At the Bank of Canada, our commitment to accessibility is rooted in our values, which guide us to include everyone. Our efforts to achieve accessibility are deeply connected to, and mutually reinforced by:
- the Bank’s priorities, including ongoing work in support of equity, diversity and inclusion
- legislation, such as the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Labour Code and the Employment Equity Act
- the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
We recognize that accessibility is an ongoing and central element of being an inclusive organization. That’s why the plan we’ve developed to continue improving our accessibility builds on our inclusive mindset and practices.
We can be inclusive and accessible only when we understand and meet the needs of those of us with disabilities. For that reason, this plan has been developed in consultation with employees who identify as having a disability and with key external stakeholders, including organizations that serve people with disabilities.
Through the plan’s development—including a survey, focus groups, interviews and reviews of the Bank’s facilities—we identified barriers and 29 actions to improve accessibility in six of the seven priority areas under the Accessible Canada Act. We have also looked to leading practices from other organizations to help identify other opportunities for improvement.
To deliver on the commitments of our plan, we formed a working group with key partners, including teams focused on enhancing accessibility and employees with disabilities. In collaboration with the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team in HR, the working group will raise the visibility of the plan and support the implementation and evaluation of key actions.
While this is the Bank’s first formal accessibility plan, it builds on previous investments and successes. These include:
- renovations to the Bank’s head office and our other physical spaces
- improvements to the accessibility of our website and technology platforms, currency, engagements and learning opportunities
- the creation of Enabled, our employee resource group for employees with disabilities and their allies
The world around us is complex, and identifying and removing the barriers that persons with disabilities face requires:
- open and honest conversations and reflection
- ongoing dialogue with key partners
- authentic and concrete commitments
Change takes time, and this plan will guide us in our efforts to improve accessibility over the next three years.
Our accessibility vision statement
The Bank of Canada is accessible to all employees and Canadians, including persons with disabilities. We value the contributions individuals with disabilities bring to our culture, workplace and communities.
Our commitment to inclusion and accessibility incorporates a feedback process so that employees and members of the public can share their ideas and input with us. To provide feedback on accessibility, use one of the contact methods below. If you require support while providing feedback, let us know, and we will do our best to meet your needs. If you provide your contact information, we are committed to responding to your feedback in a timely manner and in the format that we receive it. You may also choose to provide feedback anonymously.
Contact: Senior Accessibility and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist
Mailing address: 234 Wellington Street, Ottawa ON K1A 0G9
Toll-free, North America: 1‑800‑303‑1282
Outside North America: +1‑613‑782‑8111
Reporting on our plan
As required by the Accessible Canada Act, we will publish a status report every year that shows our progress against our commitments. We will review and update our accessibility plan every three years. We will also measure our overall progress and how the plan influences the culture and experiences of our organization.
The Accessible Canada Act includes seven principles1
- Everyone must be treated with dignity.
- Everyone must have the same opportunity to make for themselves the life they are able and wish to have.
- Everyone must be able to participate fully and equally in society.
- Everyone must have meaningful options and be free to make their own choices, with support if they desire.
- Laws, policies, programs, services and structures must take into account the ways that different kinds of barriers and discrimination intersect.
- Persons with disabilities must be involved in the development and design of laws, policies, programs, services and structures.
- Accessibility standards and regulations must be made with the goal of achieving the highest level of accessibility.
Addressing areas identified in the Accessible Canada Act
The Bank identified barriers in six of the seven areas identified in the Act, as well as actions to address them.
Accessibility must be ensured at every stage of employment. This means accommodations must be made available to candidates and employees upon request and accessibility should be embedded into policies, processes and practices, including:
- employee onboarding
- professional development
- business travel
- short- and long-term disability leaves
- return-to-work processes
- The Bank attracts qualified candidates with disabilities according to their availability on the labour market for our occupations and reaches our corporate representation goal for employees with disabilities in our workforce.
- Employees with disabilities report being treated with respect at a level that matches those of all employees, in the Bank’s Work Environment Check-Up surveys.
