Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Policy

Equality Fund’s Multi-Year Accessibility Plan (2023-2028)

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

 

Statement of Commitment and Introduction:

Equality Fund believes in equality and shifting power, and is committed to providing a barrier-free environment to ensure equal access, opportunity and participation that allows all people to maintain their independence and dignity. Equality Fund respects and strives to uphold the requirements set forth under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005) and any other accessibility laws, regulations and standards. As a remote, global organization with offices in Canada, Equality Fund is dedicated to ensuring accessibility for people of all abilities. Equality Fund recognizes women, girls, trans, intersex, and nonbinary persons with disabilities as integral voices in gender equality discussions, not just in relation to disability justice discourse. Where feasible, Equality Fund involves women, girls, trans, intersex, and nonbinary persons with disabilities in the planning and building of accessibility protocols and policies. We strive to continually improve the user experience for everyone, and we are committed to making our organization accessible and inclusive. We commit to providing support, accessibility, and accommodation requests to all staff, stakeholders, grantee partners, and guests in the Equality Fund offices, remote environment and at all Equality Fund hosted events.

As part of Equality Fund’s commitment to meeting its obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), we have developed this Multi-Year Plan which outlines our strategy to prevent and remove barriers and meet our requirements under our existing AODA policy.

Our Commitment Includes:

  1. Accessibility in Services: Equality Fund is dedicated to ensuring that all our services are accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes our physical locations, digital platforms, and any other means through which we engage with our community. Equality Fund aims to meet the needs of people with disabilities in all our processes and services. Our commitment is to provide access to clients, staff, contractors, volunteers, grantee partners, donors and any person that receives any services or employment through EF.
  2. Compliance with AODA: Equality Fund is committed to meeting the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and its regulations. This accessibility plan outlines the steps we are taking to meet those requirements and to improve opportunities for people with disabilities. At Equality Fund we understand that accessibility is an ever-evolving process that requires conscious effort and constant evaluation, therefore, this plan is reviewed and updated at least once every 5 years by our People, Equity and Culture, Finance and Operations, Communications, and Information Technology departments. Equality Fund will continually review and update our policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the standards set forth by AODA.
  3. Accessibility in Employment: Equality Fund is committed to offering equal employment opportunities and responding respectfully and with care to any accommodation requests throughout any stage of our recruitment processes to the point of undue hardship. As well as we strive to meet the needs of our employees with disabilities to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility, and provide accommodations to the point of undue hardship.
  4. Training and Awareness: We believe that continuing education is a key component of creating an inclusive environment. Equality Fund staff is provided with training on accessibility best practices to foster a culture that prioritizes inclusion.
  5. Web Accessibility: Equality Fund is actively working towards conforming to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 at the AA level; and where full AA level is not achievable EF offers plain text PDF alternatives that are viewable by screen readers and other assistive devices. Our goal is to provide a seamless and accessible experience for all users, including those with disabilities.
  6. Technological Advancements: Equality Fund commits to staying informed about technological advancements annually and to ensuring our digital platforms remain accessible as new technologies emerge.
  7. Accessibility Feedback: Equality Fund welcomes feedback on the accessibility of our services. We encourage individuals to share their experiences and suggestions to help us improve and address any barriers. If you encounter any accessibility barriers on our digital platforms, or in any of our physical locations, please let us know, and we will strive to address the issue promptly. Questions can be directed to [email protected].
  8. Continuous Improvement: Accessibility is an ongoing commitment, and Equality Fund is dedicated to continually improving our practices. We will regularly assess our policies, procedures, and infrastructure to identify areas for enhancement.

SECTION 1: ACHIEVEMENTS TO REMOVE AND PREVENT BARRIERS

Equality Fund continues to ensure the following accessibility initiatives:

Customer Service

  • Telephone and Electronic Services: Equality Fund commits to providing fully accessible telephone and electronic (email) service to stakeholders. Equality Fund Staff will offer to communicate with stakeholders by email if telephone communication is not suitable to their communication needs or is unavailable. Key staff will be identified and trained in basic accessibility standards such as speaking in plain language, articulation and speed.
  • Tax Receipts: Equality Fund commits to providing accessible tax receipts to donors. Tax receipts will be provided in the following formats upon request: hard copy or e-mailed soft copy.
  • Service Animals and Support Persons: Equality Fund commits to welcoming and providing services to people with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal or who require a support person on Equality Fund rental premises or during any Equality Fund organized events. Where feasible, Equality Fund will provide honorariums for invited guests/speakers/staff at Equality Fund hosted events who require Service Animals and/or Support Persons.
  • Venues & Events: Equality Fund commits to ensuring accessible venues for all EF-organized in-person gatherings and events. This may include ramps, accessible doors, elevators, accessible and gender-inclusive bathrooms, and a quiet/private space for people who may need to step away from a crowded or loud room. These requirements must be confirmed by the venue before any commitment is made, a deposit is paid, or contract signed. Equality Fund also commits to an accessible and inclusive registration process for all EF-organized events and gatherings, this includes a space for attendees to share their accessibility requirements.
  • Notice of Temporary Service Disruption: Equality Fund commits to providing stakeholders with notice in the event of a planned or unexpected disruption in the facilities or services usually used by people with disabilities. This notice will include information about the reason for the disruption and its anticipated duration, and a description of alternative facilities or services, if available.
  • Feedback System: Feedback regarding the way Equality Fund provides services to people with disabilities can be provided by sending an e-mail to [email protected].

