A message for the Defence Team from the Deputy Minister for Public Service Accessibility: Happy National AccessAbility Week!
June 1st, 2020 - Defence stories
Happy National AccessAbility Week!
National AccessAbility Week is a chance to recognize the contributions of Canadians with disabilities. It is a time to celebrate the efforts of those who actively remove barriers to allow people with disabilities to have an equal chance to participate in all aspects of Canadians society.
We had hoped to host an in-person event to celebrate the occasion, however, it is simply not possible at this time as we all do our part to adhere to the advice of our public health authorities to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
While the Government of Canada’s top priority remains focused on the pandemic, we would like to take a moment to mark National AccessAbility Week by sharing some videos that show how public servants with disabilities and allies across the public service are transforming our teams, our workplaces and our ways of working to better serve Canadians during these unprecedented times.
During the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery, organizations around the world, including the federal public service, are adapting to working remotely and are finding new, innovative and inclusive ways to support their employees and serve clients and citizens. Let’s ensure that what we are learning from these inclusive practices remains long after the pandemic is over. Let’s continue removing barriers and make accessibility and disability inclusion the new “normal.”
Please visit the Government of Canada Accessibility in the Public service web page to view a series of videos for National AccessAbility Week showing how the Government of Canada is leading by example in building an accessible and inclusive public service.
As you will see in these videos and in the measures the Government of Canada has put in place in response to COVID-19, we are committed to helping persons with disabilities maintain their health, safety, and dignity during the pandemic and beyond.
Over the last number of months, we have made sure key pandemic-related information in Canada is accessible to all by having sign language interpretation, captioning, and following best practices and standards for document accessibility. We have also contributed input to resources about working remotely and mental health in the virtual workplace that ensures persons with disabilities can continue to do their work and be successful.
Public Servants can be proud of their work in ensuring that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was built accessibly from the beginning.
Over the past year, there has been significant progress in implementing Nothing Without Us: An Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service of Canada. Here are some highlights:
- New guidance was issued by Treasury Board Secretariat encouraging organizations to adopt the best-in-class Harmonized European Standard for new information and communications technology products and services.
- The Canada School of Public Service developed new learning products and hosted awareness raising events for all public servants to support building a culture of accessibility confidence.
- The Public Service Commission launched the Federal Internship Program for Canadians with disabilities and published new tools and guidance for recruitment of employees with disabilities.
- Treasury Board Secretariat made changes to contracting policy requiring departments to consider accessibility.
- The Accessible Procurement Resource Centre at Public Services and Procurement Canada is helping departments integrate accessibility considerations by default into government procurement.
- The Centralized Enabling Workplace Fund was launched at Treasury Board Secretariat. A benchmarking study of workplace accommodations in the Government of Canada was completed. It shows that the current process is complex, burdensome and time-consuming and does not achieve timely or effective results. Employees and supervisors emphasize the need to simplify and standardize processes, forms and guidance across departments and to provide greater clarity about the information needed from doctors and specialists to support decisions and expedite the process.
- The GC Workplace Accessibility Passport, another project under the Fund, is completing its first phase with early adopter departments who are testing it. The Passport is designed to facilitate conversations between employees and their managers about the tools and supports employees need to succeed in their jobs. It supports employee mobility and career development by ensuring portability of adaptive tools and support measures between federal organizations.
- Shared Services Canada has accelerated the deployment of Microsoft 365 and Teams through a phased roll out as a first step in its roadmap to deliver solutions that are accessible by design. The goal is to support the ability to generate accessible content and to allow teams to inclusively and accessibly work together in a virtual environment.
On our way to an Accessible Public Service
Nothing Without Us is but a roadmap. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure they are doing their part to create and foster inclusion in the workplace. This year, several Departments have shown tremendous leadership in implementing Nothing Without Us by:
- identifying an executive lead on accessibility;
- establishing accessibility teams with expertise in all the areas covered in the Accessible Canada Act;
consulting with their employees with disabilities to determine their particular priorities and concerns; and,
developing an accessibility plan for their organization.
OPSA continues to work with partners across Government to track progress and to shine light on what remains to be done to achieve our vision of being the most accessible and inclusive public service in the world!
Implementing the future of work now
In some ways, COVID-19 has created barriers for us all. As public servants, we are adapting rapidly and using flexible work arrangements and workplace accommodations to continue to serve in the best interest of Canadians. We are continuously exploring new ways to operate in this virtual environment. As we do so, let’s be sure that a disability-inclusion lens is part of the design and decision-making process in everything we do.
The last few months have shown how the public service can innovate, can be agile, and can equip its people to deliver exceptional results. I invite you to harness this creative energy and support our diverse and vibrant (and virtual!) teams to flourish; to remove barriers in all of our workplaces and spaces; and to serve all Canadians. We are better and stronger together when everyone can participate and feel included.
I hope you all join me in taking a moment to reflect on the actions you have taken this year to help remove barriers for employees with disabilities and to make your workplace accessible and inclusive.
I thank you for your commitment and dedication.
Stay safe and stay healthy.
Deputy Minister, Public Service Accessibility
To keep up to speed on public service accessibility activities follow DM Yazmine Laroche on Twitter! @yazminelaroche.
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