Accessibility: The Algonquin Forestry Authority

Accessibility Plan 2015-2025

Revision Date: December 22, 2015

Message from the General Manager

The AFA has a long and proud history of providing goods and services to the people of Ontario through the activities required to deliver our forestry mandate in Algonquin Provincial Park. The variety of goods and services we provide range from raw wood products to employment and information on sustainable forest management practices.  The frequency of our encounters with people with disabilities is very different than with a large organization of many employees who encounter the general public in their everyday business.  That does not lessen our responsibility to be aware of and respect the needs of employees, clients and the public with disabilities.  Much of the work we have done to date in this area has been to adopt a modern formal policy, train staff and upgrade our public website and post materials to meet accessibility requirements.

This accessibility plan is a roadmap to the Authority’s achievement of accessibility objectives and meeting policy commitments. The plan begins with the identification and removal of barriers within the timelines described by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005; it is reviewed and updated as practices or procedures change or as described herein, and endorsed by the AFA Board of Directors.

The Algonquin Forestry Authority’s statement of commitment is contained within its policy statement (2009):

“AFA strives to provide its goods and services, at all times, in a way which respects the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. AFA is committed to providing people with disabilities the same opportunities to access our goods and services and allow them to benefit from the same services as other customers.”

This plan and our efforts must comply with AODA, 2005, Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Ont. Reg. 429/07) and Integrated Accessibility Standards (Ont. Reg. 191/11)

Jeff Leavey, General Manager
December 2015.

Definitions

Accessibility – The term accessibility means giving people of all abilities opportunities to participate fully in everyday life.  It is used to describe how widely a service, product, device, or environment is available to as many people as possible.  Accessibility can be seen as the ability to access and benefit from a system, service, product or environment.

Barrier – Barriers are obstacles that limit access and prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society.  Most barriers are not intentional.  Barriers usually arise because the needs of people with disabilities are not considered from the beginning.

Disability – Ontario’s accessibility law adopts the definition for disability that is in the Ontario Human Rights Code.  It defines disability broadly:

  1. “any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and , without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,
  2. a condition of mental impairment or developmental disability,
  3. a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
  4. a mental disorder, or
  5. an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

AFA Accessibility Plan – Strategies, Responsibilities and Timelines for Delivery

  • General

Reporting – Review AFA accessibility plan every two years and report on progress to the AFA Board of Directors – Provide government compliance report every two years.  Conduct formal 5 year review by January 1, 2019.   Responsibilities and Timelines:  General Manager, AFA Board of Directors as per required timelines.

Review and Update Policy – as practices or procedures change, or annually.  Post and distribute to all employees.  Post on AFA public website.  Responsibilities and Timelines:  General Manager, annually by year end.

  • Customer Service

Feedback Processes for Employees and the Public – Accessibility policy and feedback forms are posted for public viewing and available on the website.  Front line office staff are trained to work with people with disabilities to identify ways to meet their needs.  Review and update ways to seek feedback and input on accessibility provisions from employees and the public.  Assess their effectiveness and implement accordingly.  Establish a formal customer service team in 2016.  Responsibility and Timelines:  General Manager/Board endorsement of plan/policy renewal 2017 (every two years).

Barrier Identification – as information becomes apparent due to feedback or improved understanding of limitations to accessibility.  Determine accessibility need and effective strategies to mitigate barriers.  Responsibility and Timelines:  AFA Customer Service Team 2016, General Manager/Board endorsement of plan/policy renewal 2017 (every two years).

  • Information and Communications

Emergency and Public Safety Information -  Assign Health & Safety Committee accessibility criterion to include in formal workplace inspections, including office evacuation plans and maps and any other public safety information.  Responsibilities and Timelines:  General Manager/VHSC by year-end 2016.

Information for the General Public – interaction with the public is ongoing.  Every two years review requests for documentation and ensure those frequently provided are in an accessible format.  Review industry/government standards and effective tools and recommend revisions as required to improve accessibility.  Responsibilities and Timelines:  AFA Customer Service Team, General Manager/VHSC by year-end 2016.

  • Employment

Complete determination of restrictive/specialized job functions with potential barriers to accessibility.  Responsibilities and Timelines:  General Manager/AFA Board by year-end 2017.

Standardize accessibility wording for job advertisements. Responsibilities and Timelines: General Manager by year-end 2016.

  • Procurement and Training

Build accessibility planning into existing strategic business planning and budgetary processes. Responsibilities and Timelines: General Manager, April 2016.

Provide training to new staff in Ontario’s accessibility laws and aspects of Ontario Human Rights Code that relate to persons with disabilities and their specific roles. Responsibilities and Timelines:  General Manager to review and provide report with two-year compliance report.

  • Required Reporting and Significant Task Timelines

Accessibility Compliance Reports are required every two years:

December 31, 2015, December 31, 2017, December 31, 2019, December 31, 2021, December 31, 2023, December 31, 2025.

All websites and web content must be accessible by January 1, 2021.