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Issue 36 – Manitoba Accessibility Fund Special Edition

Manitoba Accessibility Fund logo

The Manitoba Accessibility Fund grant program for 2023/24 is officially launched! During the second intake period, there was a growth in applications and interest from the community to learn about this new funding opportunity helping organizations make their spaces, activities, services, and ways of doing work more accessible for all.

This special edition of Accessibility News will share more about the launch and the projects that will be implemented over the course of the next year.

Minister Holds Successful Launch of Manitoba Accessibility Fund

Manitoba Accessibility launch event

The Honorable Rochelle Squires, Minister of Families and Minister responsible for Accessibility, formally announced the Manitoba Accessibility Fund (MAF) grant recipients for 2023/24 at a launch event held on July 12, 2023. The announcement took place at FortWhyte Alive, an accessible, inclusive venue immersed in nature in the vibrant Red River Valley.  

In her remarks, the minister explained that the MAF Endowment of $20 million and its grant program were created in response to frequent requests from community organizations for a source of funding to help them become more accessible and comply with existing standards under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act.

Minister Squires noted that the second MAF intake received over 160 applications from eligible organizations across Manitoba, including businesses, non-profit organizations, school divisions, post-secondary institutions, small and large municipalities and other public sector bodies. An independent selection committee of public servants, the majority of whom had lived experience with disability, assessed the submissions.

This year’s 42 grant recipients received funding totaling $890,000. Thirty-five of the 42 were new applicants and seven were second-time recipients, having previously received funding through MAF during the pilot year of the program.

According to grant recipient, Clint Curle, Executive Director of the Interlake Regional Library, the $27,900 grant will remove barriers to information and communication by making adaptive technology and 1.2 million book titles available to rural Manitobans with disabilities. Grant recipient, Liz Wilson, Executive Director from FortWhyte Alive stated that their $25,000 grant will enable them to work with the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities to conduct an accessibility audit to identify physical, visual, hearing and mobility barriers and make accessibility improvements based on universal design principles. Congratulations to all the 2023/24 MAF grant recipients!

The Manitoba government thanks the Winnipeg Foundation for managing the Manitoba Accessibility Fund. 

View a recording of the event: MAF grant launch 2023-24

Celebrating the 2023/24 Manitoba Accessibility Fund Grant Recipients

This year the Manitoba Accessibility Fund (MAF) is pleased to be able to award 42 grants to help make Manitoba more accessible. Supported initiatives include 26 non-profit organizations, six Manitoba businesses, five educational institutions, four municipalities and one health authority. Twenty-three projects will be implemented in smaller communities across the province. Of these, two directly serve Manitoba’s Francophone community, three focus on Manitoba’s Indigenous community and 16 are province-wide in scope. 

Grant recipients demonstrated their projects fulfill one or more objectives, based on the three accessibility standards currently in force:

  • raise awareness about the prevention and removal of accessibility barriers

  • develop tools, resources and training to support compliance with standards under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act

  • remove barriers to information and communication electronically, in print and in-person

MAF grant recipients are undertaking a variety of activities to improve accessibility this year. Projects include the creation of ASL and other video content, the development of toolkits and training modules, accessibility audits, website upgrades, accessibility features to enrich live theatre, accessible play spaces and communication boards for students requiring adaptive technology, and hearing enhancements to facilitate communication.

Group photo of Minister Rochelle Squires and several MAF 2023/24 grant recipients who  attended the launch event.

Group photo of Minister Rochelle Squires and several MAF 2023/24 grant recipients who attended the launch event.

Twenty MAF projects are described below. 

Perimeter Aviation LP: Business

This project aims to enhance the Perimeter Aviation website and implement visual paging in the Winnipeg terminal. Funding: $45,000.00

Red River North Counselling and Therapy Services (CTS) Inc.: Business

Using a human rights perspective and a disability lens, Red River North CTS Inc. plans to improve the accessibility of its services for individuals living in Manitoba’s Interlake area.  Funding: $44,142.50

Shift Accessibility: Business

This project will raise awareness about the prevention and removal of barriers within homes and businesses. Funding: $10,000.00

Rural Municipality of Woodlands: Municipality

This project will enable the municipality to purchase and install an induction hearing loop system in the reception area of the RM office.

