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Government of Manitoba
Disabilities Issues Office

Manitoba Policy on Access to Government (MPAG)

  1. Why is accessibility important?
  2. What is MPAG?
  3. What does this mean for service providers? 
  4. Active offer
  5. What does this mean for persons with disabilities?
  6. Which services are affected by MPAG?
    a) Providing Information
    b) Hosting Events
    c) Providing Customer Service
  7. Access_Brochure_coverAccessibility Tools
  8. Additional Resources

 

1. Why is accessibility important?

More than 15% of the provincial population faces barriers that prevent full participation.  These barriers come at an enormous cost – to seniors and persons with disabilities, to their family and friends and to their communities. In some cases the disabilities are visible, involving the use of a wheelchair or guide dog.  In many other cases, the disabilities are invisible, including mental health issues and chronic pain. 

Making services, information and events disability-friendly demonstrates equality and respect. It creates a community that is inviting to young and old.  Providing accessibility to persons with disabilities is good business!  

This website offers tips and tools for creating access.  The information was gathered to assist government staff.  However, business, non-government organizations and individual citizens may also find useful tips and contacts to enhance inclusion of Manitobans with disabilities.


The Government of Manitoba is committed to an inclusive way of thinking and acting … Through recognition and support, Manitoba strives to provide meaningful involvement and equal access to the benefits of citizenship. Manitobans with disabilities have the right to goods and services which will give them equality of opportunity and outcome.

Principles 2 and 4 from Full Citizenship:  A Manitoba Provincial Strategy on Disability.

2. What is MPAG?

Policy Statement: 

The  Manitoba Policy on Access to Government Publications, Events, and Services instructs the quality of interaction between government bodies and Manitobans with disabilities when providing information, organizing events (including public meetings), and offering services.

The policy is aimed at eliminating barriers faced by Manitobans with disabilities.  It addresses the way people with disabilities are treated by government, but does not address program entitlements.  

The purpose of MPAG is to ensure that people with disabilities benefit from equal access to:

  1. Public information:  in print and on-line 
  2. Public events:  meetings, hearings, and community consultations
  3. Customer service

3.  What does this mean for service providers?

Disability accommodations depend both on the individual and the circumstances.  The onus is on government to inform the public that access to government may be improved by reasonably accommodating individual needs in a respectful and timely manner. 

Alternate formats of print information and other accommodations can generally be provided in the most cost-effective format that reasonably addresses the communication and disability related needs of the person making the request.

Notify the consumer what, if any, delay is required to provide an accommodation, for instance to obtain Braille. 

Charges to individuals requiring disability accommodations are never higher than cost charged to other citizens. 

4. Active Offer

Government invites requests for accommodations through “the active offer.”  This sign may be displayed in public reception areas of government offices:

active offer

When addressing an individual with a disability, a service provider may ask if he or she requires any accommodations.  When addressing the public, the service provider should invite requests for disability accommodations.  For example, all printed documents should state in legible font (i.e. black, 14 Arial) on either the front or back cover, or with contact information:

Available in alternate formats, upon request.

5. What does this mean for persons with disabilities?

If you are a person with a disability and you want access to government, information, public events or accessible service, the province invites you to make your accommodation needs known. Some disability accommodations may require advance notice. 
If your need relates to a specific department or government area, make direct contact and:

  • Request information in the format that meets your needs. Please be aware that some formats, like Braille, will take some time to produce. You will be told how long you might have to wait.
  • Give advance notice to the organizers of a public event of the disability accommodations you require in order to participate.
  • Expect service that is respectful and reasonably accommodates your needs.

If you have requested an accommodation, and you have not received a timely response, please contact the supervisor of that government area. If you still do not receive a response, contact the Disabilities Issues Office (DIO).  

If the problem cannot be resolved internally, or with the assistance of the DIO, you may refer a complaint to the Manitoba Ombudsman’s Office. 

If your equality rights have been violated on the basis of disability, the complaint may be referred to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.


