Accessibility Policy

Last Revised: January 19, 2021

Policies, Practices, & Procedures

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 ("the AODA") is a Provincial Act with the purpose of developing, implementing and mandating accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for persons with disabilities, with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises.

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Statement of Commitment

Wattpad is committed to providing a respectful, welcoming, accessible, and inclusive environment for all persons with disabilities in a way that is respectful of the dignity and independence of people with disabilities and in a manner which takes into account the person's disability and embodies the principles of integration and equal opportunity.

Wattpad is committed to becoming a barrier free environment and meeting the requirements of all existing legislation and its own policies and goals related to identifying, removing and preventing barriers to people with disabilities that might interfere with their ability to interact with Wattpad.

Wattpad ensures that all persons within its community are aware of their rights and responsibilities to foster an accessible and inclusive environment with and for persons with disabilities.

Wattpad is committed to, and will strive to ensure that the AODA, its regulations, standards and all other relevant legislation concerning accessibility, are rigorously observed in a timely fashion.

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Accountabilities and Responsibilities

Wattpad Leadership Team is accountable and responsible for:

  • The governance of the policy

  • Supporting and promoting the policy in their area of direct report and throughout the organization

  • Drive the culture to a high level of understanding regarding disability and accommodation

Wattpad directors and managers are accountable and responsible for:

  • Fostering open and constructive communication

  • Demonstrating sensitivity to and respect confidentiality of information

  • Raising awareness to facilitate understanding of the policy

  • Participating and co-operating to facilitate workplace accommodation

Wattpad employees are accountable and responsible for:

  • Participating and cooperating with all parties to facilitate workplace accommodation

Wattpad human resources are accountable and responsible for:

  • Participating and cooperating with all parties,

  • Acting as a resource for all parties and participants.

  • Supporting and educating managers in their obligations.

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GENERAL DEFINITIONS

Accessible Formats: include, but are not limited to accessible electronic formats, Braille, text transcripts, large print, recorded audio, and other formats accessible to persons with disabilities.

Assistive Device: a technical aid, communication device or other instrument that is used to maintain or improve the functional abilities of people with disabilities. Personal assistive devices are typically devices that members and guests bring with them such as a wheelchair, walker or a personal oxygen tank that might assist in hearing, seeing, communicating, moving, breathing, remembering and/or reading.

Barrier: as defined by the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, anything that prevents a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of his/her disability. This includes:

  • a physical barrier,

  • an architectural barrier,

  • an informational or communications barrier,

  • an attitudinal barrier,

  • a policy, practice and procedure barrier.

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

Disability: a key feature of the AODA is its definition of "disability". Under the AODA, the definition of "disability" is the same as the definition in the Ontario Human Rights Code [2]: Any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement including, but not limited to:

  • Diabetes mellitus;

  • Epilepsy;

  • A brain injury;

  • Any degree of paralysis;

  • Amputation;

  • Lack of physical coordination;

  • Blindness or visual impediment;

  • Deafness or hearing impediment;

  • Muteness or speech impediment;

  • Physical reliance of a guide dog or other animal, or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device.

  • A condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability.

  • A learning disability or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language.

  • A mental disorder.

  • An injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act, 1997.

The definition includes disabilities of different severity, visible as well as non-visible disabilities, and disabilities the effects of which may come and go. This is a broad definition, and one that must be considered closely when educating our employees in the appropriate response to our customers.

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A. Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation Policy

Purpose and Background

The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (Regulation 191/11) (the “IASR”) under the AODA provides standards for private sector organizations to increase accessibility for persons with disabilities specifically in the areas of:

  • Information and Communications

  • Employment

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Accessibility Plan

In order to achieve our goals, Wattpad will develop a multi-year Accessibility Plan which documents Wattpad’s strategy and commitment to meet the applicable standards of the IASR.

The Accessibility Plan will be developed in consultation with an external AODA auditor and a cross-functional team at Wattpad that will identify barriers that prevent a person with a disability from fully participating in aspects of society because of their disability (such as attitudinal, information or communication, technology, organizational and physical) within the stated goals of the IASR.

