Header for Accessibility News - What you need to know about Manitoba's accessibility laws.

Issue 27 | November 2022

Learn How to Create Accessible Documents

Accessible communication is essential, and one of the important ways we can ensure that all Manitobans can access information and communication is by providing accessible documents.

The Accessible Information and Communication Standard Regulation is legislated under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA). Enacted on May 1, 2022, this legislation sets the standards for accessing information in person or in print, on websites or in other formats. The standard also includes provisions for training relevant staff who may produce communications.

The Public Service Commission and The Department of Families encourages you to learn how to create accessible documents, through the Manitoba Accessibility Office Website, or if you are a public servant you can register in the Learning Management System for one or more of these upcoming half day sessions:

  • Creating Accessible Digital Office Documents Using MS Word

  • Creating Accessible Digital Office Documents Using Adobe Acrobat Pro

Thank you for working together to remove barriers to information and communication, and advancing accessibility throughout Manitoba.

Stay Tuned! Exciting News and Updates on:

  • The two new Accessibility Standards Public Consultations on;

    • Accessible Transportation - January/February 2023

    • Design of Outdoor Public Spaces - March/April 2023

  • Manitoba Accessibility Fund Updates and Upcoming Intakes in January to March 2023

  • Manitoba Government’s Accelerated Adoption of the 2020 Standards for National Building, Plumbing, Fire and Energy Codes and what this means for Accessibility in Manitoba

Logo for Internattional Day of Persons with Disabilities 3 December

The Government of Manitoba celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities annually on December 3rd and this year Minister Squires has proclaimed it in perpetuity.

The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Today, the world population is over 7 billion people and more than one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world's population, live with some form of disability, with 80% living in developing countries.

Evidence and experience show that when barriers are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate, the whole community benefits. When societies put a priority on accessibility and inclusion, the result is progress for everyone.

For 2022, the Manitoba Accessibility Office and Manitoba Employment Equity Practitioners Association are pleased to be co-hosting an online celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

IDPD 2022 Event Poster

How to Celebrate International Day of Disabled Persons 2022 in the Workplace

Images of various people with different disabilities

The theme for 2022 International Day of Persons with Disabilities is ‘Not All Disabilities are Visible’. Some disabilities, like mental health disorders, chronic pain and fatigue, are invisible – but that does not make them any less devastating to someone’s quality of life.

This year, include invisible disabilities in your inclusion initiatives to recognize this important day;

Host a Training Session

The best way to ignite meaningful change in your workplace is to host a disability training session. Anyone can be affected by a disability, so it is important to ensure all employees understand the importance of accessibility to cultivate an inclusive culture.

5 Benefits of Disability Awareness Training:

1. Improve Customer Service: Employees who recognize different conditions will better serve your customers, who may have such disorders.

2. Learn the Legal Requirements: Reduce the risk of legal implications or unfair treatment by learning about the Accessibility Manitoba Act (AMA), and all the accessibility standards in Manitoba.

3. Encourage Open Communication: Disabled people live with their conditions every day, so training can supply wellbeing support through open communication.

4. Transform Perceptions: Reduce unconscious bias and misinformation through an informative training session, which informs your able-bodied staff.

5. Validate Disabled Staff: A training session shows disabled employees that their feelings, experiences, and struggles are valid.

Recognize Neurodiversity

One of the most common invisible disabilities, it is vital to recognize neurodiversity in your workplace. These people uniquely view the world, as their brains are wired differently from their able-bodied counterparts. Neurodiversity speakers regularly attend corporate events to promote the many strengths of neurodiversity and dismantle the stigma.

What is Neurodiversity?

Examples of neurodiversity include:

  • ADHD

  • Autism

  • Dyspraxia

  • Dyslexia

  • Dyscalculia

  • Dysgraphia

  • Tourette’s Syndrome

Improve Accessibility & Inclusion

In the workplace, several common hurdles can prevent disabled employees from performing at their best. From wheelchair ramps to screen readers, and braille signage to accessible toilets, it is important to cater to employees of all abilities and consider how your workplace may impact a disabled person. On this International Day of Disabled Persons, create an accessible environment for everyone on your team.

