Dalhousie University Accessibility Plan
In 2017, Nova Scotia passed the Accessibility Act, becoming the third Canadian province to adopt accessibility legislation. The act recognizes accessibility as a human right, and outlines how the province will improve accessibility by preventing and removing barriers. The Act sets a goal of an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030.
We are pleased to share the Dalhousie University Accessibility Plan. As an educational institution which spans multiple campuses and communities, we acknowledge the imperative to making Dalhousie fully accessible by removing barriers to education, employment, and research. We are committed to the work required to achieve this goal for our community.
This multi-year Accessibility Plan outlines how we will achieve the 2030 provincial goal by implementing changes to six key focus areas:
- Dalhousie will use an integrated framework to enable collaborative work across the university to develop, monitor and continually improve its accessibility plan
- The framework will support work to identify, remove, and prevent barriers for persons with disabilities and to monitor progress to address legislated requirements
- Dalhousie will continually strive for a barrier-free institution that demonstrates innovation in approaches to accessibility
- Dalhousie will strive to exceed the core requirements set out by provincial legislation
Dalhousie University Accessibility Advisory Committee (DUAAC) - members serve as champions and provide high-level direction, recommendations and resources for the development of the Plan.
Dalhousie University Accessibility Steering Committee (DUASC) - provides subject matter expertise, functional ownership and accountability for results.
Project Team and Working Groups - provide day-to-day leadership for planning and implementation, monitors progress, resolves issues and escalates when required, assesses change management needs and develop strategies, implements communication plan and leads the individual working groups. Advises the Accessibility Advisory and Steering Committee on progress where decisions are required.
Resource Leads - individuals with subject matter expertise who are brought in (as required) to assist in the development, monitoring and continuous improvement of the University's accessibility plan.
Developing the Plan
Efforts to develop a Dalhousie Accessibility Plan began in August 2019, building off an accessibility audit, followed by the development of the Dalhousie University Accessibility Advisory Committee (DUAAC).
Our decision-making teams were mostly comprised of members of the Dalhousie community who live with disability and leaders responsible for accessibility work.
Developing an Accessibility Plan for Dalhousie has been a collaborative effort, stewarded through project leads, the Accessibility Advisory Committee, and six working groups that consulted and worked to ensure that our plan addresses the six areas of focus through individual sub-plans that were submitted in July 2021. These sub plans have been reviewed, analyzed and integrated into a single cohesive roadmap of priorities/initiatives, expected outcomes and anticipated timelines, to be accompanied by an implementation plan with accountabilities identified across the university community.
Critical to developing a comprehensive and inclusive Accessibility Plan was connecting with and listening to members of our community, through:
- A series of cross-university consultations between October and December 2020, including focus groups and meetings with individuals and groups
- Working group cross-collaboration intended to ensure integration of consultations and sub-plan content to avoid duplication and gaps
- Intentionality around working group membership – each group includes members who have lived experiences with disabilities, as well as those who are responsible for providing service, education or research regarding accessibility at the university
- Consultation with people with disabilities and campus groups and committees representing people with disabilities
- A comprehensive Employment Systems Review conducted in 2021
- Consistent and regular communication across the Dalhousie community was critically important throughout the Plan development process, and included:
- Dedicated web content on Dalhousie’s public site (dal.ca), connecting to current resources and services for students, faculty and staff
- Regular communications updates to students, faculty and staff
- Feature stories and updates shared through Dal News and Today@Dal (internal/external audiences)
- Intentional connection with other projects taking place at Dalhousie that have significant overlap, for example, the employment systems review and development of Dalhousie’s Employment Equity Plan, 2022-2025
- A February/March 2021 accessibility survey that was completed by 2,209 respondents (942 students, 346 faculty members, 921 staff)
- The survey featured customized versions for students, staff and faculty, providing valuable data that was used both to improve and address current issues/gaps in accessibility services, and inform Dalhousie’s Accessibility Plan for 2022
- A survey summary (dashboard) was developed and shared through multiple team and leadership meetings