Our current number of job applicants and employees hired with disabilities is lower than labour market availability.
- Enhance the careers section of our website to increase visibility of Bank jobs among Canadians with disabilities and signal our commitment to their inclusion in our workforce.
- Educate hiring managers on accessibility and how they can ensure a barrier-free hiring, selection and accommodation process.
- Benchmark current recruitment, selection and onboarding practices against leading accessibility practices.
Employees with disabilities experience lower feelings of inclusion in Bank surveys than the Bank average.
- Review human resources policies with an inclusion and accessibility lens.
- Launch an online learning module on accessibility to promote inclusive behaviours.
- Review and centralize existing accessibility and accommodation-related resources for employees and develop new resources as needed.
- Continue to support our employee resource group for employees with disabilities and their allies to deliver programming to reduce stigma and improve inclusion.
2. Built environment
The built environment comprises human-made structures, features and facilities—it’s the physical environments where people live and work. Newly developed or redesigned buildings and public spaces are expected to incorporate universal designs and to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.2
- The Bank building is easy for employees and visitors with disabilities to access.
- We identify and remove architectural and physical barriers quickly and effectively.
Despite recent renovations, some spaces continue to limit the mobility of employees and visitors with disabilities.
- Prioritize and update the accessibility features of key meeting rooms.
- Automate door openers in the Bank’s primary pathways.
- Establish a standing advisory committee of internal stakeholders to provide feedback on proposed design changes to the built environment.
- Implement high-priority recommendations from previously completed third-party reviews of our facilities.
A variety of accessibility standards exist across Bank locations, mainly resulting from different provincial regulations. This can lead to unevenness in how employees or the public experience our facilities.
- Implement a national, Bank-specific framework establishing a set of design criteria that standardizes universal access at all sites.
- Compare our built environment at every site with previously completed Bank accessibility reports and implement high-priority projects.
3. Information and communication technologies
Information and communication technologies are various technological tools and resources used to transmit, store, create, share or exchange information.3
- An increase in available self-serve technology and accessibility features enhances in-person and hybrid meeting experiences and participation.
- Employees, guests and facilitators are more fully able to participate in training, conferences and other events hosted by the Bank.
The requirement for individuals to request that accessibility features be turned on or activated limits the ability of employees and guests with disabilities to use them.
- Develop standards for the application of simultaneous interpretation, translation and captioning functions for key Bank meetings, media engagements and conferences, when appropriate.
- Raise awareness of accessibility features for in-person and hybrid meeting technologies.
- Ensure that Bank websites continue to meet web accessibility requirements.4
The inaccessibility of technologies in commonly used meeting and collaboration spaces can limit the ability of facilitators and attendees to participate meaningfully.
- Review the technology used in common conference, learning and meeting spaces to ensure that it meets a high level of accessibility and respects all legal and policy requirements.
4. Communication (other than information and communication technologies)
The communication priority area recognizes that people give, receive and understand communication in different ways. An organization is expected to take these differences into account and provide its communications in various accessible formats for people who require them. Some examples of communication products include signs, wayfinding, documents, forms, bills and receipts that are not technologically based.
- The Bank ensures the accessibility of key documents, internally and externally, for people who request them in an alternative format.
- The Bank responds to requests for key resources or publicly available documents in an accessible format in the same amount of time as for other document requests, or as directed by applicable legislation.
The Bank’s standard document templates and formats for its files, reports and presentations do not always meet the accessibility needs of their users.
- Embed accessibility into the Bank’s internal and external corporate communications products and templates (e.g., briefing note templates, PowerPoint templates, wayfinding).
- Develop or share resources for employees on how to make documents and communications accessible.
- Develop guidelines for the provision of American Sign Language, Langue des signes québecoise and Plains Indian Sign Language during remote and hybrid internal and external meetings and events, as the situation warrants.
The Bank does not have a uniform process to ensure alternate formats, such as braille or captioned audio, for the information and communications it issues to employees and Canadians.
- Identify service providers and develop contracts or agreements to create alternate formats, where appropriate.
