person for reasons relating to his or her disability or where the person provides a letter from a physician or nurse confirming that the he or she requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability.
“Support person” means, in relation to a person with disabilities, another person who accompanies him or her in order to help with access to services, communication, mobility, personal care, or medical needs.
3. Application of Policy
This policy applies to SNF services that are provided externally to the public or third parties.
The policy applies to all lawyers, paralegals, law clerks, and staff at SNF, agents, volunteers, clients, and visitors to SNF. Everybody at SNF is accountable for providing accessibility to persons with disabilities.
4. Providing services to persons with disabilities
a) communicate with persons with disabilities in ways that take into account their disability;
b) serve persons with disabilities who use assistive devices; and
c) ensure that persons with disabilities who are accompanied by their Guide Dog or other Service Animals are permitted to enter SNF’s premises with the animal and to keep the animal with them, unless the animal is excluded by law from the premises.
5. Support Persons
Person with disabilities may enter SNF’s premises with a support person and have access to the support person while on the premises. This right, however, is subject to SNF’s duties to the client regarding confidentiality, solicitor-client privilege, conflicts of interest, capacity to instruct, and the perception of undue influence. In addition, SNF may require a support person to sign a confidentiality agreement.
SNF may require persons with disabilities to be accompanied by a support person when on SNF’s premises, but only if, in SNF’s discretion, a support person is necessary to protect the health and safety of the person with disabilities or the health or safety of others on the premises.
6. Service Animals
A person with disabilities may be accompanied by a Guide Dog or other Service Animal when on SNF premises. If Service Animals are excluded by law from the premises, SNF will provide other resources or supports to enable the person with disabilities to access the services SNF offers.
7. Notice of temporary disruption
SNF will notify any client, or other person, who has made an appointment in the event of a planned or unexpected disruption in the facilities or services usually used by persons with disabilities. This notice will include information about the reason for the disruption, its anticipated duration, and a description of alternative facilities or services, if available. SNF will communicate this information by whatever method is reasonable in the circumstances.
8. Training for staff
SNF will train its staff and other individuals who provide services to the public on SNF’s behalf on the provision of its services to persons with disabilities. The training will be provided as soon as practicable after a staff person commences his or her duties and will include the following topics:
a) the purposes of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and the requirements of the customer service standard;
b) how to interact and communicate with persons with various types of disabilities;
c) how to interact with persons with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a Guide Dog, Service Animal, or a support person;
d) what to do if a person with a particular type of disability is having difficulty in accessing SNF’s services; and
e) this policy.
SNF will provide training on an ongoing basis when changes are made to this or any other policy relating to this subject.
9. Feedback process
SNF welcomes any feedback, including complaints, regarding the methods it uses to provide services to persons with disabilities. Individuals may provide their feedback in person, by telephone, and in writing by email (email@example.com) or ordinary mail or courier to Susanne Balpataky (“Balpataky”), 1 Robert Speck Parkway, Suite 200, Mississauga L4Z 3M3 905-366-9700 x228. If appropriate, Balpataky will address the issues raised. If a complaint cannot be addressed, Balpataky will advise the complainant.
10. Modifications to this or other policies
Changes will not be made to this policy unless the impact of the changes on persons with disabilities has been considered. Any SNF policy that does not respect and promote the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities will be modified or removed.
11. Questions about this policy
If anyone has a question about the policy, or if the purpose of the policy is not understood, please contact Balpataky.
12. Maintenance of documents
SNF will notify persons to whom it provides services of this policy, by posting the information on SNF website or, if necessary, by any other reasonable means.