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Toward greater inclusion and equity: Accessibility Plan 2023–2025

This plan captures accessibility at the CMHR today and our way forward: work we have done, work we are doing, and work we intend to do.

1. General

This plan is based on our commitment at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) to human rights and living the fundamental principle that we are all born free and equal in dignity and rights. Our obligations under the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) provide a framework to identify and eliminate barriers to accessibility so we can prevent and actively address discrimination against persons with disabilities. This plan captures accessibility at the CMHR today and our way forward: work we have done, work we are doing, and work we intend to do. 

We will review and update this plan often and do so in the spirit of consultation and collaboration. 

We welcome input and feedback about accessibility at the CMHR and this plan. Feedback can be submitted anonymously to: 

Haran Vijayanathan
Director, Equity and Growth
85 Israel Asper Way Winnipeg, MB R3C 0L5 
Phone: 204–289‑2000 
Toll‐free: 1–877–877-6037 
TTY: 204–289‑2050 

1.1. Summary

The CMHR was designed based on the principle of providing universal access to its experiences, regardless of age, background or ability. Inclusion has been a methodology and accessibility, an outcome. 

From the outset, our built design, exhibitions and all aspects of operations have been informed by the Smithsonian guidelines for inclusive and accessible design and those implemented by other leaders in our sector including the Musée de la civilisation in Québec City and the Science Museum in London, England. We also adhere to the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) web‐based accessibility standards and the most stringent criteria under both the provincial and national building codes.

Based on the principle of “nothing without us,” we have worked with people living with disabilities and experts in all aspects of our work, including an internal staff group, an external advisory council and community organizations and public entities actively engaged in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities and human rights as a whole from across the country. We have also created a national testing group to ensure that accessibility standards are met and continue to be maintained.

Starting immediately and throughout 2023–24 and 2024–25, we will:

  • Develop plans to renovate an event space on Level 1 to add ramp access at its exit.
  • Implement additional tactile floor markers in public and office spaces. 
  • Develop plans to renovate all gender‐inclusive washrooms to provide greater privacy and ensure that accessibility is maintained in all spaces. Renovations will be phased starting with the Level 1 public washrooms. 
  • Assess and update technologies on an ongoing basis, including reviewing induction loop technology in all galleries, and proactively communicate accessibility features to the public. 
  • Review website accessibility.
  • Optimize the accessibility features of our existing software, including Word, Excel, Power Point, Teams and other communication platforms, and create an accessibility standard for use of these tools. 
  • Review and revise procurement policy to strengthen expectations and accountabilities around ethical and inclusive business practices, and to assess other barriers that may preclude access by persons with disabilities and others. 

This plan is a living document and will be updated at the end of each calendar year. As we approach a decade of operations, our priority is to ensure that our team is representative of community and that we have a comprehensive, ongoing audit and assessment process that ensures that our workplace is inclusive and that the experiences we provide to the public remain designed to provide an unparalleled visitor experience to all.

1.2. Our Commitment

The CMHR’s mandate to explore human rights in Canada and beyond, to enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, promote respect for others, and encourage reflection and dialogue. Located in Winnipeg, on Treaty One Territory at the crossroads of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers and in the birthplace of the Métis, the CMHR continues to be a gathering place dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. 

As with all of Canada’s national museums, the CMHR plays an essential role in:

  • Preserving and promoting our heritage at home and abroad; 
  • Contributing to the collective memory and sense of identity of all Canadians; and 
  • Being a source of inspiration, research, learning and entertainment that belongs to all Canadians.

This plan captures our universal design approach to ensure every person is able to join us on our journey of creating a world where everyone values the importance of human rights and takes responsibility for promoting respect and dignity for all. 

1.3. Alternative Formats

You can request alternative formats of this plan and a description of our feedback process by contacting the primary contact of this plan.

The Museum commits to providing the following alternative formats within 15 business days of receiving a request for them:

  • Print 
  • Large print (increased font size) 

1.4. Definitions

The following definitions apply throughout this plan:

  • Disability: Any impairment or difference in physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, or communication ability. Disabilities can be permanent or temporary and can change over time. 
  • Barrier: Anything that might hinder full and equal participation by people with disabilities. Barriers can be architectural, technological, attitudinal, based on information or communications, or the result of a policy or procedure. 
  • Accessibility: The design of products, devices, services, environments, technologies, policies and rules in a way that allows all people, including people with a variety of disabilities, to access them. 