Reasonable Accommodation

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission describes reasonable accommodation as an often “simple and inexpensive change to how something is typically done, which  takes into account a need a person or group has that is based on a protected characteristic.”   The MHRC reviews human rights complaints according to both the process used to identify and explore accommodation options for a special need, as well as any substantive decision on the requested accommodation.

6. Which services are affected by MPAG?access_brochure_photo

6. a) Providing Information

Short, clear sentences benefit everyone.  Many other disability accommodations may be provided at equally low or no cost. Two of the main sources of government information are print and the internet.  Access to these may be limited by eyesight, physical ability to handle documents or access to computers.  Persons with disabilities may request other formats including:

  • Large print, easy-to-read documents, for example in black 14 Arial font.  Avoid italics and fancy script.
  • Audio publications recorded on compact disc, MP3 or other recording device.
  • Descriptive narration: with explanations of all charts, graphs, pictures, graphics and other visual components in documents on film and video;
  • Braille - a reading system using raised dots read by touch;
  • Plain language:  defined by results, including information that is easy to read, understand, and use.  Characteristics include short sentences, common everyday words and logical organization of information with the reader in mind.

Be sure to note on printed documents that the information is available in alternate formats upon request.  Template for active offer:

You may wish to display the universal disability access symbols on posters and print documents. These can be downloaded at
https://www.graphicartistsguild.org/resources/disability-access-symbols/

(Please note that the Disability Access Symbols were produced by the Graphic Artists Guild Foundation with support and technical assistance from the Office for Special Constituencies, National Endowment for the Arts.)

Language accompanying the disability access symbols should focus on the accommodation or service, not on who uses it. Language should promote dignity.  Examples:

  • "Ramped Entrance" beside the wheelchair symbol to indicate the accessible pathway
  • "Reserved Parking" or "Accessible Parking" beside the wheelchair symbol to show that parking spaces designated for people with mobility disabilities

Further information can be found in the Clear Print Accessibility Guidelines produced by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind at
http://www.cnib.ca/en/services/resources/clearprint/

Making on-line information accessible

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) explain how to make Web content more accessible, including text, images, forms and sounds.  They are available on-line at:  
http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php

Information about web access for persons who are visually impaired can also be found in the Canadian National Institute for the Blind at: 
http://www.cnib.ca/en/services/resources/accessible_webdesign/

Information and tools of the Government of Canada’s commitment to web accessibility may be found at Common Look and Feel for the Internet 2.0: 
http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/clf2-nsi2/index-eng.asp

Making audio and spoken materials accessible

The world of technology has opened up many options for persons with hearing-related needs. Texting and emailing provide instant access to information.  Telephoning using TTY (Tele-typewriters/Telecommunication Device for the Deaf) is used more rarely, but still offers a communication alternative. 

Captioning: Films and videos can be captioned, a process that transmits spoken words so they appear as written text on the bottom of the screen.  Closed captioning requires the use of a decoder, while open captioning requires no special equipment.

American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation:  Information offered in presentations, on film or video should be translated into ASL for persons who are Deaf.  Captioning is helpful, but English is a second language to members of the Deaf community.

Suppliers of captioning and ASL interpretation can be found in Manitoba Suppliers of Accommodation Services.

6. b) Hosting Events

Well planned events help to ensure full participation with networks of colleagues, stakeholders and the public. Fully inclusive events build community and make good sense!

Advance planning and budgeting are essential to respond to requests for disability accommodations.   For information on disability accommodations to consider see: Glossary of Accommodations.  

Contact suppliers directly to discuss costsManitoba Suppliers of Accommodation Services

The Checklist for Planning Accessible Events lists tasks required to make events inclusive.

The Chairperson & Presenter Guidelines provide helpful hints for public speakers to set an inclusive tone.

6. c) Providing Customer Service

Respectful in-person service acknowledges the diversity of Manitobans and their needs. The following tips assist in providing good customer service: 

  • Ask before you help.
  • Be sensitive about physical contact (many persons who use wheelchairs consider the chair to be part of their personal space).
  • Speak directly to the persons with disabilities, not to whomever is with them.
  • Do not make assumptions about needs or preferences.
  • Plan ahead for anticipated accommodation requests and develop procedures to meet disability-related needs. 
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