Examples of Accessibility in the Workplace

  • Wheelchair Ramps/Lifts

  • Quiet Rooms for Noise Sensitivity

  • Braille Signage

  • Adaptive Desks & Chairs

  • Invest in Digital Accessibility Tools

Evidence and experience show that when barriers are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate, the whole community benefits. When societies put a priority on accessibility and inclusion, the result is progress for everyone.

The Manitoba government proclaims the month of November as Indigenous Disability Awareness Month to bring awareness to the barriers and issues that Indigenous peoples living with disabilities and their families face. We celebrate their achievements, and we recognize the valuable social, economic, and cultural contributions Indigenous peoples with disabilities make to our province.

Indigenous peoples of Canada experience a disability rate significantly higher than that of the general population. Indigenous Disability Awareness Month (IDAM) brings awareness of these barriers and the issues that Indigenous peoples living with disabilities and their families face every day. More importantly though, in spite of these barriers, IDAM celebrates the achievements of Indigenous peoples living with disabilities and recognize the significant and valuable contributions they make to our communities socially, economically, and culturally every day.

This year, you can recognize IDAM by:

  • Promoting Indigenous Disability Canada’s Support for Indigenous Student Learning Program (SISLP) for Indigenous students across Canada who have limited financial resources, including those living with disabilities. The SISLP is accepting applications from students of any age enrolled in a formal educational institution (online, remote, or through on-site learning) to be considered to receive a laptop and other technology/equipment supports necessary to assist with their continued education and success. BCANDS is accepting applications until March 15, 2023.

  • Join an Employee Network Group to connect with communities of public servants:

    • Civil Servants with Abilities Network (CSWAN) supports employees with disabilities and advances diversity and inclusion.

    • Touchstone is a group of employees of Indigenous heritage who provide support and connection among Indigenous public servants, and facilitate learning opportunities.

The Aboriginal People With Disabilities Program provides assistance to urban Aboriginal people with disabilities with customized services including access to employment or training programs, and referrals to outside agencies in the City of Winnipeg with disability programs and services.

Employment Counsellors offer such services as:

  • In-house counselling

  • Referrals to employment or training services and programs

  • Local resources to other disabilities services and programs

  • Assistance with identifying employment goals

  • Job preparation and resume assistance

Aboriginal Disabled Self-Help Group (ADSHG)

In addition, this program works closely in conjunction with the Aboriginal Disabled Self-Help Group (ADSHG), a group founded in 1996 to deal specifically with the issues that Aboriginal people with disabilities face on a day-to-day basis. Offering advice and consultation to CAHRD, the group takes a leadership role in bringing greater awareness to the needs of individuals with disabilities from the Aboriginal community of Winnipeg.

ADSHG Goals and Objectives:

  • To establish contact with Aboriginal people with disabilities in Winnipeg and encourage them to join the Aboriginal Disabled Self-Help Group.

  • To strive to make positive changes for Aboriginal people with disabilities in employment, training, and/or education.

  • To provide information on services offered to Aboriginal people with disabilities and to provide culturally appropriate and recreational events for Aboriginal people with disabilities.

By conducting information and awareness sessions with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups, agencies and organizations, the ADSHG will enhance the profile of the Aboriginal Disabled Self-Help Group and the Aboriginal People with Disabilities Program.

Manitoba Accessibility Fund 2023 – 2024

The Manitoba government is currently planning a second intake of the Manitoba Accessibility Fund for early 2023. Please stay tuned for more details!

Relevant information about the MAF grant program for 2023-24 and how to apply will be made available online at: https://accessibilitymb.ca/fund.html.

Please contact MAF@gov.mb.ca, if you have additional questions.

Spotlight on Manitoba Accessibility Fund Projects: Arts Accessibility Network Manitoba and Shakespeare in the Ruins

Over the coming months, the MAO will be spotlighting the 30 projects that received grants through the Manitoba Accessibility Fund (MAF). The MAF endowment of $20 million and its grant program were created in response to frequent requests from community organizations and businesses for funding assistance to help improve the accessibility of their services and comply with standards under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act. This edition, we are focusing on two non-profit arts organizations: Arts Accessibility Network Manitoba (AANM) and Shakespeare in the Ruins (SIR).

Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba (AANM)

Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba (AANM) is a non-profit, artist-run, charitable organization dedicated to the full inclusion of artists and audiences with disabilities in all facets of the arts community. According to Jenel Shaw, AANM’s executive director, a majority of AANM’s board of directors, staff and volunteers (including artists) are people with disabilities.

In an introductory video on the AANM website, Jenel Shaw states: “AANM assist artists in achieving individual artistic excellence, promotes higher visibility of artists with disabilities within all disciplines, and promotes policies and practices intended to make the arts more accessible to all Manitobans.” AANM provides professional development for artists, acts as an advocate to combat physical and social barriers, and provides information about accessibility to other arts organizations.

On October 29, 2022, more than 60 people gathered in-person at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) to take part in a hybrid live and virtual event called Crip Strength: A Celebration of Deaf and Disability Art and Culture. The event provided attendees and performers with an occasion to experience and celebrate the work of various artists with disabilities through art forms that included comedy, dance, music, spoken word, and a juried exhibition of visual art. To view an exhibition of the juried art featured at Crip Strength, you can visit Mentoring Arts for Women’s Art, 611 Main Street until December 2, 2022.

Prior to the event, AANM created an online and printed access guide for attendees using grant funding from the Manitoba Accessibility Fund. The Crip Strength access guide reduced accessibility barriers by ensuring that all participants were aware of accessibility features of the event and the CMHR. Information in the guide also included how to get to the location, how to access Crip Strength through virtual platforms, the agenda and activities, names and biographical statements about the performers/speakers and a glossary of terms and concepts.

The access guide is available on AANM’s website at http://www.aanm.ca. It is available as an accessible PDF and a series of American Sign Language videos. AANM plans to create access guides for all of their large events. Jenel Shaw recommends the production of accessible guides as a great strategy for other organizations.

During an interview with MAO staff about the event, Jenel Shaw noted that attendees found the glossary particularly helpful in identifying words used in conversation, event performances and everyday life. For example, several speakers and performers described the term “able-ism – the intentional or unintentional prejudice against people with disabilities” and how it has been experienced in their lives. Going forward, AANM will be providing anti-ableism training to community organizations, including Artists for Women’s Art and the Manitoba Arts Council.

Shakespeare in the Ruins (SIR)

For the 2022 season Shakespeare in the Ruins (SIR) launched a number of accessibility initiatives with support from the Manitoba Accessibility Fund. For the first time ever SIR was able to offer patrons a free, accessible, bus charter from downtown Winnipeg to the Ruins on pay-what-you-can Tuesdays; ASL interpretation and live audio description of selected performances; relaxed performances and “In the Grove” shows, a pair of stationary matinees staged under the trees for people for whom the promenade experience is a barrier.

According to general manager, Sara Malabar, of all of these initiatives, perhaps the most challenging and rewarding was providing ASL interpretation, a service that involved several thousand dollars, four interpreters, two deaf consultants, one week of rehearsal and countless hours of research by the amazing team at Performing Arts Accessibility Hub. Though it was a challenging project, it was a thrill to make the SIR shows truly accessible to deaf patrons for the first time.

SIR's commitment to accessible live theatre doesn't only include services, but discount tickets for people living on a fixed income and free tickets for support persons. SIR wants to ensure as many people as possible can experience the magic of live theatre, no matter their income level or ability. To find our more about accessibility services at Shakespeare in the Ruins, please visit: https://shakespeareintheruins.com/accessibility

Disability Employment Awareness Month (October 2022)

Webinars now available online

On behalf of the Public Service Commission, and our Employee Network groups, Civil Servants with Abilities Network (CSWAN) and the New Professionals Network (NPN), thank you to everyone who attended the webinars in recognition of Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) with guest speaker, Wayne Tuttle. It was an honour to learn from Wayne about breaking down accessibility barriers and the importance of focusing on people’s abilities.

Webinar recordings are available on the Diversity and Inclusion Unit's webpage. Please watch the webinars and share the links with your colleagues.

Opinion: All Manitobans deserve to live with dignity, By: Josh Brandon, Winnipeg Free Press - Posted: Monday, Oct. 31, 2022