Eight Thompsonites were recently trained by the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities (SMD) to deliver a two-hour workshop on accessible customer service standards.
Under the terms of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, businesses and organizations must train staff and volunteers in these standards, designed to ensure customer service is available to all Manitobans regardless of ability, by Nov. 1 of this year.
The SMD designed a trains-the-trainer course to help organizations comply by the deadline, said training co-ordinator Heather Hiscock.
“By having trainers available to present the Accessible Customer Service Standard training we can help several businesses and organizations throughout Manitoba comply,” she said.
The course has been held a number of times in the province’s south but this was the first time it was held in Thompson. It included an overview of setting up the accessible customer service standards training along with the basics of adult learning theory. The eight participants left the course with a facilitator’s guide, a binder of materials, a customizable PowerPoint presentation and access to a made-in-Manitoba video series focusing on accessibility, understanding barriers, legal requirements, human rights and customer service. They join 22 other trainers in the province so far.
“We’ll start by getting the folks within our organization trained,” said Charlene Kissick of Community Futures North Central Development, one of the people who completed the course along with representatives of organizations like the City of Thompson, the Juniper Centre and the Thompson Supported Employment Program (TSEP). “We aren’t just required to have paid staff trained but all volunteers as well. Working with 17 communities throughout the region we have 20-plus volunteers. After that we we’d love to offer to clients and publicly throughout the region.”
“As an agency that supports people within our community, the Juniper Centre believes it is important that we meet all accessibility standards and can reach as many people as possible,” said James Goble. “We have a combined full- and part-time staff of 150 that we will be training first and then we hope to help with training the rest of the community.”
The training was conducted at the TSEP’s classroom and was also offered to the public the following day.
For a list of certified trainers or to find a workshop near you, email Hiscock at email@example.com call her at 204-975-3100 or toll-free 1-866282-8041.