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Accessibility Policy

Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Integrated Accessibility Standards Policy

Policy Created: December 4, 2014
Policy Revised: June 22, 2021

Policy

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony is committed to treating all people in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence.  We believe in integration and equal opportunity.  As such, we are signatories to the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Declaration for Canadian Orchestras.  We are committed to meeting the needs of persons with disabilities in a timely manner, and will do so by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility and meeting accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

Purpose

This Integrated Accessibility Standards Policy has been established by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony to govern the provision of services with Regulation 191/11, “Integrated Accessibility Standards” (“Regulation”) under the AODA.

These standards are developed to break down barriers and increase accessibility for persons with disabilities in the areas of information and communications and employment.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony is governed by this policy as well as the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Policy and the AODA in meeting the accessibility needs of persons with disabilities.

Scope

This Policy applies to all employees and volunteers of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

Responsibility

All employees, volunteers, contractors and any other persons acting on behalf of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony are responsible for complying with this policy.

Department directors are responsible for ensuring that staff members follow the guidelines set out in this policy.

The KWS will create a staff AODA Committee that will meet quarterly to review the progress of accessibility initiatives and will report annually to the KWS Board of Directors.

Definitions

Accessible formats: may include, but are not limited to, large print, recorded audio and electronic formats, Braille, and other formats usable by persons with disabilities.

Accommodation: means the special arrangements made or assistance provided so that persons with disabilities can participate in the experiences available to persons without disabilities.  Accommodation will vary depending on the person’s unique needs.

Communication supports: may include, but are not limited to, captioning, alternative and augmentative communication supports, plain language, sign language, and other supports that facilitate effective communications.

Communications: means the interaction between two or more persons or entities, or any combination of them, where information is provided, sent, or received.

Information: includes data, facts, and knowledge that exist in any format, including text, audio, digital or images, and that convey meaning.

References and Related Statements of Policy and Guidelines

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
Ontario Human Rights Code
Ontario Regulation 429/07 – Accessibility Standards for Customer Service
Ontario Regulation 191/11 – Integrated Accessibility Standards
Accessible Customer Service Policy 

General Requirements

Multi-Year Accessibility Plan

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will develop, maintain and document a Multi-Year Accessibility Plan outlining the company’s strategy to prevent and remove barriers from its workplace and to improve opportunities for persons with disabilities.

The Multi-Year Accessibility Plan will be reviewed and updated at least once every five years, and will be posted on the KWS website.  Upon request, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will provide a copy of the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan in an accessible format.

Training Employees and Volunteers

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will ensure that training is provided to all of its employees and volunteers on the Ontario Human Rights Code and the AODA, and the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service. Employees and volunteers will be re-trained when changes are made to the Accessibility Policy.  New Employees and volunteers will be trained within two weeks of their start date.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony commits to providing training and resources to its staff on topics related to people with disabilities, such as training on communicating with people experiencing mental health crises, cultural sensitivity training, general equity and access training, and accessible communication.  We proudly participate in Blue Umbrella training through the Alzheimer Society.

Integrated Accessibility Standards

The AODA intends to achieve a more accessible Ontario on or before January 1, 2025.  To achieve this mandatory standards have been created.

The five standards are:

  • Information and Communications Standards
  • Employment Standards
  • Customer Service Standards
  • Design of Public Spaces Standards (Not currently applicable to the KWS)
  • Transportation Standards (Not currently applicable to the KWS)

The general requirements for all standards include the development and implementation of accessibility policy, accessibility plan and training.

Information and Communications Standards

Feedback

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will continue to ensure that its process for receiving and responding to feedback is accessible to all persons with disabilities permitting persons to provide their feedback in person, by telephone, in writing, by delivering an electronic text by email or otherwise and by providing, or arranging for the provision of, accessible formats and communications supports, upon request.

Accessible Formats and Communication Supports

Upon request, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will provide, or will arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities in a timely manner that takes into account the person’s accessibility needs due to disability.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will consult with the person making the request in determining the suitability of an accessible format or communication support.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will also notify the public about the availability of accessible formats and communication supports via the website, or by contacting Patron Services.

Accessible Websites and Web Content

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will ensure that our website, including web content, conform to the World Wide Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, at Level AA.

Customer Service Standards

Providing Goods and Services to People with Disabilities

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony is committed to excellence in serving all customers including people with disabilities.

Accessibility at our Venues

All of our venues – the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts, the Centre-in-the-Square, First United Church in Waterloo, Harcourt United Church in Guelph, and Central Presbyterian Church in Cambridge – have accessibility ramps and/or elevators to ensure that our patron’s needs are accommodated.

Accessibility for those who are blind or visually impaired

If a patron has any type of vision loss that impairs them from reading signs, seeing hazards, or locating landmarks, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony staff members will assist them at the patron’s request. We currently do not have programs in large font or in braille, but a staff member would assist a patron in reading materials, upon their request. We do offer magnifiers for those with visual impairment.

Accessibility for those who are hearing impaired

To speak with our Patron Services Representatives or another KWS staff member via phone, patrons can contact us through Bell Relay Services. The phone number is 1-800-855-0511.

