Processing and following up on your consultation
Processing and following up on your consultation
On this page
- Evaluating and processing information
- Evaluating the consultation process
The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) and the Accessible Canada Regulations (regulations) require that your accessibility plans and progress reports include a “Consultations” heading. Under that heading, you must describe how you consulted persons with disabilities in preparing that plan or report.
As you work on this, we recommend that you:
- assess the information you have received from participants
- evaluate the consultation process
- follow up with participants
This guidance provides tips, recommendations and best practices on how to:
- evaluate and process comments
- organize notes and submissions
- write public summary documents
- identify ways to improve future consultations
Evaluating and processing information
Organizing notes and submissions, and analyzing contents
Once your consultations have taken place, you will have a lot of information to process. Most of this information will come from participants, but you may also have notes from organizers or facilitators.
There are many ways to process this information. We recommend that you start by categorizing and organizing it in a folder, spreadsheet, or other document. You could sort your information by:
- the types of barriers section 5 of the ACA
- the types of disabilities
- the length and depth of the responses
Choose the best method based on the submissions you received, and on your organization’s needs. Make sure to gather any notes from organizers or facilitators, since they can provide useful insights.
Remember to respect participants’ privacy, in your records and in anything you publish. This might include:
- removing identifying details like names, contact information (such as phone numbers or addresses), and places (if they could identify someone)
- anonymizing participants’ details to ensure confidentiality
Participants may share personal stories about their lives and experiences. Such stories can offer valuable perspectives on accessibility and disability informed by lived experience. You may need to take a different approach to how you include them in your accessibility plans and progress reports.
We recommend that you compile and categorize these stories in a data entry program like Excel. Create consistent labels for each story that reflect their content, such as:
- the types of barriers they describe
- the types of disabilities they involve
- the areas from section 5 of the ACA they involve
Collecting and organizing this data can help you write your descriptions of how you consulted persons with disabilities.
- “35 out of 40 participants described the removal of attitudinal barriers as being just as important as the removal of physical barriers”
- “85% of participants said we have made significant progress in implementing our plan”
- “participants with learning and developmental disabilities were three times more likely than others to say that our website needs significant accessibility improvements”
This data may also help you identify trends or gaps.
For example, you may learn:
- if some participants contributed more actively or with greater depth than others:
- if some contributed more because of support you may have provided
- if others contributed less because they encountered barriers in the process that your organization did not anticipate
- if there are any differences in the comments submitted by participants in individual consultations compared to those who participated in groups or via teleconference
- if there were any common themes in answers participants gave to your questions
Remember to thank participants for their time and contributions. We also recommend that you keep these lines of communication open even after the consultation is over. This will allow you to:
- update participants on your progress in implementing your accessibility plans
- invite participants to future events
- notify participants about any changes to your plans, progress reports, or feedback process
Creating public summaries of consultations
You must include descriptions of how you consulted persons with disabilities in your accessibility plans and progress reports. You may also choose to prepare summaries and reports for internal use, or to share with the public. These reports are sometimes called “what we heard reports” or “what we learned reports.”
These summaries describe how the consultation process and outcomes, and provide an overview of the comments received. Public summaries can help demonstrate your organization’s accountability to persons with disabilities. They can also help you identify the concrete actions that you will describe in your accessibility plans and progress reports.
If you share a summary with the public, we recommend that it:
- describe the consultation’s goals, timeframe, and methods
- list all questions that you asked
- list all input that you received
- describe how your organization will take this input into account
- provide a high-level explanation of any input that you cannot, or will not, act on
- candidly assess the consultation process’s strengths and areas for improvement
- set out the next steps your organization will take to identify, remove, and prevent barriers
This can help show that you listened to participants’ input. It can help ensure that the summary is meaningful for persons with disabilities.
If you choose to publish a public summary, we recommend that it be:
- simple, clear and concise
- presented in an accessible form, and be provided in alternate formats upon request
- shared with participants in a timely manner
- published on your organization’s website or digital platform, if you have one
- respectful of participants’ right to privacy and any requests about anonymity or attribution
Evaluating the consultation process
We also recommend that you evaluate your consultation process. This can help you identify things that worked well or that you could improve, and document any lessons you learned.
Your evaluation criteria may depend on your consultation approach. You may try to find out some or all of the following:
- if the consultation involved as many participants as you had hoped
- if it included diverse experiences and perspectives
- if the process ended up excluding any groups of people or types of perspective:
- if so, why this may have happened and how you could address it for future consultations
- if input was helpful, detailed, and constructive
- if input was actionable
- if the venues or platform chosen for the consultation work as intended:
- if not, how you could change it for future consultations
- if organizers, facilitators, or employees encountered any recurring problems during the consultation
We recommend that you ask participants for their opinions about the process and their experiences. Their input can help you plan future consultations. Your feedback process description could include instructions for how participants can submit this input. Additional guidance on feedback processes will be available in 2022.
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