Accessibility News - What you need to know about Manitoba's accessibility laws.

Issue 28 | December 2022

Manitoba Accessibility Fund 2023/2024

Manitoba Accessibility Fund

The MAF grant program will be launching its second intake from Monday, January 30, 2023 to Friday, March 10, 2023.

Grant applications may request up to a maximum of $50,000 from MAF to complete their proposed project.

All eligible organizations are invited to submit a project application in 2023/24. Grant recipients from the pilot year can submit a new MAF project application during the 2023/24 intake.

Organizations are allowed to submit one application per intake, but may be listed as partners on the applications of other project submissions.

Relevant information about the MAF grant program for 2023/24 and how to apply will be made available online in early January 2023 at:

Please contact, if you have additional questions.

Survey About Digital And Online Interactions With Manitoba Businesses

Access Changes Everything Inc. (ACE), MAF grant recipient in 2022/23, is seeking feedback from people with disabilities living in Manitoba, organizations and interested individuals to share their experiences with digital and online interactions with businesses located in Manitoba. The survey is charting Manitoba business online accessibility. The results will tell us what is being done well, and what needs improvement.

A report about the survey results will be generated. Your input will help inform development of a free digital accessibility resource for local businesses.

To participate:

The survey deadline is January 12, 2023.

The ACE website has more details about the survey:

Spotlight on Manitoba Accessibility Fund Projects: Manoverboard Inc.

Manoverboard’s Make-it-Accessible Website

Author: Andrew Boardman

The Manitoba Accessibility Fund made it possible for our web design studio, Manoverboard, to create a resource for creative professionals seeking digital accessibility guidance.

The resulting website, called Make-It-Accessible, encourages and supports designers, developers, and content creators to build sites everyone can use. We’ve been on a journey to increase our accessibility knowledge and skills since 2005, and we still have more to learn. In fact, we wanted to create the kind of resource that we’ve looked for over the years—a central place to get clear information about how to make websites more accessible. More than that, we wanted to inspire the creative community by building a beautiful, functional, and accessible website that could scale over time.

Although awareness about digital accessibility is growing, it’s been a painfully slow process. According to a 2022 WebAim report, 96.8% of the web’s top one million sites are not fully accessible. Frankly, that’s unacceptable. As designers, I believe it is our job to create inclusive products (both digital and otherwise).

What’s holding us back? Like many others in the broader community, those in the design sector without a disability tend to have an ableist bias. We need more awareness about the ways our design work can exclude a significant portion of the population. But, we also need a shift in mindset. Creative professionals are driven to push technical and visual boundaries in the spirit of innovation. Designing while complying with accessibility standards might feel like a limitation on creativity. Finally, there is no denying that building more accessible websites involves a significant learning curve—and takes additional time, resources, and planning.

We’re hopeful that the Make-It-Accessible site will help to address these challenges. It’s a work in progress, and we invite feedback from folks knowledgeable about accessibility so that we can continue to improve this resource.

As our province looks forward to the rollout of the Information and Communication Standard of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act, resources that guide various sectors about how to comply will make adoption easier. We are very grateful to the Manitoba Accessibility Fund for supporting our accessibility efforts in the digital design community with this project.

The 5 Person Manoverboard's team standing outside of a building

Courtesy of Andrew Boardman & the Manoverboard team

In the News:

Getting around the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport just became easier for people with limited mobility. The Winnipeg Airports Authority announced on Tuesday, December 13 a new tool for patrons of the airport. New autonomous, self-driving wheelchairs navigate travellers through the check-in counter, security, and ultimately deliver them directly to their gate. These wheelchairs will help ease the stress of travellers with limited mobility, while making the airport a more inclusive and accessible environment for all travellers.

To read more, visit the full article:

John McFall is an inspirational individual. At the age of 19, he was in a motorcycle accident that led to his right leg being amputated. He went on to become a Paralympian, a surgeon, and most recently he joined the European Space Agency – making him the world’s first astronaut with a physical disability. McFall will take part in the astronaut training program. As part of his training, he will also take part in a feasibility study to assess the requirements necessary for people with disabilities to complete space missions in the future.

To read more, visit the full article:

CBC - Let’s Discuss Accessibility! From November 2022 to January 2023

Person in wheelchair in front of a tablet, computer, and CBC logo

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is developing its first National Accessibility Plan.

One in five Canadians identifies as having a disability. The barriers faced may be architectural, informational, behavioral, technological, or policy-based in nature.

In collaboration with public libraries across the country, we are opening a dialogue about the needs and priorities of people with disabilities. We want to hear from you about:

· People with disabilities' representation in the media.

· The barriers faced when consuming our content.

· The way we can improve our relationships with different communities.

A summary of the results will be posted on the site when we release our Accessibility Plan between now and June 1, 2023.

There are no in-person sessions scheduled for Manitoba. CBC invites contributions filling out this survey.

To inquire about this process, please contact us at

You can also provide feedback at any time on this page:

Celebrating December 3rd - IDPD 2022: United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

In partnership with the Manitoba Employment Equity Practitioners Association (MEEPA), the Manitoba Accessibility Office (MAO) celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a free webinar on December 1, 2022 from 2 – 3:30 CST. To view the recording, visit the IDPD 2022 event page.

MAO Executive Director Darren Macdonald was the event Emcee. Following the invocation by elder Parry Francois, Deputy Minister Michelle Dubik offered opening remarks on behalf of the Manitoba government. Darren then asked the participants to observe a moment of silence in honour of the lives of three Manitoba disability rights advocates: Jim Derksen, Dave Martin and Len Mitchell. Accessibility News previously commemorated Jim and Dave, who both worked at the Manitoba Accessibility Office and helped develop The Accessibility for Manitobans Act. Len Mitchell was the President of the Canadian Association of the Deaf from 1988-91 and served on the Executive of a number of boards, including the Alberta Association of the Deaf, the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf, and the World Deaf Federation.

