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

Issue 29 | January 2023

A New Year brings Exciting new Movement Forward for Accessibility in Manitoba

The start of a New Year brings new opportunities to improve accessibility within the province. The Manitoba Accessibility Office remains committed to supporting all Manitobans in making our province more accessible and inclusive for everyone.

The New Year is also the perfect time to evaluate your organization’s commitment to accessibility. Keep up on your organization’s role and requirements under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act.

  • Have you updated your organization’s Accessibility Plan? Accessibility plans for 2023 and 2024 for Manitoba government and public sector organizations were due by Dec. 31, 2022. Learn more: accessibilitymb.ca/how-to-write.html

  • Did you know that the Accessibility Standard for Information and Communications is coming in force for the Manitoba government? Effective May 1, 2023, the Manitoba government must comply with this standard. Learn more: accessibilitymb.ca/standard-for-info-and-comms.html

  • Did you know that two additional standards are in the works? The Accessible Transportation and Design of Public Spaces (Outdoor) Standards are currently in development. Read future issues of Accessibility News for information about public consultations. Learn more: https://accessibilitymb.ca/law.html

  • Are you looking for additional training resources on the Accessible Customer Service and Accessible Employment Standards? Training modules are available on accessibilitymb.ca for both these topics. Access is completely free and training can be completed at anytime from anywhere. Learn more: https://accessibilitymb.ca/online-training.html

Additional important dates:

Manitoba Accessibility Fund Intake:

Engage Manitoba – Accessible Transportation:

The Manitoba Accessibility Office is hosting a Zoom webinar on March 22, 2023 from 1:30 – 3:30 pm to hear feedback on the proposed Accessible Transportation Standard. Join the conversation: Launch Meeting - Zoom

Manitoba Accessibility Awareness Dates:

  • National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) - May 28 to June 3, 2023

  • Manitoba Access Awareness Week (MAAW) - May 28 to June 3, 2023

  • Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) - Month of October

  • Indigenous Disability Awareness Month (IDAM) - Month of November

  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) - December 3, 2023

Stay tuned for other important announcements throughout the year.

Happy New Year.

Manitoba Government Accessibility Plan 2023 and 2024

The Manitoba Government Accessibility Plan (MGAP) for 2023 and 2024 is now available. This two-year plan supports improving accessibility in departments across government, and outlines specific actions to make government workplaces, products and services accessible to all Manitobans.

The MGAP will build upon and strengthen efforts underway through the following six priority areas:

  • Accessible Customer Service

  • Accessible Employment

  • Accessible Information and Communications

  • Enhanced Training and Education

  • Enhanced Accessibility of the Built Environment

  • Leadership in Advancing Accessibility

The Manitoba government is committed to ensuring equal access for persons with disabilities who are recipients of government services, as well as for employees. The government is also committed to the principle of inclusion, which involves the prevention and removal of barriers to maintain dignity and equity for all people.

Under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA), public sector organizations, including the Manitoba government, are required to update their accessibility plans every two years.

If you have questions about the MGAP, please contact accessibility@gov.mb.ca.

Manitoba Accessibility Fund

Second Intake of Manitoba Accessibility Fund Opens on January 30, 2023

The Manitoba Accessibility Fund will be launching the next intake of the grant program at the end of January. Project applications must propose activities and initiatives that either remove barriers, raise awareness, and/or support compliance with accessibility standards addressing customer service, employment, information and communications or The Accessibility for Manitoba Act.

The intake period opens on Monday, January 30, 2023 and closes on Friday, March 10, 2023.

Take note:

  • Eligible organizations can request up to a maximum of $50K to complete a project over a one-year term.

  • MAF does not fund capital projects or requests related to physical upgrades.

  • Each organization can submit one application per intake period. Organizations are able to be listed as project partners on submissions for other organizations.

  • MAF grant recipients from 2022 can submit an application, if it is a new project proposal.

  • All applicants need to complete a Project Budget Estimate Form and attach to the Application Form, which will be available on Monday January 30, 2023.

The MAF application guidelines, frequently asked questions, glossary of terms, application form and project budget estimate form will be available January 30 at: https://accessibilitymb.ca/fund.html.

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

Spotlight on Manitoba Accessibility Fund Projects: Hanover School Division:

Playground boards boost school accessibility– featured in The Carillon

Reprinted with permission from author, Nicole Buffie

At first glance, the newly installed, Plexiglas-clad panels scattered throughout school playgrounds in Hanover School Division may confuse some people. The photos and scant words on the boards, fastened to wooden posts, look like an instruction manual of sorts. To some, they are.

The double-sided boards, located near play structures at each school, are filled with tiles of photos, each of which describes an action, emotion, or item and the corresponding word.

Stacey Marcoux, a speech language pathologist in Hanover School Division, demonstrates a Core Board at Southwood School in Steinbach. The panels help nonverbal or minimally verbal students express their wants and needs on the playground.

The Core Boards, as they’re called, are easy to use: a student who needs to communicate but who has difficulty with traditional ways of doing so points to a tile to convey their want or need. Squares indicating ‘inside,’ ‘outside,’ ‘cold,’ or ‘hot’ help to say what can’t be said.

The boards are used by nonverbal or minimally verbal students on the playground when they don’t have the communication devices or placards they use in the classroom handy outside.

The concept of Core Boards is based on Proloquo2go, a computer program widely used by students with communication barriers who have difficulty with ‘core’ vocabulary and ‘fringe’ vocabulary.

