Accessibility Policy and Plans – What & How

In a diverse society that values diversity and inclusion, there will be citizens, students, customers, target audiences, and important participates of all diversity types. Disability is one major type of Diversity, and physical disability limits a person’s ability and cause barriers. Accessibility means that people can do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as someone that does not have a disability. It means that people are empowered, can be independent, and will not be frustrated by something that is poorly designed or implemented.

In this guide, you will learn about accessibility including below:

  • What is an accessibility policy?
  • What is an Accessibility Plan?
  • Why is Accessibility Important?
  • What are the differences between Accessibility policies and Accessibility Plans?
  • Who creates the Accessibility plans and policy?

Why is Accessibility Important?

There is 1 in 7 people have a disability (visible or nonvisible). And around 15% of the world’s population, that’s about 1 Billion people. A majority of world’s disability are non-visible, which is about 70%. Therefore, it is imporatnt that we take care of the 15% of people who has such needs.

Why is Accessibility Important in the workplace and good for business?

Accessibility Policy

An in-place accessibility policy will help in identifying an organization’s commitment to reaching its accessibility goals. Private and non-profit organizations with more than 50 employees and all public-sector organizations must have an accessibility policy in writing. These sectors must also make their policy available to the public.

An inclusive workplace poicy should be

  1. Representation– the presence of employees with disability across a range of employee roles and leadership positions
  2. Receptivity – respect for differences in working styles and flexibility in tailoring positions to strengths and abilities
  3. Fairness– Equitable access to all resources, opportunities, networks and decision making process

Accessibility Plan

An accessibility plan outlines the steps that your organization will take to prevent and remove barriers to accessibility and how the requirements of the regulation will be met.

If you belong to an organization other than a small organization, you must:

  • Establish, implement, document, and maintain a multi-year accessibility plan.
  • Post the accessibility plan on your website, if you have one, and provide the plan in an accessible format on request.
  • Review and update the accessibility plan at least once every five years.

The organization should also:

  • Establish, review, and update your accessibility plan in consultation with people with disabilities.
  • Prepare an annual status update on your progress in implementing your plan, including steps taken to comply with the requirements of the regulation.
  • Publicly post the status update on your website, if you have one, and provide it in an accessible format on request.

What’s the difference between an accessibility plan and policy?

An accessibility policy states what rules or principles an organization will put in place to support achieving its accessibility goals.

An accessibility plan describes the actions an organization will take to prevent and remove barriers and when it will do so. An accessibility plan creates a road map for an organization to increase accessibility. It’s the actions that support an organization’s commitment to accessibility and its accessibility policies.

Accessibility in procurement

It’s also important to incorporate accessibility criteria into procurement and buying practices. This may make a significant impact on preventing new accessibility barriers and addressing existing ones.

This requirement applies to the Government of Ontario, the Legislative Assembly, and designated public sector organizations, which must:

  • Incorporate accessibility design, criteria and features in procurement, except where it is not practicable to do so; for example, technological compatibility between older products and newer ones being procured.
  • Provide an explanation, on request, as to why accessibility design, criteria and features were not practicable to incorporate into the procurement; for example, when accessible goods, services, or facilities are not available.

Who creates the Accessibility Policy and Accessibility Plan?

In most cases, the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of the organization would create the accessibility Policy and Plan.

How to create an Accessibility Plan?

In this section, you will find the best online resources to create an accessibility plan in different countries.

Canada Accessibility

Manitoba Accessibility Acts – how to create accessibility plans in Manitoba

Ontario AODA – Ontario Accessibility Act, policy and plans

British Columbia Accessibility

Australia Accessibility Plan

Australian Museum Accessibility

Australian Department of Health Accessibility

Australian Network on Disability – how to create an Accessibility Action Plan

United Kingdom Accessibility Plan

Make your services accessible

Legislation accessibility plan

United States Accessibility plan

Accessibility Plan

Ireland Accessibility Plan

Ireland Accessibility plan

FAQ about Accessibility

An in-place accessibility policy will help in identifying an organization’s commitment to reaching its accessibility goals.

An accessibility plan outlines the steps that your organization will take to prevent and remove barriers to accessibility and how the requirements of the regulation will be met.

An accessibility plan describes the actions an organization will take to prevent and remove barriers and when it will do so. An accessibility plan creates a road map for an organization to increase accessibility.

An accessibility policy states what rules or principles an organization will put in place to support achieving its accessibility goals.

A culture of respect where it is safe for everyone to bring their authentic, whoe selves to work.

An inclusive community:

  • Indicates a climate in which respect, equity, positive recognition of differences are cultivated
  • Response to disability poses no barrier to a positive employment experience
  • full integration of diverse people into a workplace

A good accessiblity policy should encourage and cover

  1. Representation– the presence of employees with disability across a range of employee roles and leadership positions
  2. Receptivity – respect for differences in working styles and flexibility in tailoring positions to strengths and abilities
  3. Fairness– Equitable access to all resources, opportunities, networks and decision making process

What’s New in Accessibility Policy [2020]

About the author

Jess Man

Jessica is the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Diversity Advisor at Diversity Social. Jessica has over 10 years of working with and advising employers to be more diverse and create an inclusive working environment.
Jessica's experience spans private and non-profit sectors in multiple industries.
Jessica's expertise experience is beyond Diversity & Inclusion, she is also a certified professional IT recruiter in Data & Analytics, Database administration, Artificial Intelligence area.