- Catalogue and store documents and materials requested in alternative formats.
- Prepare key accessibility resources in alternative formats so that they are ready to be distributed upon request.
5. Procurement of goods, services and facilities
The Accessible Canada Act requires us to consider accessibility requirements for procurement and include accessibility as part of the provision of goods, services and facilities, where appropriate (e.g., accessible technology, materials and amenities).
- Accessibility becomes a part of our procurement expectations, and goods and services we purchase are accessible from the beginning.
- Business lines cultivate procurement practices that respect the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
Accessibility considerations are not fully embedded in the Bank’s procurement framework and tools.
- Revise the procurement policy to reinforce that accessibility must be considered when procuring goods and services.
- Embed accessibility considerations into procurement templates (e.g., requests for proposals) so that they inform the selection of external vendors, products and services that will abide by the requirements of the Accessible Canada Act.
6. Design and delivery of programs and services
How the Bank designs and delivers its internal and external programs and services matters in fostering accessibility. This includes the programs and information for current employees, retirees and the general public. Beginning with the planning stage for its key activities and functions, the Bank should incorporate accessibility considerations.
- The Bank’s public-facing programs and services are more accessible, and we receive few accessibility-related complaints.
- The Bank has a strong culture of collaboration with internal stakeholders and employees with disabilities.
The lack of a comprehensive and documented approach to setting the accessibility standards for Bank programs and processes results in inconsistent experiences for clients.
- Develop internal accessibility best practices and review the accessibility levels at key points of interaction with the public to ensure they meet these standards.
- Develop best practices and promote guidelines for accessible client services at the Bank.
A lack of standard measures to assess internal and external programs, events and engagements limits the evaluation of their accessibility.
- Standardize the Bank’s approach to collecting accessibility-related feedback and reporting on the accessibility of programs, events and engagements.
- Develop a high-level accessibility metric to track overall change resulting from the accessibility plan and embed it (or similar metrics) into internal reporting.
The Bank does not coordinate a transportation system, or a fleet of transportation vehicles as defined in the Accessible Canada Act. This means that standards for transportation are not in the scope of this plan. However, the Bank provides accommodations to employees and external partners travelling for Bank business and training. We are committed to reviewing our policies and communications related to travel and transportation, as needed, to ensure they are barrier-free.
Our consultation process: “Nothing about us without us”
The Bank remains committed to building an accessible culture and environment where everyone—including people with disabilities—can participate and grow professionally. Our accessibility plan was developed in consultation with more than 150 employees, including employees with disabilities and their allies.
We heard from our employees and Bank teams involved in helping achieve accessibility goals in several ways:
- We conducted a Bank-wide survey.
- We invited employees with disabilities to share feedback in a focus group or interview session.
- We launched a working group composed of representatives from Procurement, Facilities Management, Communications, Human Resources, Information Technology Services, the Enabled employee resource group and the Bank of Canada Museum.
We also looked at outside sources and feedback from external stakeholders. These include:
- organizations serving people with disabilities to review and improve the Museum’s physical space, programs and services
- external reviews arranged by the Facilities Management team of the accessibility of our offices across Canada
- the CNIB Foundation—on designing accessible bank notes for those who are blind or partially sighted
We will continue to consult with our working group and key partners and to survey employees, including those with disabilities, to ensure that we realize the change we’ve set out to achieve.
Accessibility: The degree of ease that something (e.g., device, service, physical environment and information) can be accessed, used and enjoyed by persons with disabilities. The term implies conscious planning, design or effort to make sure something is barrier-free to persons with disabilities. Accessibility also benefits the general population by making things more usable and practical for everyone, including older people and families with small children.5
Barrier: The Accessible Canada Act defines a barrier as “anything—including anything physical, architectural, technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or communications or anything that is the result of a policy or a practice—that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment or a functional limitation.”
Disability: The Accessible Canada Act defines a disability as “any impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment—or a functional limitation—whether permanent, temporary or episodic in nature, or evident or not, that, interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society.”