Accessibility Policy

November 2018
Last Updated
January 31, 2022

Statement of Commitment

The division is committed to ensuring equal access and participation for all service recipients and personnel. The principles of dignity, independence, equal opportunity and the duty to accommodate govern our actions and decision-making.

We are committed to accommodating the needs of all stakeholders by removing and preventing attitudinal, communication, technological, physical, environmental, financial, employment and transportation barriers whenever possible.

Accessibility Policies and Best Practices

The division has adopted the following policies and best practices to ensure accessibility:

1) Physical/Architectural:

Division programs and services are to be located in a building that meets the following criteria.

  • On a bus route

  • Accessible parking nearby

  • Level street access or an accessible elevator

  • Automatic door opener

  • Offices and training rooms with wide doorways

  • Uncluttered hallways

  • Accessible washrooms for service recipients, staff, and other visiting stakeholders

2) Communications:

  • The division will provide all documents and communications in alternate format (electronic, large print, Braille, audible recording) upon request.

  • Documents will be written in plain language and when more technical or legal language is unavoidable, the document will be explained in plain language.

  • All print signage and labelling will be accompanied by Braille. Signage for washrooms will additionally feature generally understood tactile symbols.

  • Deafblind service recipients with severe hearing loss will be accommodated in a way which ensures an optimum learning environment. This might mean one-on-one training in a private room. Any COBD location is to be equipped with visual emergency systems.

  • Interested individuals can contact the Division by email, through social media, over the phone or in-person.

  • Application forms can be completed on-line, by email, over the phone or in-person.

3) Technology:

  • Division computers will be equipped with screen readers and other text to speech software. Braille displays will be available to those who need them upon request.

  • The division website will be easy to navigate using a screen reader.

  • All on-line forms will be accessible.

4) Attitudinal:

  • Staff and service recipients will participate in cross-disability discussions to foster a better understanding of individuals with disabilities other than blindness or Deafblindness.

  • Service recipients will be given strategies and resources for self-advocacy and the promotion of public awareness regarding the abilities of individuals who are blind and Deafblind.

  • Awareness training with regards to how to interact with individuals who are blind or Deafblind will be carried out with other users of any buildings where COBD programs, services or administration activities are located (if applicable).

5) Financial:

  • The division will provide programs and services to registered service recipients for free or at highly subsidized rates, depending on the program

  • Participants may receive a full or partial subsidy if the fees are prohibitive. Subsidy requests will be assessed based on the student’s other financial commitments and ability to pay.

  • Service recipients will receive a free long white cane.

  • The division will provide all equipment and materials required for participation in programs and services.

  • If a participant wishes to take equipment or training materials home for personal use, they will be required to sign a loan agreement for any equipment they borrow and may be asked to reimburse the division for costs incurred that are associated with the equipment and materials in question.

6) Employment:

  • The division will endeavour to employ/contract staff who are blind or Deafblind.

  • If qualified Blind or Deafblind staff are not available, the division will train blind or Deafblind individuals to fill the position or failing this, hire a sighted individual, preferably with a disability.

7) Environmental:

  • The division will operate in a scent-free environment.

  • Service recipients are required to sign a program-specific Participant Agreement which states that they will refrain from wearing or using scented products.

  • Although service recipients may attend the division with guide and service animals, efforts will be made to keep guide and service animals as far away as possible from service recipients with allergies. If this accommodation is problematic, then alternate scheduling will be arranged.

  • Division staff will keep their guide and service animals in a room apart from affected service recipients with allergies.

8) Duty to Accommodate:

  • The division recognizes the provincial and Canadian Human Rights Codes and its duty to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities.

  • If a service recipient identifies an accessibility barrier to division programs or services, the division will discuss accommodations with the affected individual and endeavour to immediately put into practice barrier-reduction/removal measures.

  • If accommodation is prohibitive at the current division location, alternate locations for service delivery will be considered.

  • If the service recipient cannot be accommodated by the division, then alternate service providers are investigated and may be recommended.