Hearing Disabilities:


  • Deaf: severe to profound hearing loss
  • Hard of hearing: a person who uses their residual hearing and speech to communicate
  • Deafened: tend to hear poorly or not at all

Tips for Serving Customers:

  • Attract customer’s attention before speaking – gentle touch on the shoulder or wave of your hand
  • Look directly at the person
  • May have to use pen and paper
  • Speak clearly, keep your hands away from your face
  • Reduce background noise

Deaf/blind Disabilities:


  • Cannot see or hear to some degree
  • Many will be accompanied by a support person

Tips for Serving Customers

  • Speak directly to your customer, not the support person
  • Identify yourself to the support person

Intellectual or Development Disabilities:


  • Intellectual development and capacity that is below average
  • Can mildly or profoundly limit ability to learn, communicate, do everyday activities and live independently
  • May be an invisible disability
  • They may understand you more than you know

Tips for Serving Customers

  • Don’t assume what customer can or cannot do
  • Use plain language
  • Take your time, be patient
  • Ask: “Do you understand this?”
  • Provide one piece of information at a time; step-by-step instruction
  • Offer information in simpler concepts

Learning Disabilities:


  • Affects how person acquires, interprets, retains or takes in information
  • In many cases, individual has average or above-average intelligence
  • May affect: language based learning, mathematics, writing, fine motor skills

Tips for Serving Customers

  • Take some time, be patient
  • Demonstrate a willingness to assist
  • Speak normally, clearly and directly to your customer
  • Provide information in a way that works for your customer (i.e. pen and paper)
  • Be prepared to explain any materials you provide

Mental Health Disabilities:

Definition:Defined as the absence of psychological well-being and satisfactory adjustment to society

  • Some common features of mental health disabilities are: phobias, panic attacks, hallucinations, mood swings, bipolar disorders (depression and manic phases)

Tips for Serving Customers

  • Treat customer with the same level of respect and consideration
  • Be confident and reassuring
  • Do not be confrontational
  • If the customer is in crisis, ask how best to help
  • Don’t take things personally

Speech or Language Disabilities:


  • May have problems communicating
  • May be difficult to pronounce words, slurring or stuttering
  • May use communication boards or other assistive devices

Tips for Serving Customers:

  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Give whatever time they need to get their point across
  • Ask questions that can be answered “yes” or “no,” if possible
  • Don’t interrupt or finish your customer’s sentence
  • Say “I don’t understand, can you repeat that?”

Physical or Mobility Disabilities:


  • May restrict a person in the following ways: control or speed of movements, coordination and balance, ability to grasp objects, ability to walk long distances, ability to sit or stand for prolonged periods
  • Can be present at birth, result from disease, injury or impairment

Tips for Serving Customers

  • Speak directly to the customer
  • Ask before you help
  • Respect personal space
  • Don’t move any items they may have
  • Describe what you are going to do beforehand
  • Don’t leave your customer in an awkward, dangerous or undignified position

Vision Disabilities:


  • Most individuals who are legally blind have some remaining vision; very few are totally blind
  • Low or no vision can restrict ability to read signs, locate landmarks or see hazards
  • May use guide dog or white cane
  • May need to view written documents in large print, or with help of magnifier

Tips for Serving Customers

  • Don’t assume customer can’t see you
  • Speak directly to customer
  • Offer your elbow to guide
  • If they accept, walk slowly, wait for permission
  • Identify landmarks
  • Be precise and descriptive with information
  • Don’t leave customer

Most importantly, recognize your nervousness and relax. People with disabilities are generally aware they may need some accommodations and will work with you. Just remember to ask, “How can I help?”

Assistive Options

The following provides tips for interacting with customers using assistive devices, customers with service animals, and customers with support persons.

Customers using Assistive Equipment

  • Inappropriate to lean on or reach over them
  • Ensure that the person is permitted to enter the premises with the device and to utilize the device unless excluded by law
  • Potential barriers to the use of assistive devices must be removed where possible
  • Ensure persons with disabilities are aware of assistive devices available on the provider’s premises or otherwise supplied by the provider
  • Assistive devices must be offered in a manner that respects the person’s dignity and independence

Customers with Service Animals

  • Allowed anywhere customers normally have access
  • Customer is responsible for the care and supervision of the service animal
  • Avoid talking to, touching, or making eye contact with the service animal
  • Customer is permitted to keep the animal with him or her unless the animal is otherwise excluded by law from the premises (e.g. areas where food is prepared)

Customers with Support Persons

  • Both persons are permitted to enter the premises together
  • The person with the disability is not prevented from having access to the support person while on the premises
  • Consent is required if confidential information is going to be shared when a support person is present
  • Speak directly to your customer, not the support person

Printed or electronic document

  • Read the document out loud or explain it
  • Make a large print version
  • Create a structured electronic file so people can read it with their assistive devices

Technical or complicated information

  • Use common words instead of jargon
  • Break text into shorter sentences and paragraphs
  • Use graphics to add meaning


  • Include a written or verbal description


  • Use larger text, simple pictograms, strong colour contrast, and/or tactile elements

Verbal or audio

  • Make it visual – write it down, put it in an email, or on a digital screen


  • Add subtitles and/or video descriptions
  • Provide a transcript
  • Consider an in-person presentation or conversation


  • Use text-based technology such as email, texting, or instant messaging
  • Use technologies designed for the hard of hearing like a teletypewriter (TTY) or a telephone relay service


  • Share a copy of your presentation materials
  • Hire a sign language interpreter
  • Use a microphone

Potential accommodations for the hiring and selection process may include:

  • Providing accessible formats of the job posting
    • Large print version
    • Accessible document that can be modified as needed
  • Interviews may be conducted via email, web chat, or through a TTY line
  • Written tests/documentation may be conducted verbally
  • Schedule more time for each interview
  • Host the interview in a brightly lit, accessible room
  • Provide offer letters in multiple accessible formats (email, printed, phone conversation)
  • Include information about accommodation policy and process with job offer letter