Webinar Summary: What BC’s Draft Accessibility Standards Mean For You


Webinar promo graphic for Untapped's "What BC's Draft Accessibility Standards Mean for You" webinar

With BC’s first two draft Accessibility Standards now open for feedback, Untapped Accessibility hosted an expert panel on June 26th, 2024 to explore what this means for BC organizations in the public, non-profit, and private sectors.

Moderated by Robbie McDonald, panelists Anu Pala, Leanna Manning, Nora Loyst, and Trish Kelly provided deep insight into what the draft standards will mean for BC organizations.

Watch the captioned recording

The captioned recording is available on Youtube.

Discussion themes

Equitable service delivery and employment

Opening the webinar, Untapped’s Managing Director Trish Kelly shared what the team has learned through hours of studying the requirements.

By prioritizing service delivery and employment standards, there will be a holistic guide for organizations to follow.

As Trish noted: “Service and employment standards touch every area of an organization.”

For Nora, the move to equitable service delivery provides long overdue enhanced access: “I really see a shift towards a social model of disability within this draft standard.  The focus here is on ensuring that people with disabilities have equitable access to services.”

A major part of the standards is ensuring that public facing teams have the proper training and tools to offer accessible information. As Trish explained, we also need the leadership level involved and asking the right questions.

“In its simplest form we can imagine the Employment Standard will improve accessibility for your staff, and the Service Delivery standard will improve it for the people you serve so there’s really no area in your organization that is exempt from having to pay attention to the standards.”  Trish said.

A new level of clarity

For Trish, part of what galvanizes her as a leader is the expanded clarity these standards provide.

“From an employment perspective my work as a leader of an organization and having led other organizations in the past informs my perspective on this. I think part of what excites me is that these standards are going to give us clarity.”

Trish added the standards have implications beyond the public sector, noting it will impact private businesses and non-profits as well.

“It’s really going to start to have an impact on how accessibility occurs in BC society.”

Digital accessibility critical for implementing accessibility for employment and service delivery

Anu shared her expertise as a seasoned accessibility expert working in the sector for years. For her, one of the biggest improvements is in attitudinal barriers.

She also stressed the importance of being proactive with digital accessibility.

“It’s really ensuring that websites, digital tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them, so I’d like everybody to think for a moment about physical spaces, so accessible washrooms, ramps, and audible signals, so these things are designed so that people with disabilities can use them independently, and so the same principle applies to digital accessibility as well.”

For Anu, flexibility is also vital as organizations begin implementing the standards, leaders need to consider that everyone’s needs are different.

As a leader in the accessibility movement, she also noted how vital it is to acknowledge all the work that’s been done to get us to this point of increased awareness and expanded access.

Plain language crucial for both standards

As a Plain Language expert, Leanna stressed the importance of implementing it in every area of an organization, not just in communications.

“It’s more than just wording. It’s about being able to find information and it’s also about having a communication so clear that you can immediately identify where to get the information you need.”

The draft standards are asking employers to give timely information that is accessible to all staff. Think emails, meeting agendas, and reports. Plain language in internal communications reduces misunderstandings and creates more empathy.

“Applying Plain Language principles to your communications builds trust, and creates more equitable experiences for everybody,” they said.

Planning and storytelling

When asked what it will take to implement the standards, Trish said there needs to be planning and there needs to be action.

It’s important not to leave it all to one team member but share the responsibility across departments. Having senior leaders involved will go a long way in ensuring the standards are met.

Transparency is also a major factor. Sharing what your organization has done so far and how you plan to continue will go a long way in building trust

By centering disabled voices, organizations can create more inclusive, effective and equitable environments and that ultimately benefits everybody.

With these new standards out for review, we’re excited to support you in implementation. Reach out to learn how we can get you there.