At the Centre-in-the-Square, Phonic Ear Starsound Infrared Listening Systems are available to rent.

Allergies/Chemical Sensitivities

To be conscientious of patrons, staff members, or musicians with allergies and sensitivities, patrons are encouraged to limit the use of all scents, including cologne and aftershave, at all of our venues.

Obus Form Back Supports

Obus Form Back Supports are available in the First Aid Room at the Centre-in-the-Square.

Medical Emergencies and First Aid

Should anyone require First Aid treatment or have a medical emergency, KWS staff and the Centre-in-the-Square staff members are trained in First Aid and CPR.

Service Animals

We welcome people with disabilities and their service animals. Service animals are allowed on the parts of our premises that are open to the public.

Support Persons

A person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person will be allowed to have that person accompany them on our premises. Patrons with valid CNIB, PAL or Access2 cards will be allowed to book complimentary tickets for their companion at a 1:1 ratio.

Notice of Temporary Disruption

In the event of a planned or unexpected disruption to services or facilities for customers with disabilities, the KWS will notify customers promptly. We will post a notice immediately on our website and at our Box Office and at the concert venue with information regarding the reason for the disruption, the anticipated length of time, the description of alternative facilities or services if available.

Feedback process

Customers who wish to provide feedback on the way the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony operates with respect to people with disabilities can complete the main contact form on the website, email, phone or visit Patron Services. All feedback will be directed to the Patron Services Manager, and will be responded to as soon as possible. Complaints will be addressed according to our organization’s regular complaint management procedures.

Modifications to this or other policies

Any policy of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony that does not respect and promote the dignity and independence of people with disabilities will be modified or removed.

Training for staff

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will provide training to employees, volunteers and others who deal with the public or other third parties on their behalf. In depth training will be provided to all Patron Services and Front of House staff within 2 weeks of their start date.

Training will include:

  • An overview of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and the requirements of the customer service standard
  • The KWS’s plan related to the customer service standard.
  • How to interact and communicate with people with various types of disabilities
  • How to interact with people with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a service animal or a support person
  • What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty in accessing the Symphony’s services
  • Staff will also be trained when changes are made to the Accessibility plan. Records of who was trained and dates of training completion will be kept.

Employment Standards

Recruitment

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will notify the public about the availability of accommodation for applicants with disabilities in its recruitment process.

Recruitment, Assessment or Selection Process

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will notify job applicants, when they are individually selected to participate further in an assessment or selection process that accommodations are available upon request in relation to the materials or processes to be used.

If a selected candidate requests an accommodation, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will consult with the applicant and provide, or arrange the provision of, a suitable accommodation in a manner that takes into account the applicant’s accessibility needs due to disability.

Notice to Successful Applicants

When making offers of employment, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will notify the successful applicant of its policies for accommodating employees with disabilities.

Informing Employees of Supports

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will continue to inform its employees of its policies (or any updates to those policies) used to support employees with disabilities, including policies on the provision of job accommodations that take into account an employee’s accessibility needs due to disability.  This information will be provided to new employees as soon as practicable after commencing employment.

Accessible Forms and Communication Supports for Employees

Upon the request of an employee with a disability, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will consult with the employee to provide, or arrange for the provision of, accessible formats and communication supports for information that is needed to perform his/her job, and information that is generally available to other employees.

In determining the suitability of an accessible format or communication support, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will consult with the employee making the request.

Workplace Emergency Response Information

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who have a disability, if the disability is such that the individualized information is necessary, and if the KWS is aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability.  The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will provide this information as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the need for accommodation.

Where the employee requires assistance, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will, with the consent of the employee, provide the workplace emergency response information to the person designated by the KWS to provide assistance to the employee.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will review the individualized workplace emergency response information when the employee moves to a different location in the organization, when the employee’s overall accommodation needs or plans are reviewed.

Documented Individual Accommodation Plans

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will maintain a written process for the development of documented individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities.

If requested, information regarding accessible formats and communication supports provided will also be included in individual accommodation plans.

In addition, the plans will include individualized workplace emergency response information (where required), and will identify any other accommodation that is to be provided.

Return to Work Process

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will maintain a written return to work process for its employees who have been absent from work due to a disability and who require disability-related accommodations in order to return to work.

The return to work process will outline the steps the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will take to facilitate the return to work and will include documented individual accommodation plans as part of the process.

This return to work process will not replace or override any other return to work process created by or under any other statue (i.e. the Workplace Safety Act, 1997).

Performance Management, Career Development and Advancement and Redeployment

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will take into account the accessibility needs of employees with disabilities, as well as individual accommodation plans, when conducting performance management, providing career development and advancement to employees, or when redeploying employees.

Questions About KWS Integrated Accessibility Standards Policy

This policy has been developed to break down barriers and increase accessibility of persons with disabilities in the areas of information and communications, customer service and employment.  If anyone has a question about the policy, or if the purpose of a policy is not understood, please contact Patron Services at patronservices@kwsymphony.on.ca or by telephone at 519-745-4711 Extension 1.