The Accessibility Plan will be reviewed and updated at least once every five years.

Wattpad will prepare an annual status report on the progress and measures taken to implement Wattpad’s Accessibility Plan. The Accessibility Plan and annual report can be provided in an accessible format on request.

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(1) Training

Wattpad will ensure that timely training is provided to all necessary persons, that it aligns with the requirements of the accessibility standards referred to in the IASR, and that Wattpad will continue to provide training on the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities. Appropriate records of training are, and will continue to be maintained, in accordance with the IASR.

Training, using the most appropriate methodologies, as appropriate, is provided to the following person(s):

  • all employees

  • all persons who work under a contractual agreement directly with Wattpad

  • all Ambassador volunteers

Wattpad has developed a training plan that integrates the requirements of the IASR with its current Customer Service training e-learning module, and will implement a roll-out plan for both existing and new employees prior to January 1, 2015 as required. Consequently, all future Wattpad employees will also be required to complete this training upon joining the company.

Additionally, Wattpad commits to providing employees with additional training in the event that Wattpad’s policies and/or procedures change, as well as on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance with the IASR.

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(2) Information and Communication Standards

(a) Feedback

Wattpad will ensure that its processes for receiving and responding to feedback are made available to persons with disabilities, whether members of the public, clients, customers or employees, in an appropriate, accessible format or communication support, upon their request, and that members of the public are notified of the availability of such an option. Wattpad last reviewed its current feedback processes to ensure they were accessible and in compliance with the IASR prior to January 1, 2015.

(b) Accessible Formats and Communication Supports

Wattpad will, upon request and consultation, endeavour to provide information and communications under our control about our goods and services to people with disabilities using the appropriate accessible format or communication support wherever possible, in a timely manner and on par with the fee charged to others for the same information. Wattpad will notify the public about the availability of accessible formats and communications supports. Wattpad will review and determine its current offerings of accessible formats and communications supports and will engage in an ongoing process of identifying additional accessible formats and communications supports that may be offered by Wattpad.

(c) Accessible Websites and Web Content

Wattpad is pleased to confirm that all websites, content, and applications directly controlled by Wattpad or through its contractual relationships, conform with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, as required by the IASR. Wattpad last reviewed the above-noted websites and web content to ensure compliance on January 1, 2021.

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(3) Employment Standards

(a) Recruitment

Wattpad will notify its employees and external applicants about the availability of accommodation for applicants with disabilities in its recruitment process.

(b) Recruitment, Assessment or Selection Process

Wattpad will ensure that job applicants are notified when they are individually selected to participate in the assessment or selection process and that accommodation for disabilities are made available upon request in relation to the materials or processes to be used. Wattpad will consult with individuals who request accommodations and will provide for appropriate accommodations.

(c) Notice to Successful Applicants

When presenting offers of employment, Wattpad will notify the successful applicant of its policies for accommodating employees with disabilities.

(d) Informing Employees of Supports

Wattpad will ensure that employees are informed of all accessibility policies (and 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.

(e) Accessible Formats and Communication Supports for Employees

Upon request of an employee with a disability, Wattpad will consult with the employee to provide, or arrange for accessible formats and communication supports for information that is needed to perform his/her job, and information that is available to other employees. In order to determine the suitability of an accessible format or communication support, Wattpad will consult with the employee making the request. Accessible formats and communications supports regarding general workplace information will also be provided to employees with disabilities.

(f) Workplace Emergency Response Information

Wattpad provides employees with disabilities individualized workplace emergency response information when the employee’s disability is such that the information is required and Wattpad has been informed of the need to accommodate the employee’s disability.

(g) Documented Individual Accommodation Plans

Wattpad currently accommodates the needs of its employees with disabilities as required under the Ontario Human Rights Code and Section 28 of the IASR. Wattpad will develop individualized accommodation plans for its employees with disabilities, as Wattpad is made aware. The process by which Wattpad will consult, develop, determine, document, review and routinely update the individualized accommodation plan will be formalized. Wattpad will implement and maintain measures effective to maintain the privacy of its employees with disabilities.