2. Areas Described Under Section 5 of the ACA

2.1. Built Environment

We have identified two areas in which we can remove barriers in our built environment. One of our event spaces on Level 1 includes stairs without a ramp access at an exit, and therefore limiting the ability for individuals using mobility devices to evacuate that space easily in case of an emergency. We will develop a plan in 2023–24 and will implement any construction or redesign in 2024–25. In addition, given the shape and layout of our floor plan, we have identified the need for additional tactile floor markers in our public spaces as well as in our office areas. We will implement additional markers in 2023–24. 

The CMHR has an Accessible Drop‐off Entrance that allows individuals to be dropped off in close proximity to the main entry doors. There are four accessible parking stalls adjacent to the Accessible Drop‐off Entrance as well as additional accessible parking along Israel Asper Way. 

All three main entrances to the building (Group Entrance, Main Entrance and Accessible Drop‐off Entrance) have an intercom system that enables visitors to connect with security if they require assistance. Secondary public entrances to and from the restaurant patio and outdoor terraces, between and throughout the galleries and office spaces are accessible to people using wheeled devices and people who prefer not to use stairs. Motorized and manual chairs as well as scooters are available free of charge on a first‐come, first‐served basis at the Level 1 Coat Check.

Wayfinding signage throughout the building is also in braille. All galleries can be accessed through a series of inclined ramps with resting spots at regular intervals, or by an elevator with audio announcements and braille and floor markers that stops at all gallery levels, Levels 2 through 7, or an additional Tower Elevator that serves Level 3 through Level 8. 

All of our theatres and exhibitions with seating offer a choice of bench seating and seating with backs and arms, and ample space to ambulate is built into the design of all galleries and exhibitions. 

All washrooms are gender‐inclusive and washrooms on Levels 1 through 3 and Levels 5 through 7 include at least one large, barrier‐free, single‐room washroom. The single‐room washroom behind the Level 1 Coat Check is equipped with an adult‐sized change table and motorized transfer lift and all other single‐room washrooms are equipped with baby change tables. 

In 2023–24, we will develop plans to renovate all gender‐inclusive washrooms to provide greater privacy and will ensure that accessibility is maintained in all spaces. Renovations will be phased through to 2024–25, with renovations to the Level 1 public washrooms in 2023–24. 

2.2. Employment

Although no significant barriers for persons with disabilities have been identified in the workplace, recruitment of persons with disabilities, in particular people with physical disabilities and mobility restrictions, and mental disabilities, including intellectual and cognitive disabilities, is a priority. 

Recently, we implemented a flexible work model that maintains an active offer of accommodation, during recruitment and onboarding through employment. There is also an individualized safety planning process for those needing supports to evacuate during emergencies. All human resources staff are trained to support management in responding to requests for accommodation on the basis of disability and any other ground protected by legislation. 

Training is provided to all staff on the Accessibility for Manitobans Act Customer Service Standards, human rights law basics and equity training, ergonomics, and other industry‐specific training. Administrative staff and other select staff groups receive training on creating accessible documents and presentations in addition to understanding the process and requesting supports as needed. 

Additional accessibility training is being planned for all staff in 2023–24. A learning and development program is being developed that will include accessibility training, as well as content around disability rights, equity and other topics in 2023–24. 

All policies and procedures require review to ensure they use plain language and are available in accessible formats in 2023–24. All staff in leadership positions will also be trained on accommodations policies and procedures in 2023–24. 

2.3. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

We have identified the need to assess and update technologies on an ongoing basis, including reviewing induction loop technology in all galleries. We have also identified the need to more proactively communicate accessibility features to the public. 

Currently, we offer a fully accessible, self‐guided museum tour through our free mobile application that uses American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ). The tour is downloadable using our free Wi‐Fi or alternatively, it is installed on iPods available for free for visitor use. 

Induction loops are installed at the Ticketing and Information Desk (box office area). Because of a lack of adequate power sources in the original design for some theatre spaces, induction loops are not installed in these areas. Rather, neck loops, which connect to accessibility stations in the theatres and at digital kiosks throughout the galleries, are available on request. 