“It changed everything,” said Stacey Marcoux, an HSD speech language pathologist.

Core Boards use images licensed from SymbolStyx, a series of photos with words attached help students who cannot express themselves because they live with speech or developmental delays or are simply too overcome with emotion to speak.

HSD has organizational funding to equip students who require communication devices like iPads with the Proloquo2go software. Marcoux said the dynamic system aids in bridging the gap between student and teacher during lessons and leisure time.

“It gives these students the opportunity to have a voice if they need it,” she said.

A 17-year employee of HSD, Marcoux was at the forefront of bringing the communication boards to the division.

Through four years and working with a parent whose child experienced communication difficulties, Macoux slowly put the pieces together on what would become HSD’s Core Boards.

It started with permission from the division to install five boards in a few playgrounds. However, the project stalled due to supply shortages owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The boards were put on the backburner.

Tiles depict actions, emotions, and other basic “core words” to reduce communication barriers for students with speech difficulties when they don’t have their classroom devices handy outside.

One year later, Marcoux applied for a provincial grant that supports accessibility initiatives in the province, netting over $30,000 for the project. HSD was one of 30 recipients and three school divisions to receive funding (neighbouring Border Land School Division received similar funding to install communication boards in 12 playgrounds at their schools).

Working with local companies in the area, 22 Core Boards were installed throughout HSD schools last week. All schools in the division, except Steinbach Regional Secondary School, Green Valley School, and Landmark Collegiate, have at least one board on their playground. Marcoux said the forthcoming elementary school to be built in Steinbach will have at least one board as well.

The playground communication devices are part of a larger initiative within HSD. The division’s 2022 Accessibility Plan Community Report outlines eight priorities within facilities and how the division handles their communications and publications.

Outcomes include online training for all staff on the importance of service and accessibility to be completed by June 2023, while other projects will see installations for deaf students, purchasing portable stage ramps, and constructing accessible paths on schoolgrounds.

For Marcoux and other clinical support staff in the division, the list to improve accessibility is long, but Core Boards cross a huge item off that list.

“Anything that we can do to help someone, whether it’s a child or an adult, that’s what we’re here for,” she said.

The Carillon, Posted: Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, Author: Nicole Buffie, Full Article: Playground boards boost school accessibility – The Carillon (winnipegfreepress.com)

Manitoba Government Names Inaugural Members of Intellectual Disability Issues Advisory Council

The Manitoba government has established the inaugural Intellectual Disability Issues Advisory (IDIA) Council to create a collaborative partnership with community stakeholders to better support Manitobans with an intellectual disability, Families Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for accessibility, announced today.

“Our government looks forward to the expertise and passion the new council will provide and the valuable role they will play in shaping programs and services for Manitobans with an intellectual disability and their families,” said Squires. “The council will provide the Department of Families with important insights about their lived experience in the field as we continue to work towards implementing the recommendations made by the Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Task Force.”

The creation of an advisory council was the number one recommendation of the task force.

The IDIA Council members are:

  • Maria Arentsen,

  • Jacqueline Leach,

  • Scott Smith,

  • Suzanne Swanton,

  • Joni Wilson,

  • Heidi Wurmann,

  • Valerie Wolbert, and

  • Evelyn Yelinek.

The council members were selected by eligible Manitobans that submitted applications and consist of representatives from service delivery organizations, disability advocacy organizations, families of people with an intellectual disability, Indigenous stakeholders, and two self-advocates.

“As an advocate, I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to speak for people with intellectual disabilities who aren’t able to speak for themselves,” said Valerie Wolbert, president, People First Manitoba. “I will work hard to ensure that the changes being made to the Vulnerable Persons Act will improve the lives of those who fall under this piece of legislation.”

“The establishment of the IDIA Council is a significant step forward in the implementation of the 81 recommendations from 16 areas of concern of the Pathways to Dignity: Rights, Safeguards, Planning and Decision Making report,” said Scott Smith, director of program development and quality assurance, Pulford Community Living Services. “Having community experience and expertise at the table will be critical in advising the recommendations to the legislation that affect the lives of 7,500 adults who live with an intellectual disability in Manitoba.”

Heidi Wurmann, assistant deputy minister, Department of Families, will chair the council. Inaugural council members will serve a two-year term.

For more information about the IDIA Council visit: www.gov.mb.ca/fs/idia.html.

In the News article:

“Accessible public transit linked to better health: study” featured on CTVnews.ca

The University College London, in England, released a new study that found that individuals who commute over 24 km outside of their community feel healthier than those who stay close to home. This research supports larger investments into better service roads and increased accessibility for public transit.

Read more about the study by visiting:

Accessibility Training: Squarely Social is offering a Accessible Social Media and Web Content Writing Class

This two-half day course is offered on February 15 and 16 from 9:00am to 12:00pm Central.

Writing accessible online content isn’t hard, but it does take knowledge, skills and practice. Accessibility isn’t something you do at the end of the writing process, it’s the completion of it, and something you think about from the very start.

You’ll learn practical ways to create accessible social media and web content to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1 AA) or higher over 2 half-day online sessions (6 hours total).

What you'll learn:

  • The principles of digital accessibility – what it is and what it means

  • What accessibility levels, standards and guidelines are and the requirements for meeting them

  • The accessibility features of web and social media platforms and how to use them

  • How to write accessible social media and website content, including implications for graphics and visuals

  • How to assess the accessibility of your current online content

  • The moral, legal and financial risks associated with creating inaccessible social media and website content

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