(h) Return to Work Process

Wattpad will maintain a documented return to work process for employees who have been absent from work due to a disability and who require disability-related accommodations and support in order to return to work. The return to work process will clearly define and outline the steps Wattpad will take to facilitate the return to work and will include documented accommodation plans for each individual as part of the process. The above stated return to work process will not replace, hinder or override any other return to work process created by or under any other statute (i.e., the Workplace Safety Insurance Act, 1997).

(i) Performance Management, Career Development and Advancement and Redeployment

Wattpad will continue to consider the accessibility needs of employees with disabilities as well as individual accommodation plans, when conducting performance management reviews, providing career development and advancement to employees and when redeploying employees.

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B. Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Policy

Statement of commitment and accountabilities

Commitment

Wattpad is committed to providing a respectful, welcoming, accessible, and inclusive environment in the provision of goods and services for both customers/clients and employees alike. Wattpad is committed to, and strives to ensure that, the AODA, the standards and all other relevant legislation concerning accessibility, are rigorously observed. Wattpad ensures that all persons within its community are aware of their rights and responsibilities to foster an accessible and inclusive environment with and for persons with disabilities.

People with disabilities will be given an equal opportunity to obtain, use and benefit from Wattpad's products and services in a way that is respectful of the dignity and independence of people with disabilities and in a manner which takes into account the person's disability.

All goods and services provided by Wattpad shall follow the principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity [1].

Wattpad is committed to becoming a barrier free environment and meeting the requirements of all existing legislation and its own policies and goals related to identifying, removing and preventing barriers to people with disabilities that might interfere with their ability to make full use of the services provided by Wattpad.

Scope

  • This policy applies to the provision of goods and services at premises owned and/or operated by Wattpad as well as any interactions with employees and customers/clients via telephone, email or written mail.

  • This policy applies to employees, volunteers, agents and/or contractors who deal with the public or other third parties that act on behalf of Wattpad.

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Customer Service Policy, Practice, and Procedure

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(1) The Provision of Goods and Services to Persons with Disabilities

Wattpad will make every reasonable effort to ensure that its policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity by:

  • ensuring that all customers receive the same value and quality;

  • allowing customers with disabilities to do things in their own ways, at their own pace when accessing goods and services as long as this does not present a safety risk;

  • using alternative methods when possible to ensure that customers with disabilities have access to the same services, in the same place and in a similar manner;

  • taking into account individual needs when providing goods and services; and

  • communicating in a manner that takes into account the customer's disability.

Wattpad’s policy establishing the above principles will be made available upon request to any individual who requests to see it. Additionally, this information will be posted on Wattpad’s website.

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Best Practices

Wattpad employees and representatives will be encouraged to be proactive in seeking solutions and removing barriers, as well as alerting all customers to the range of accommodations that are available.

The term "persons with disabilities" will be the norm, and if a specific condition must be referenced, the condition will be referenced last (e.g., a person with low vision). The following are some general tips that may help make communication and interaction with or about people with all types of disabilities more successful:

  • Remember to put people first. It is proper to say person with a disability, rather than disabled person or the disabled.

  • It is best to wait until an individual describes his or her situation to you, rather than to make your own assumptions. Many types of disabilities have similar characteristics and assumptions may be wrong.

When Wattpad bills for services, it should demonstrate a commitment to providing accessible invoices to all of our customers. This means that invoices should be provided in alternate formats upon request (e.g., hard copy, large print, email) and that staff is prepared to answer questions customers may have about the content of the invoice.

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(6) Training

Training will be provided to all employees and volunteers who deal with the public and who participate in the development of employer policies. Additionally, revised training will be provided in the event of changes to legislation or Wattpad's policy, practice and procedure. Wattpad will keep a record of training that includes the dates training was provided, the number of employees and names of employees trained. Additionally, Wattpad will create a document that describes its training policies, summarizes the content of the training, and specifies when training is to be provided. This document is available upon request to any person who requests to see it.

The training will include information on the purposes of the AODA, requirements of this Service Regulation, how to communicate and interact with people with disabilities, how to interact with service animal or support person, how to utilize assisted devices that are available at our premises, what to do if a person has difficulty accessing Wattpad services or facilities, and our policies, procedures and practices pertaining to providing accessible customer service to people with disabilities.

