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

Issue 35 | July 2023

Accessible Customer Service Makes Summer Inclusive

Summer is finally upon us in Manitoba, providing us with an opportunity to take advantage of the warmer weather. With that comes the long-awaited summer activities enjoyed by all Manitobans. Whether it’s a music festival, patio, shopping or a vacation, making sure your business or event offers Accessible Customer Service is good for everyone and has been the law in Manitoba since 2015.

Know Your Role in Providing Excellent Accessible Customer Service

Under the Accessible Customer Service Standard all Manitoba organizations with at least one employee (including businesses) must create policies and procedures that help achieve respectful, barrier-free customer service. This includes providing the following accommodations to your customers:

  • meeting the communication needs of your customers, clients or members

  • allowing assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers and oxygen tanks

  • welcoming support people, who are there to assist

  • welcoming people with service animals

  • ensuring accessibility is maintained as intended (ramps, wide aisles, removal of clutter)

  • letting customers know when accessible features and services are not available

  • inviting your customers to provide feedback

  • training your staff on accessible customer service, including reasonable accommodations under The Human Rights Code (Manitoba)

  • large employers with 50 employees or more must document (in-print) their customer service policy

  • large employers with 50 employees or more must also provide notice that their customer service policy is available in accessible formats, on request

Ensuring that your business follows these practices allows everyone the opportunity to enjoy summer activities and everyday life.

Read more about Accessible Customer Service.              

AccessibilityMB.ca Gets a New Look

The Manitoba Accessibility Office is happy to announce that the refreshed AccessibilityMB.ca website is now live. 

This newly redesigned website features improved navigation and easy access to essential information on The Accessibility for Manitobans Act and its standards. The website is also accessible and complies with the new Accessible Information and Communication Standard. The site is compatible with a wide variety of communications support devices and technologies. It features accessible PDF documents, easier to-read, larger fonts, improved colour contrast and descriptive text on photo elements, among several other accessibility features. 

We invite you to visit the new site and share your feedback on the new look.

If you have any questions or concerns about this new website or have issues accessing any information, please email mao@gov.mb.ca

Manitoba Sends Delegate to the 16th United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Manitoba Accessibility Office had the privilege of sending a representative on behalf of the province as part of a Canadian delegation to the 16th Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  

Executive Director, Darren Macdonald, from the Manitoba Accessibility Office, joined the other Canadian delegates led by the Honorable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. This three-day conference took place June 13-15, 2023 in New York.

The conference’s theme focused on harmonizing national policies and strategies with the CRPD: achievements and challenges. The conference also featured three sub-themes:

  1. Ensuring equal access to and accessibility of sexual and reproductive health services for persons with disabilities

  2. Digital accessibility for persons with disabilities

  3. Reaching the under-represented groups of persons with disabilities

“This was an exciting opportunity to learn about accessibility issues on a global level and take the lessons learned back to apply them to the work we are doing here in Manitoba” – Darren Macdonald, the Manitoba Accessibility Office.

In 2013, Manitoba was the second province, following Ontario to enact Accessibility legislation. Manitoba continues to take steps forward to becoming a more accessible province. The newly enacted Accessible Information and Communication Standard addresses the removal of barriers relating to accessing information provided in print, in person and on websites and complements the Customer Service and Accessible Employment standards already in force within the province. Manitoba remains committed to making the province more accessible for all.

Learn more about this convention, visit the Conference Website.

Celebrate Disability Pride Month this July

Disability Pride Month is recognized each July as a movement of empowerment and visibility for people with disabilities. Although, not formally recognized in Canada, many community members and advocates take this time to reflect and speak out against societal barriers.

Disability Pride Month recognizes how society treats people with disabilities, while reflecting on the multiple intersecting identities within the community. These cross-sections are represented in the Disability Pride Month flag, created by Ann Magill, a disabled woman who further refined the flag in 2021, based on feedback from the disability community.

The symbolism of the Disability Pride Month flag:

  • The Black Field: Mourning for those who've suffered and died from ableist violence.

  • The Zigzag Band: Recognizing how disabled people must move around barriers and the creative ways in which they do so.

  • The Five Colors: Representing the variety of disabilities, needs and experiences, including Mental Illness, Neurodiversity, Invisible and Undiagnosed Disabilities, Physical Disability and Sensory Disabilities.

  • The Parallel Stripes: Forming solidarity within the disability community, despite differences.

Disability Pride Month and the many cross-sections presented in the Disability Pride flag advocate for an inclusive society that ensures barrier-free accessibility for everyone.

Manitoba Taking Steps to Align with the National Building, Plumbing, Fire and Energy Codes

The Manitoba government is taking another step forward to update Manitoba’s codes that oversee building, plumbing, fire and energy codes, Labour and Immigration Minister Jon Reyes announced on June 5, 2023.

“The 2020 national model codes are key to Manitoba industry and affect a number of businesses, particularly in the areas of accessibility and energy efficiency,” said Reyes. “These codes affect the province’s trade relations, industry costs and economic competitiveness, so our government is working hard to consult with Manitobans to ensure we are reflecting the best interests of industry.”

Due to Manitoba’s commitments under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, the Manitoba Building Code, Manitoba Plumbing Code, Manitoba Energy Code and Manitoba Fire Code must be updated regularly to ensure compliance with the latest health and safety standards.

In June, the Manitoba government obtained final public and industry feedback on plans to adopt the 2020 model building codes earlier than mandated under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, bypassing the 2015 edition. The 2020 editions will bring Manitoba under the most current building codes faster, in line with other provinces.