Information and Communications

EF is committed to the information and communication standards under the AODA.

  • Communication: Upon request, EF shall inform its stakeholders of the availability of accessible formats and communication support. EF shall consult with the person making the request and provide, in a timely manner, accessible formats and communication support considering the person’s disability. Where information or communications cannot be provided in an accessible format or with communication support, EF will provide an explanation.
  • Equality Fund commits to having closed captioning and ASL at all open virtual meetings and events. For closed meetings, closed captioning and ASL will be offered in advance and provided upon request.
  • Equality Fund commits to language interpretation and translated materials where appropriate to the audience.
  • Equality Fund commits to accommodating in-person and virtual spaces for neurodiverse persons as well as people with psychosocial disabilities. This includes where possible, sharing meeting agendas in advance, guidance that includes encouragement to step away or turn off screens when needed, quiet spaces for participants to use, and encouraging regular breaks in and out of meetings.
  • Accessible Websites and Web Content: Websites and web content controlled directly by Equality Fund will conform to the AODA legislative requirements. Equality Fund is currently WCAG 2.0 Compliant. Videos produced by EF that are featured on EF’s website and social media will include closed captioning
  • All major publications will include messaging that plain-text and screen-friendly versions are available upon request (ex: The Annual Report)
  • Emergency Procedures, Plans, and Information: Equality Fund will provide in a timely manner, upon request, any existing public emergency procedures, plans and public safety information relating to its premises in an accessible format or with appropriate communication support.

Employment

  • Hiring process: Equality Fund offers an opportunity for candidates to disclose their accommodation requirements during the recruitment process. We ensure interviewees know we offer accommodations by including accommodation and inclusion statements in job advertisements. We send another reminder when inviting job applicants to participate in the selection process and when offering a job to a successful applicant and at the Human Resources (HR) orientation once hired.
  • Work flexibility: Equality Fund provides employees the flexibility to work remotely on a flexible schedule where one can take breaks and/or attend personal appointments as they see fit. We offer a generous sick leave policy including 15 sick days per fiscal year.

Training

  • Mandatory AODA training as per the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is provided for each staff member as a part of the onboarding process. We maintain records of the training provided including the dates on which the training was provided and the number of individuals to whom it was provided.

SECTION 2: STRATEGIES AND ACTIONS

Feminist Accessibility Protocol Commitments

Customer Service

  • Equality Fund is committed to providing accessible customer service to people with disabilities. This means that we will provide services and facilities to people with disabilities with the same high quality and timeliness as others. Equality Fund will continue to implement a training program to all employees.

Information and Communications

  • Equality Fund is committed to making our information and communications accessible to people with disabilities.
    • Ensure the website is WCAG 2.1 compliant. Equality Fund will continue to work with external vendors to maintain web accessibility standards on an ongoing basis.
    • Ensure alt-text and image descriptions are used on all social posts, and subtitles are included in all shared videos and recordings.
    • Ensure open virtual meetings and events have closed captioning and ASL.
    • Ensure in-person gatherings and events are held in accessible venues.

Budgeting & Procurement

  • Equality Fund commits to using disability-inclusive budgeting in all event planning, this includes considering budget requests for support persons and personal assistants, accommodation needs, and honorariums where honorariums are offered.
  • Equality Fund is committed to fair and accessible procurement practices. We commit to updating our procurement policy guidelines to include AODA requirements. We will ensure our Procurement Policy will be updated to include the following:
    • Where the deliverables and/or services are intended for use by EF’s members or members of the public, such deliverables and/or services shall comply with the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service, Ontario Regulation 429/07 and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Ontario Regulation 191/11 Part II, Information and Communications Standards, including the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, in relation to any information or communications services that are provided for use by its members or members of the public.

Training

  • Equality Fund is committed to providing training in the requirements of Ontario’s accessibility laws and the Ontario Human Rights Code as it applies to people with disabilities.
    • Continue to ensure every new staff member has completed AODA training.
    • Completion of training will be tracked and recorded yearly.

Other

  • Annual Employee Engagement surveys will include sections on Accessibility. Information from this will help inform what we can do in terms of accessibility at the organization.
  • Equality Fund commits to regularly updating and maintaining accessibility protocols as well as integrating meaningful feedback when offered.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: [email protected].

Standard and accessible formats of the AODA Multi Year Plan are free on request from: [email protected].

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