A Braille Gallery Guide is available upon request at the Ticketing and Information Desk, containing tactile maps of the galleries and English and French braille. 

All static exhibition content, as well as audio tours, can be accessed through tactile markers called Universal Access Points (UAP). UAPs are located intuitively throughout exhibition areas. The markers are digitally enabled by a mobile device carried by the visitor and consist of raised numbers and braille codes that trigger audio. 

Near every touchscreen interface is a Universal Keypad (UKP) that allows visitors to experience the digital content in touchscreen interfaces through accessible tactile controls and voiced instructions.

There are two types of UKPs:

  • Interactive UKPs – are located near every touchscreen interface and allow visitors to access the full functionality of the interactive exhibits. They include: 
    • Basic volume controls 
    • Access to descriptive audio tracks through headphones plugged into an audio jack 
    • A directional keypad for menu navigation, which provides zoom functionality
  • Audio UKPs – are located in theatre benches and at video monitors that are not navigable and include: 
    • Basic volume controls
    • Access to descriptive audio tracks through headphones plugged into an audio jack

UKPs can be found by way of tactile floor strips near their location.

All videos with spoken words (excluding music lyrics) are interpreted via ASL and LSQ on screen by members of the Deaf community. For some exhibits, the ASL and LSQ is delivered through the mobile app. 

All exhibits adhere to strict graphic standards including fonts chosen for maximum legibility and clarity. Type sizes, placement and even small details such as paragraph alignment and line lengths are considered to make content easier to read. Colour contrast and Light Reflectance Value contrasts ensure sufficient contrast between the text and background to make text easier to read. 

All videos contain descriptive audio, using a narrator to read on‐screen text out loud, as well as to give a description of what is happening on screen.

Also, automated voice dubbings use descriptive audio as a means of dialogue and narration translation allowing visitors to understand what is being said, even if the video is not in their first language of English or French. All videos with spoken words (excluding music lyrics) also have closed captioning in both English and French. 

We are reviewing our website in 2023–24 to ensure we continue to meet accessibility standards and the website is easy to navigate. The process will include members from the disability community to ensure we redesign the site in a user‐friendly way for those living with disabilities. 

We will also review current technology and identify opportunities to enhance and/or replace technologies where applicable in 2023–24. Any measures will be implemented in 2024–25. 

2.4. Communications, Other Than ICT

We have identified the need to better optimize the accessibility features in our existing software and over the first quarter of 2023–24, will be reviewing our Word, Excel, Power Point, Teams and other communication platforms to ensure we are maximizing their potential. Training has begun for staff on the existing documents and a standard will be created to ensure all of our communication tools outside of ICT are accessible in 2023–24. Electronic newsletters and other communications, including social media, are designed with accessibility in mind. 

We are exploring the use of alt text in our exhibitions to ensure visitors, primarily those with low or no vision, are able to engage with in‐gallery and virtual exhibits as fully as possible. We will engage the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to assist us with the review and develop a strategy in 2023–24. Measures will be considered for implementation in 2024–25. 

2.5. Procurement of Goods, Services and Facilities

We have identified the need to review and revise our current procurement policy to strengthen expectations and accountabilities around ethical and inclusive business practices, and to assess other barriers that may preclude access by persons with disabilities and others. A review will be conducted in 2023–24 with updates and/or amendments to the policy to be implemented in 2024–25.

2.6. Design and Delivery of Programs and Services

The design and delivery of programs and services includes the same principles and considerations outlined in the ICT section. All exhibits, educational programming and events consider accessibility in their design. 

In‐person and virtual programs typically include ASL interpretation and/or captioning. 

2.7. Transportation

We do not provide transportation but do support visitors on arrival and departure. Please see built environment section. 

3. Consultations

Since before our opening, a group of advisors comprised of individuals living with disabilities or who work in academia, design and architecture, or with disability‐rights advocacy organizations, have supported the early design and operationalization of the CMHR. With their support and contributions to creating an inclusive space, the CMHR exceeds standards for an institution of its kind.

We have identified the need to continue to evolve the structure with which we consult to appropriately recognize that people with disabilities have many intersecting characteristics and attributes that inform their perspectives and experience. In 2023–24, the CMHR will reconfigure its relationships with advisors to enable more meaningful advice on strategic and operational questions and to ensure that the CMHR continues to reflect the experience of people with disabilities in its work.

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