Developing Dalhousie's 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.
Designated by the province as a “public body”, Dal is required to craft and submit a comprehensive accessibility plan by April 2022. However, Dalhousie’s approach is not just meet, but exceed, the core requirements set out in the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act, which specifies the removal of barriers to participation in each of the following areas of focus:
- Built Environment
- Teaching, Learning and Research
- Goods and Services
- Information and Communication
Efforts to develop a Dalhousie Accessibility Plan began in August 2019, building off a Dalhousie accessibility audit (built environment), followed by the development of the Dalhousie University Accessibility Committee (DUAC).
Developing an accessibility Plan for Dalhousie is a collaborative effort, stewarded through the accessibility committee, an advisory committee, steering group, core project team and six working groups that will address the areas of focus through individual sub-plans submitted by July 2021.
Critical to developing a comprehensive and inclusive accessibility strategy is 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
- Additional consultation with people with disabilities and campus groups and committees representing people with disabilities
- Working group cross-collaboration – to ensure integration of consultations and sub plan content to avoid duplication and gaps
- An accessibility survey, with shared and unique questions for students, faculty and staff, that was distributed in March 2021
- 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 at the university.
Next steps and re-engaging with our Dalhousie community
- July - August 2021 - Working group sub-plans will be merged into one draft Dalhousie University Accessibility Plan.
- September - November 2021 - In addition to re-engaging/consulting with key internal and external stakeholder groups, there will be opportunities for feedback and comments on the draft Plan through a series of focus group meetings (six in total) for students, faculty and staff. This will be followed by a series of reviews and presentations which will include Dalhousie Senate, Dalhousie Board of Governors, and other groups.
A final approved Dalhousie University Accessibility Plan will be presented to the province in April 2022.