Updating the codes earlier than mandated and providing sufficient notice of an early 2024 adoption will give industry time to gain familiarity with the new codes and will be an important step forward in harmonizing codes with other provinces, the minister said.

The proposed plan is to have the 2020 model codes come into effect for industry in early 2024.

View the National Codes.

Spotlight on Manitoba Accessibility Fund Projects

The Manitoba Accessibility Fund is truly improving accessibility across the province. This month’s spotlight projects include Access Changes Everything Inc. and Communication Access to Justice. These featured projects were funded during the pilot year of the program.

Access Changes Everything Inc.

In 2016, Lisa Snider founded Access Changes Everything, a Canadian digital accessibility consulting company. For over 20 years, Lisa’s passion in life has been making the digital world more accessible for people with disabilities. Lisa shares her knowledge with clients through digital accessibility training, courses, presentations, auditing with people with disabilities, remediation, and facilitation.

With support from the Manitoba Accessibility Fund, Lisa Snider conducted the Business Online Accessibility for People with Disabilities in Manitoba survey, from December 2022 to January 2023. The survey asked Manitobans with disabilities and organizations or individuals who provide support to share their lived experiences with online interactions with Manitoba businesses.

The survey charted the overall accessibility of Manitoba businesses online, in terms of what businesses did well, and areas of improvement. The survey results were used to form the “Quick Start Guide to Digital Accessibility for Manitoba Businesses”, offered for free to Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce members. Both the survey and guide were First Voice, and this was very important for the success of this project.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce has agreed to make the guide available for free on Access Changes Everything’s website for all businesses in Manitoba, at https://www.accesschangeseverything.com/business-online-accessibility-for-people-with-disabilities-in-manitoba-survey/.This will be the legacy of this project, as it will allow this work to be used for years to come.

For more information, please visit the Access Changes Everything website at accesschangeseverything.com.

Communication Access to Justice

Communication Access to Justice (CAJust) is a national non-profit organization that promotes access to the justice system for people who have speech, language and/or cognitive disabilities. In addition, CAJust also trains, supports, and publishes a national list of Communication Intermediaries (CIs). CIs are individuals eligible to be registered speech language pathologists (SLPs), who are trained to facilitate two-way communication between individuals with communication disabilities and justice professionals.

As neutral officers of the court, CIs provides the accommodations needed for individuals with communication disabilities to have equitable access to legal, police, corrections, and justice services in Canada. One way in which CAJust can support the work of CIs is by developing the materials and resources that they need when working in a justice setting. Through the generous funding provided by the Manitoba Accessibility Fund, CAJust commissioned a set of visuals depicting common vocabulary used in the justice setting.

These visuals will be used by CIs as a part of accommodations to allow individuals with communication disabilities to provide their best evidence in the justice system. For example, take a young woman with an intellectual disability who would like to report an assault to police. Police may ask questions using vocabulary the young woman does not understand. The CIs can use the visual resources (funded by MAF) that correspond to the officer’s vocabulary to allow the young woman to understand the questions being asked.

The first version of these visual resources will be released to CIs registered with CAJust in the coming weeks. While many different stakeholders were consulted to get feedback on the visual resource before completing the project, ongoing feedback will continue to be solicited as the new resources are used in police stations, hearings, correctional facilities, and courtrooms. Thus, these resources will continue to grow to ensure that Manitobans with communication disabilities have equitable access to the justice system.

In the News:

Canada is steps closer to a new Canada Disability Benefit. The federal government’s Bill C-22 passed Parliament on Tuesday, June 20. This bill proposes a federal income supplement for low-income, working-age people with disabilities and is modeled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement. The bill is likely to receive royal assent in the next few days.

Read the full article

Premier Heather Stefanson formally apologized in the Manitoba legislature on Thursday, June 1, 2023 to the former residents of the Manitoba Development Centre. The Portage la Prairie facility open in 1890 and was one of the country’s last large institutional facilities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Read the full article

CBC/Radio-Canada launch their National Accessibility Plan. This three-year plan provides a framework for how the national public broadcaster plans to better serve people with disabilities, better represent them in their content and become a more accessible broadcaster for Canadians. 

Read the full article

Share Your Feedback:

Engage Winnipeg - Transit Plus No-Show and Late Cancellation Policy

The City of Winnipeg would like to hear your feedback on the proposed changes to Winnipeg Transit Plus. The proposed policy changes aim to increase services by addressing its no-show or late cancellation policies.

To share your feedback or to learn more about the proposed changes to Winnipeg Transit Plus, visit Engage Winnipeg.

Accessibility Standards Canada – Outdoor spaces: Public Review Draft

Accessibility Standards Canada has released its accessibility standard on outdoor spaces for public review. This standard envisions inclusive and barrier-free outdoor spaces that benefit all Canadians.

To review the draft accessibility standard on outdoor spaces and to share your feedback, visit Accessibility Standard Canada.  


Apply to Become a Youth Accessibility Leader

The federal government is looking to engage with young Canadians to help make Canada more accessible for people with disabilities by promoting its Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF). This opportunity is open to youth between the ages of 15-30, who are determine to make a difference in their community, while wanting to develop valuable skills and gain key experiences.

To learn more about the Government of Canada Youth Innovation Component of the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) or to apply for this opportunity, visit Canada.ca.

Awareness Dates:

  • Disability Pride Month: July 1-31