Beginning Sept. 1, 2022, more than 750 public-sector organizations will start establishing accessibility committees, accessibility plans and public-feedback mechanisms as required under the new Accessible British Columbia Regulation.
These organizations include school districts, post-secondary institutions, public libraries and local governments.
“In B.C., there are more than 926,000 people with disabilities who face barriers in their daily lives when accessing services,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “As the population ages, that number is going to increase. Through this regulation, government is helping organizations become more accessible for the benefit of the employees who work there and the people they serve.”
When the Accessible British Columbia Act came into effect in June 2021, these requirements applied only to core government operations. The new regulation extends these requirements to other organizations.
“For too long, people with disabilities have had to live with too many barriers,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “Integrating accessibility into every area of everyday life is key to building a better community for everyone. The new regulation is a big step toward a more accessible B.C.”
To support public-sector organizations to meet the legal requirements, government is providing $3 million over three years. Funding will be administered by Disability Alliance BC.
Accessibility requirements will be implemented in a phased approach based on each organization’s reach, capacity and effect on the lives of people with disabilities. In Phase 1, 754 public-sector organizations are being asked to meet compliance by Sept. 1, 2023. In Phase 2, 33 public-sector organizations will have until Sept. 1, 2024, to comply.
The regulation also requires the B.C. government to formally recognize AccessAbility Week annually. This year, AccessAbility Week will run from May 29 to June 4. The week recognizes the people, communities and organizations in B.C. that are actively increasing opportunities and removing barriers, so people of all abilities have a better chance to succeed.