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Planning Accessible Meetings

Resources and tips to make accessible meetings easier to plan

By Sandra Eagle

According to Statistics Canada, about 4.4 million Canadians reported having a disability in 2006. With an aging baby boomer population, those numbers are about to swell in the next decade or so. We’ve rounded up some resources and tips to make accessible meetings easier to plan.

1. A Way with words: Words are powerful, so you need to be careful when using terminology in promotions, press releases and meeting materials, in print and online. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada have a lexicon of appropriate words and general guidelines for the portrayal and communication for people with disabilities. 

2. Access Guide Canada: This online resource highlights accessible public places, disability organizations and resources in Canada, arranged geographically. Businesses and individuals are encouraged to add to the listings.

3. Show me the way: Disability access symbols instantly advertise the type of services available at your meeting or event. You can get a complete set of free symbols in TIFF format in a zip file at:

4. Real-time text: Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) allows deaf or hard of hearing individuals to view a real-time text translation of conversation using computer aided transcription software. CART services can be provided for a single person or for a group, and can provide translations for multiple breakout sessions. 

5. Need to know: As of January 2012, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) became law. The province will develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment buildings and structures before January 1, 2025. If you are an Ontario business with more than 20 employees, you will need to report on your accessibility compliance.

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