Removing barriers for Canadians with disabilities

This year on December 3, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is recognizing the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day aims to increase awareness and promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life.

At PSPC, accessibility is about providing support to build a country where all people, regardless of disability, are included in society and can fully take advantage of our programs and services.

Accessibility in Canada’s Parliamentary Precinct

As the centre of our democracy and the symbolic heart of our nation, Parliament Hill is a place where all Canadians are welcome.

A woman reading a brail sign in the Parliamentary Precinct

Through the Long Term Vision and Plan for the Parliamentary Precinct (a multi-decade strategy to restore and modernize the Precinct), PSPC has committed to ensuring that buildings and grounds are accessible, family-friendly and open to the public. That’s why the new and restored buildings on Parliament Hill are now designed and built with enhanced accessibility and inclusion measures, such as:

  • barrier-free amenities
  • tactile signage
  • enhanced broadcast capabilities and simultaneous translation
A man in a wheelchair sitting in the balcony in the House of Commons

PSPC is also working to deliver a Universal Accessibility Review and Action Plan for the Parliamentary Precinct, a measure that is being applied to the entire campus. The action plan’s Established Universal Accessibility Best Practices will guide all major projects and ongoing accessibility improvements to the grounds and buildings.

This approach will ensure that the Parliamentary Precinct becomes a leader and model in universal accessibility and moves PSPC well above and beyond current codes and standards to help develop a clear and defined strategy for accessibility in the Parliamentary Precinct.

Watch the Improved accessibility in the Parliamentary Precinct video on how PSPC has made the restored and modernized Senate of Canada Building and West Block more accessible for everyone.

The Translation Bureau and accessibility

A woman interpreting in sign language

Every year, PSPC’s Translation Bureau provides more than 6,300 hours of sign language interpretation (American Sign Language and Langue des signes québécoise), along with other accessible communication modes such as French and English tactile interpretation and oral transliteration (lip reading).

The Bureau also provides approximately 6,000 hours a year of real-time closed captioning services of parliamentary proceedings. These services are in place to ensure equal access to communication and information for Canadians who are deaf, deafened, deafblind or hard of hearing.

Accessibility in GCworkplace

GCworkplace has been developed to be an accessible and inclusive workplace design standard. The program provides occupants with full control over the work setting that best suits their functional needs. By integrating accessibility at the onset of the design phase, GCworkplace is promoting an inclusive, equitable and adaptive workplace.

GCworkplace Consultation Series on Accessibility

An open-concept GCworkplace with desks and computers

The Office of Accessibility in the Built Environment partnered with the Centre for GCworkplace Innovation to host 25 consultations. More than 250 participants from 36 departments across the country participated. The consultations helped them to better understand the barriers that persons with disabilities face in the workplace.

Individual reports were prepared for 8 categories of disabilities, as follows:

  • mobility, flexibility and dexterity disabilities
  • visual disabilities
  • hearing disabilities
  • cognitive disabilities
  • mental health disabilities
  • intellectual disabilities
  • chronic pain
  • environmental/sensory disabilities
A lounge area with chairs and a long couch in the GCworkplace

A final report summarizing key findings will be published by the end of 2021 and shared with stakeholders and other departments. Also, as a result of the feedback received through the Consultation Series, updates have been made to the GCworkplace Design Guide (PDF, 5Mb) to improve acoustics, integrate elements of nature, as well as emphasize intuitive wayfinding and visual distinctions between spaces.

With a commitment to accessibility and well-being, GCworkplace will be continually adapted to ensure that all current and future Government of Canada employees can work in a barrier-free environment.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities increases awareness of diverse abilities and promotes inclusion for all Canadians with disabilities. PSPC is committed to provide accessible programs and services, and to ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities are taken into consideration every step of the way.

For more information, visit the Accessibility at Public Services and Procurement Canada webpage.

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