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For those that live in Canada, the topic of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) has been front and center. The new legislation, that became law in 2010 with compliance deadlines for many businesses of January 1, 2012, has brought forward the need for additional processes for working with individuals with disabilities. For those living elsewhere, similar legislation is either already in place or will be arriving soon.
If you have been a part of an Accessibility presentation lately, it has most likely focused on ease of access to physical buildings and how people with disabilities should be interacted with from a customer care perspective. The journey that now needs to be focussed on opens another door; now we need to pay attention to a different aspect of disability legislation, namely Visual Accessibility, which applies to all printed customer communications and any other business documents.
Consider that many of us get our credit card statements, insurance policy declarations, bank statements and other documents via mail and electronic formats that are important to our financial and physical health. For those in the U.S and Canada with a visual impairment, it is nearly impossible to read and understand these types of documents without assistance from another person. This situation has led to the increasing legislation that requires companies to offer alternate formats for documents to be produced in formats such as Braille, Large Print, Audio and e-Text. And yes, if you are wondering about online PDF, Word, or HTML documents, it applies to those too.
Imagine your surprise sitting in a meeting when you find out that your company now needs to take your document production process and start adding alternate formats into your printing, mailing, and online availability processes. If you find yourself in a situation like this where your company now needs to provide alternate formats (i.e., business document accessibility) then there are specifics about this that need to be understood.
First, know your market and the laws that apply. If you are in Ontario, Canada, then AODA is definitely something that will affect your business processes. If you are in that camp, then our AODA Printing: What you need to know article will help you make heads or tails of the requirements and the risks for not complying with the new regulations.
Other regulations that can be applicable to Canada include:
For those in the U.S., the requirements aren’t as directly outlined as the AODA legislation in Canada, but there are still acts that have requirements and carry potential litigation costs and penalties including:
If you are still trying to absorb the fact that these regulatory requirements affect the printed material that you use to communicate with your customers, trust us when we say you aren’t alone. This brings us to our second point; where do you turn to find out more information? There is information out there to help you navigate new regulations and the coming changes. Remember that there are many considerations for offering alternate formats to your visually impaired clients but the key is being well informed.
Third, find a knowledgeable organization that can help you navigate the landscape of business document accessibility for individuals with visual disabilities. This is an area that Crawford Technologies specializes in. CrawfordTech can help your company navigate the requirements and incorporate the solutions you need to meet regulatory requirements while increasing customer satisfaction.
Want to know more about business document accessibility, the regulatory requirements, and the risks of not offering this customer service?
We invite you to join our educational webinar on February 15, 2012. There are two times you can register for (10:00am EST and 4:00pm EST) and it is completely free to attend.
Sign up and learn more: CrawfordTech.com/Webinars
"Providing monthly statements in Braille, e-text and large-format print using CrawfordTech's DAS service helps us stay at the forefront of client communications and customer satisfaction while conforming to all applicable regulations and laws." - a national telecoms provider
"Now we are able to bring in a lot more customers because of the capabilities we have gained with CrawfordTech." - a print service provider