ORHMA – Ontario Restaurants, Hotels, Motels, and Accessibility

1 in 7 people in Ontario has
a visible or invisible disability. That’s a powerful
statistic. What’s even more
powerful is if we stop focusing on the 1
and think about the 7. ORHMA, the Ontario Restaurant,
Hotel, and Motel Association, the largest provincial
hospitality association in Canada, celebrates this
spectrum by advocating for accessibility for
both employees and clients. Following Ontario’s accessible
employment standard concerning career development, ORHMA strongly
accounts for persons with disabilities. They consider their
accommodations plans when providing opportunities
for advancement. They also address each
employee’s individual needs when developing
a path to advance their career. Creating an inclusive
environment for your employees leads to an inclusive
environment for your clients. This change is fundamental
to the successful growth of all organizations, especially
small or medium sized organizations that often must have all
hands on deck to consistently bring in new clients,
if they are to remain competitive. To understand this, remember
that client accommodations serve more than the
individual with a disability. You are also serving all
the people in their support network. In doing so, your
organization multiplies its number of customers
by a minimum of three. So, how can your
organization get started to make sure you are welcoming
to these potential clients? First, examine the methods you
are using to get clients in the door. Review and share your marketing
materials with an appreciable sample of test
customers, specifically those who self-identify
as having a disability. They can advise on
appropriate adjustments. If your organization
has a physical location, no matter what the industry,
provide a preview of your establishment online using photos
of the interior, exterior, and the floor plan
of your building. With these,
clients with mobility or other physical challenges
can better plan their visit. Make sure your organization
is easily accessible to answer queries by providing your
potential clients with different channels through which
they can establish contact. This includes phone, fax,
email, socialmedia, etc. Once clients are through
your door, it is up to you and your staff to convey your
culture of accessibility through empathy the core of
accommodation. Following Ontario’s accessible
employment standard is a great first step towards fostering this empathy
among your employees. You can also foster this
empathy through role-playing, as some members of
ORHMA have done. For example, a popular race-track
operator often deconstructs an occasion in which a client
seemed to ignore security guards’ instructions to distance their
dog from the track’s horses. The employees only later
realized that client was deaf. The organization’s managers and
employees often reenact these types of scenarios to determine
how to best address these situations
in the future. When your employees are
trained to view situations from the perspective of a customer,
and work in an inclusive environment thanks to the employment standard,
they will understand there is no difference between clients,
themselves, and everyone else. There is no “us and them”—
only a spectrum — only us. Accessibility –
it’s easier than you think.

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