Accessibility: Our Plans for the Future
Blog post by Director and CEO Simon Brault
On December 3, we celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The United Nations established this day in 1992. Since then, much progress has been made in society thanks to the advocacy and work of people who have long-faced inaccessibility in their lives.
Since I joined the Council eight years ago, I’ve learned a great deal about the challenges and benefits of accessibility. In part, that’s thanks to my colleagues and artists who have been active on that front. Fortunately, a lot has changed in these eight years. For example, when I first joined the Council, the organization did not recognize Deaf and disability arts practices. The advice and recommendations I received from many people convinced me that formal recognition of the discipline was necessary to make up for historic lapses and to break down systemic barriers.
Accessibility is now recognized and regulated in the Accessible Canada Act, which has been in effect since 2019. Organizations under federal jurisdiction must comply with the Act by removing and preventing barriers to accessibility. This is excellent news.
The Council will publish an accessibility plan every three years. Our first plan will be available on our website in mid-December 2022. This plan has benefitted from the input of both the arts sector and our staff.
What we’ve accomplished so far
The Council’s commitment to accessibility doesn’t stem from a legal obligation—it’s part of a long-standing commitment, and it’s a vital part of our vision for the future of the arts.
Equity is also one of the Council’s ongoing commitments, and it’s essential to the future of the arts. It was also the starting point for the Council’s strategy to advance the practices of Deaf and disability artists.
We launched our flagship strategy, Expanding the Arts, in 2012. It supported the full recognition of Deaf and disability artists and the arts organizations that work with them across Canada. It allowed us to provide targeted funding and support during the application process for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, or living with a disability or mental illness.
We launched a second version, Expanding the Arts II, in 2019. We can see the progress accessibility and the recognition of human rights have made in just a few years. Over the years, we have become aware of the many needs and issues that impact accessibility. In fact, equity and inclusion are central to our 2021–2026 strategic plan, Art, now more than ever.
Your feedback and collaboration
To make the best decisions possible, we need to consult the people who will be the most directly impacted. We will implement a feedback process with our accessibility plan that will be crucial to our accessibility work in the coming years.
I want to thank everyone who has taken our surveys over the years. Without you, we wouldn’t understand accessibility as deeply as we do today.
Of course, we still have a lot to learn about accessibility. We remain committed to listening and learning so that we can make the Council even more accessible – and contribute to a more accessible society overall. We look forward to hearing from you when we launch our accessibility plan and its feedback process.