Emcee Darren Macdonald introduced Canadian disability rights advocate Steven Estey, who provided an overview of the United Nations’ (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Steven explained how he became involved in developing the CRPD as a staff person of Disabled Peoples International and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, and said that Winnipeg played headquarters to both organizations. Winnipeg’s significant role in the international pursuit of disability rights was later noted by the panelists, two of whom (and the moderator), who all worked for the international disability rights organization.

Steven stated that the CRPD complements other UN human rights instruments. It sets minimum standards of access and inclusion that are required for people with disabilities to enjoy the same rights as their fellow citizens. These directives are organized into “articles” covering 32 different topic areas, with additional articles explaining implementation. Steven offered the example of Article 24 – Education. While everyone has a right to education, unless consideration is given on how students with disabilities can access education, they will not benefit. The CRPD provides guidance to countries around the world on how to accommodate students with disabilities in education.

Steven explained that since Canada ratified the CRPD in 2010, the UN has twice required Canada to report on its progress. As part of this review, Canada collaborates with the Provinces and Territories to submit a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN also invites disabled persons organizations, civil society organizations, and human rights commissions to submit a “Parallel Report” to this group of independent experts. Steven is currently the co-editor of Canada’s second Parallel Report. He said that while the government’s report tends to focus on all the great things that have been accomplished, the non-governmental Parallel Report offers a more critical picture of areas that still need improvement. The Committee reviews both reports and makes recommendations to the government on how to improve CRPD implementation in Canada. Steven concluded that the CRPD reporting process is one of the ways the CRPD influences accessibility and inclusion in Canada.

Following the keynote presentation, former MAO Executive Director, Yutta Fricke, moderated a panel discussion to zoom into the relevance of the CRPD to Manitobans. Panelists Dr. Diane Driedger, Justine Kiwanuka, Mary Lavigne, and Carrie Pacey represent diverse experiences living with visible and invisible disabilities, alongside their unique perspectives as women of settler, immigrant, Métis and Indigenous roots. They each chose one or two articles to offer their unique insights into how the CRPD speaks to disability rights issues that affect them.

Through her work with disability organizations around the world, Diane has come to consider the CRPD as the Magna Carta of disability rights. She explained that in countries without well-developed disability rights, the CRPD has not only influenced law-making, it has become established as law. Diane chose to speak about Article 27 – Work and employment. Diane shared that, because of her invisible disabilities, she sometimes needs to work from home. She recounted how a number of years ago, a new employer denied her this disability accommodation, because he felt her absence from the office during those two days per week would affect the morale of the whole team. Happily, Diane had the option to work somewhere else. Ironically, thanks to COVID, working from home is no longer considered an extraordinary accommodation – it has become the norm!

Mary chose to speak about Article 9 – Accessibility. In her experience, people tend to be aware of physical barriers to accessibility, but are far less aware of how to accommodate people with vision impairments or who are hard-of-hearing. She emphasized how technology can break down those barriers, or sometimes create new ones. She offered an example of how online classes and exams can create new systemic barriers. Mary is looking forward to the impact of Manitoba’s Accessibility Standard for Information and Communications first on the Manitoba government in May 2022 and on the rest of the public and private sectors in subsequent years.

Carrie said that Article 12 – Equal recognition before the law has special meaning for her as an Indigenous woman. She said that her life has been enriched by exploring her Indigenous roots. Carrie provided an example of an incident in which she hoped to apply “Restorative Justice” to teach her teen-age son to respect the property (a fence) of his neighbors. However, she learned this could only be done by first entering criminal court, which was the hammer - versus the educator - of the law that she was looking for. Carrie’s example demonstrated how “intersectionality,” or the multiple identities that define us, influence our experience of human rights.

Justine explained that she was born and raised in Uganda. In 1988, she became Canada’s first refugee with a disability, after St. Mary’s Road United Church promised the government that it would take full financial responsibility. Because Justine was not a citizen, Canada was free to turn down her application for fear that “disability” equalled “burden on society.” This discrimination is why CRPD Article 18 – Liberty of movement and nationality is particularly significant to Justine. In fact, she found employment shortly upon arrival, and she and her daughter continue to contribute to Manitoba’s economy. Justine added that she is also drawn to Article 6 – Women with disabilities because people with disabilities face additional discrimination based on gender, as well as race.

Individuals may contact MAO with any questions and to learn more about how to contribute to the Parallel Report on Canada’s implementation of the CRPD. Many thanks to over 380 registrants for your interest!

Visit the MAO events page to view the IDPD Proclamation where Manitoba acknowledges December 3rd in perpetuity as the international Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Hello and Goodbye

Manitoba Accessibility Office Staffing Updates

Wendy Harrisko joined the Manitoba Accessibility Office on December 12, 2022 as Communications and Engagement Specialist. Please join us in welcoming Wendy to her new role!

Jeffrey Aquino is leaving his role as MAF Financial & Administrative Clerk on December 16, 2022. He is rejoining the Financial Administration and Support Branch of the Department of Families. A big thank you to Jeffrey for all your work during the MAF pilot year and best wishes in your new position!

Maria Ferraro joined the MAO in October 2022 in the role of Senior Policy Analyst, Secretary to the Accessibility Advisory Council.


Manitoba Accessibility Office