Removing barriers, promoting inclusion
December 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The University of Manitoba has formed a committee with eight other post-secondary institutions to coordinate efforts and ensure the best approaches are taken in adopting the province’s new accessibility standard for customer service.
This standard came into effect on November 1, 2015, and it is the first of five standards released under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA). The other standards include: information and communication, built environment, employment, and transportation.
The customer service accessibility standard requires all of Manitoba’s public, private and non-profit organizations to establish and implement measures, policies and practices to remove barriers to customer service. Organizations have two years to become compliant.
The University of Manitoba has long been committed to ensuring an accessible environment for all people studying, working and living on campus. In 1983, the U of M opened the office of Disabled Student Services (later renamed Disability Services), taking on the work of the student group created in 1977, Physically Handicapped Concerns on Campus. In 2011, Disability Services changed its name to Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and today this office upholds the Manitoba Human Rights Code, the AMA and the U of M’s accessibility policy, while advocating for and supporting students with disabilities.
According to SAS’ latest annual report, 1,047 students registered with SAS in 2013-2014.
The U of M will work with other post-secondary institutes to share ideas on how to best introduce these new accessibilty standards. Our collaborators include Assiniboine Community College, Brandon University, Canadian Mennonite University, Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, Red River College, University College of the North, l’Université de Saint-Boniface and University of Winnipeg.
The institutions will meet multiple times a year to share ideas and brainstorm on best practices.
“We have the same clientele — students, faculty and staff —so we want to come together, share resources and develop creative and innovative solutions,” says Jackie Gruber, human rights/conflict management officer, Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management, University of Manitoba.
To read about the province’s AMA, visit the website of the Disability Issues Office.