The Accessibility for Manitobans Act became law on December 5, 2013. Under the Act, five standards will be developed and will form regulations. They include:
- The Accessible Customer Service standard
- The Accessible Information and Communications standard
- The Accessible Built Environment standard
- The Employment Accessibility standard
- The Accessible Transportation standard
The Accessibility Advisory Council is responsible for developing all five standards. The first standard, Manitoba’s Accessibility Standard for Customer Service, has been developed and is now law in Manitoba. Public sector organizations, including government and government agencies such as the Manitoba Arts Council (MAC) must be compliant by November 2017.
“The Accessibility Standard for Customer Service is now law in Manitoba. Businesses and organizations will be required to provide customer service that is accessible to all Manitobans.”
Introducing Manitoba’s Accessibility Standard for Customer Service. Province of Manitoba.
Manitoba Arts Council’s values and its mission to provide a foundation for the creation of MAC’s policy and program for customer service accessibility for persons with disabilities.
MAC values include:
Diversity: to foster greater inclusion in and of the arts
Leadership: in our thinking and actions
Innovation: To think broadly, creatively, and long-term
Respect: To honour the uniqueness of our clients through fairness and equity.
MAC’s mission is to promote, preserve, support, and advocate for the arts as essential to the quality of life of all the people of Manitoba. MAC envisions a province with a creative spirit brought about by arts at the heart of community life where:
The arts landscape is characterized by province-wide participation that spans our diverse people and communities.
The development and implementation of an accessibility plan will raise awareness about barriers, and devise policies and practices to address them whenever possible, while improving accessibility to Manitoba Arts Council programs, events and activities.
A team approach and the advice and counsel of persons with disabilities, along with community consultations will support the creative of the Manitoba Arts Council Customer Service Accessibility Plan. MAC’s working group, with the guidance of an advisory council, will develop the plan, and support accessibility initiatives through the organization. The most senior members of the Manitoba Arts Council, including the CEO and Council members, will work to increase their awareness and understanding of barriers to access, the new legislation, and our approach and plan.
Staff will approach members of the arts community who have self-identified as persons with disabilities to assist us in our work as part of an advisory panel to the working group, and in community consultations.
While Accessibility for persons with disabilities is the focus of our work, we will continuously be aware of equity in our endeavours and importance of this broader consideration.
The current situation
MAC has worked to reduce barriers that may prevent persons with disabilities from receiving appropriate customer service, but much more can – and will – be done.
While we may be aware of awareness of physical and more obvious disabilities, an important part of our work will be to become aware of invisible barriers that may exist. Working with members of the accessibility community will help raise this awareness as we do our work.
We may be challenged by the broad scope of this initiative. To make sure we accomplish our goals, we will set specific timelines, and work with members of the disability community to set priorities.
Once this work has been completed, we will be able to provide better customer service to those with invisible as well as visible disabilities by anticipating and reducing barriers.
A working group was established to develop a plan to address the Customer Service Standard in March 2016. Our goal is to be compliant prior to the November 2017 deadline, with sufficient time to consult internally and externally on the work that is being done. A timeline has been created to guide the development of the Manitoba Arts Council’s Accessibility Plan.