Funding: $17,388.95

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority: Health Authority

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority will conduct an audit of website content to ensure compliance with WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards, and develop training for internal staff by providing them with web accessibility expertise to benefit their future work. Funding: $45,000.00

Assiniboine Community College: Education Institution

This project will address the information and communication needs of persons with disabilities by making assistive devices available in various settings, such as classrooms, lecture theatres, and public spaces and offering training on the use of these devices. Funding: $10,500.00

Université de Saint-Boniface: Education Institution

This project, Accompagnement d'accessibilité Web, is part of a larger web development project to redesign, migrate and enhance a new website. Funding: $11,175.00

Centre for Human Rights Research (University of Manitoba): Education Institution

This project will develop a fully accessible website for the Centre for Human Rights Research at the University of Manitoba, to remove barriers to human rights-based information and communications for the general public, policymakers, and for U of M students, staff, and faculty.

Funding: $10,000.00

River East Transcona School Division: Education Institution

In partnership with Allyant (specializing in offering equitable access to digital, document and printed information for people with disabilities), River East Transcona School Division will perform a website audit. 

Funding: $10,000.00

Red River College Polytechnic: Education Institution

This project will enhance accessibility by engaging consultants to conduct an environmental scan to identify leading practices related to developing accessible instructional and informational materials. Funding: $10,000.00

Transportation Options for Seniors (TONS) Inc.: Non-Profit Organization

In partnership with the Independent Living Resource Centre, TONS will collaborate on a project to reduce barriers faced by rural accessible transportation program volunteers, drivers and board members. 

Funding: $14,465.00

Independent Living Resource Centre: Non-Profit Organization

This project will support the accessibility of four community partner agencies, including Sara Riel Inc., through a “collaborative audit” process, addressing (physical) work/public spaces, digital/print information, websites, emergency procedures and customer service policies. Funding: $24,500.00

The Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres Inc.: Non-Profit Organization

This project will develop and distribute an accessibility policy toolkit to friendship centres across the province to promote equal access for persons with disabilities. Funding: $31,283.67

Artbeat Studio Inc.: Non-Profit Organization

This project will create a set of employment resources and tools needed to successfully include people with disabilities in the workplace, based on lived experience and best practices. Funding: $10,000.00

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB): Non-Profit Organization

This project will build inclusive communities using a participant-led awareness and education strategy to promote new accessible solutions and best practices to support the inclusion of people living with long-term sight loss. Funding: $10,000.00

Career Connections Inc.: Non-Profit Organization

This project will raise awareness through the creation of videos of success stories both from client and employer perspectives. Funding: $44,995.00

La Maison des artistes visuels francophones inc.: Non-Profit Organization

This project will create accessible communications for programming by developing QR codes linked to texts in both official languages, as well as an audio version of the texts. Funding: $18,000.00

CoHabit, a housing initiative of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba: Non-Profit Organization

This project will produce an accessible information document called, "Guidelines for Planning and Building an Inclusive Community", outlining best practice solutions for accessible residential environments, including day-programming for persons with disabilities, and develop equitable employment opportunities. Funding: $22,545.00

Portage La Prairie Regional Library: Non-Profit Organization

The library will upgrade offerings for visually impaired individuals, including training to help employees and caregivers. Funding: $10,532.56

New Directions for Children, Youth Adults and Families Inc.: Non-Profit Organization

This project will pilot supports for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals and staff that includes interpretation and dual interpretation services in therapy services, workshops, ASL training for staff and translation of the New Directions Operations Manual into ASL. Funding: $15,000.00

In the News:

The Portage la Prairie Regional Library will be receiving $10,532.56 to upgrade services for the visually impaired. The money comes from the Manitoba Accessibility Fund (MAF) as the library will be one of 42 recipients splitting a total of $890,000. Director of the library Jen Kendall says they'll be buying Daisy Readers, which will help patrons listen to materials from the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA).

Read the full article

The Manitoba government is providing more than $890,000 through the Accessibility Fund to support 42 projects across the province to help remove barriers for people with disabilities, Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced on Wednesday.

Read the full article

A total of 59 Manitoba organizations were selected to receive the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) small projects component.

Read the full article

Read the backgrounder

In celebration of National Access Ability Week 2023, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced the Government of Canada’s investment through the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) mid-sized projects component to support infrastructure accessibility projects led by 14 organizations, to help increase the social participation and labor market opportunities of persons with disabilities.

Read the full article

Read the backgrounder