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(7) Notice of Disruptions in Service

Service disruptions may occur due to reasons that may or may not be within the control or knowledge of Wattpad. In the event of any temporary disruptions to facilities or services that customers with disabilities rely on to access or use, reasonable efforts will be made to provide advance notice. In some circumstances such as in the situation of unplanned temporary disruptions, advance notice may not be possible [4].

In the event that a temporary service disruption does occur, Wattpad will issue a notice of disruption to the public which will include the reason for the disruption, its anticipated duration, and a description of alternative services, if any, that are available.

Wattpad’s response to service disruption document contains a detailed description of the steps that will be taken by Wattpad in the event that a temporary service disruption occurs, and this document will be made available upon request for those who wish to view it.

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Best Practices

The status update or notice will be posted to http://status.wattpad.com and where possible will include the estimated timeline for service resumption.

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(8) Feedback Process

Wattpad shall provide customers/clients with the opportunity to provide feedback on the service provided to persons with disabilities. Information about the feedback process will be readily available to all customers/clients and notice of the process will be made available on Wattpad.com. Feedback forms along with alternate/accessible methods of providing feedback such as verbally (in person or by telephone) or written (hand written or email) will be available upon request.

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Customers/clients will be informed about the feedback process and how action will be taken if a complaint is received. Wattpad will acknowledge verbal/written/telephone feedback within two business days, and within fifteen business days of the receipt of a mailed/e-mailed complaint. In some cases, it may not be possible or appropriate to acknowledge feedback, for example, if the customer wishes to remain anonymous, or indicates that he/she does not want to receive an acknowledgment. Customers can submit feedback to: support@wattpad.com

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(9) Availability and Format of Documents

All documents required by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, including Wattpad's Accessibility Policy, notices of temporary disruptions, training records, and written feedback process are available upon request, subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act ("FIPPA"). When providing these documents to a person with a disability, Wattpad will endeavour to provide the document, or the information contained in the document, in a format that takes the person's disability into account after engaging in a consultation with the individual requesting it. The provision of these documents to an individual who has requested them in an accessible/alternative format will be provided at the same cost or less than the regular cost charged to other persons. Notice of the availability of documents required by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service will be posted on Wattpad's website at: www.wattpad.com

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Administration

If you have any questions or concerns about this policy or its related procedures please contact: accessibility@wattpad.com

[1] See the definitions of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity in Schedule 1.

[2] Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter H.19, Section 10(1)(a-e), Service Ontario e-Laws, 2006, 03 April 2009

[3] Ontario Regulation 429/07, Section 4(9)(a-b)

[4] See Availability and Format of Documents section (page 8) for further information

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Schedule 1 - Wattpad Accessible Customer Service Principles

Dignity: The principle of respecting the dignity of a person with a disability means treating them as customers and clients who are as valued and as deserving of high quality and timely service as any other customer. Persons with disabilities are not treated as an afterthought or forced to accept lesser service, quality or convenience. The delivery of goods and services must take into account how persons with disabilities can effectively access and use them.

Independence: In some instances, independence means freedom from control or influence of others -- freedom to make one's own choices. In other situations, it may mean the freedom to do things in one's own way. People who may move or speak more slowly or differently must not be denied an opportunity to participate in a program or service because of this. Staff must allow persons with disabilities to take the time they need, without rushing them or taking over a task for them if someone prefers to do it themselves in their own way.

Integration: The provision of goods or services to persons with disabilities and others must be integrated to allow persons with disabilities to fully benefit from the same services, in the same place and in the same or similar way as other customers. Integration means that policies, programs and services including practices and procedures are designed to be accessible to everyone, including persons with disabilities.

Equal Opportunity: Equal opportunity means having the same chances, options, benefits and results as others. In the case of services it means that persons with disabilities have the same opportunity as others to obtain, use and benefit from the way goods or services are provided. They should not have to make significantly more effort to access or obtain services. They should also not have to accept lesser quality or more inconvenience.

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