Accessibility is the Law / Participation is Your Right

Graphic of VIRN Logo in Black and White version.
Public Information Campaign

VIRN wants to inform you of a very important public information campaign.

Barrier-Free Manitoba and partner groups have launched the "Accessibility is the Law / Participation is Your Right" public information campaign. The campaign’s goal is to promote awareness of new accessibility requirements established under the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) for all public meetings

Background

Under the AMA, provincial government departments have been responsible to ensure the full accessibility of public meetings and events since November 1, 2016. Starting November 2017, most public sector organizations beyond government must do the same.

That means that organizations are required to ensure that:
• notices and promotions of public meetings and events are accessible to Manitobans with disabilities
• public meetings and events are held in spaces that are accessible
• Manitobans with disabilities are invited to request accommodations required for their full participation
• the physical and communication needs of persons disabled by barriers are met on request.

These organizations include:
• All government boards, commissions, associations, agencies, or similar bodies for which all board members are appointed Act of the Legislature or by the Lieutenant Governor in Council
• All colleges and universities
• All regional health authorities
• All school divisions and schools
• The cities of Brandon, Dauphin, Flin Flon, Morden, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, Steinbach, Thompson, Winkler and Winnipeg.

In the past, while all Manitobans with disabilities have had the same legal right to participate as everyone else, many thousands of them, in practice, were denied their human rights to full citizenship because of barriers. The requirements established under the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act have now changed this. We think that this is wonderful news.

This campaign is intended to:
• Inform Manitobans with disabilities of the requirements removing barriers to their right to participate.
• Inform organizations what they are required to do to fulfill the requirements.

Celebrate and Exercise Your Rights

Please take every opportunity to celebrate and exercise your rights. Please become and have others you know become accessible public meeting champions who help ensure that organizations are meeting these new requirements.

If you see a notice in newspapers, online or elsewhere of public meetings and events being held by the organizations listed above, and it does not include an open and clear invitation for Manitobans with disabilities to request accommodations, call the group and express your concerns. If you want to attend and need an accommodation, request it in advance. If you see that a public meeting or event is scheduled to be held in space that you know is not fully accessible, call the group and express your concerns.

If you still have concerns after speaking with the group and/or if the group tells you that they won't provide the requested accommodation, we strongly encourage you to work with VIRN and contact the Province's Disability Issues Office:
Phone: 204-945-7613
Toll Free: 1-800-282-8069 (Extension 7613)
email: dio@gov.mb.ca

Change is hard, even a really important change like this. We expect that at least some of the organizations are going to need a little encouragement; together we can provide that encouragement. Please become and have others you know become accessible public meeting champions who help ensure that organizations are meeting these new requirements.

Finally, BFM would like to thank the partner groups that have helped organize this information campaign:
• Deaf Centre Manitoba Inc.
• Manitoba Deaf Association
• St. Amant
• Manitoba Deaf-Blind Association Inc.
• Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities,
• Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - Manitoba Chapter organizations are meeting these new requirements.