Alternate Format Compliance in Canada
The numbers of customers that can potentially require alternate format bills, statements and other transactional communications is staggering.
According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind's 2008-2009 Annual Review, approximately 836,000 Canadians live with blindness or vision loss. That number continues to grow as the baby boomers age. In addition, estimates are that one in six Canadians suffers from dyslexia.This includes people from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. As well, over 1,000,000 Canadians are functionally illiterate, meaning that they have serious problems dealing with printed materials. These print disabled individuals can also require alternate formats.
Below is information regarding the pertinent acts and statutes in Canada regarding accessibility to information as it applies to bills, statements and other transactional customer communications for visually impaired and print disabled customers.
Section 15, subsection 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms dictates that all individuals are to have the benefit of services regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.
The Access to Information Act specifically addresses issues regarding the access to relevant information for Canadians with disabilities
For Ontarians with disabilities, this act provides protection for a range of accessibility issues, including the access to services and information.
This act protects the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves held by a government institution. To provide individuals with a right of access to that information, it specifically includes provisions to provide formats that allow a person with a sensory disability to read or listen to the personal information.
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