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

Issue 32 | April 2023

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act 5-Year Review

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) became law in December 2013 and provides a clear and proactive process for identifying, preventing and removing barriers. Physical, communication and systemic barriers prevent a significant portion of Manitobans from fully participating in society. The act aims to eliminate barriers by developing accessibility standards for government, public and private-sector organizations including municipalities, businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

The AMA is reviewed every five years. The Honourable Rochelle Squires, the Minister responsible for Accessibility, has appointed Sarah Lugtig as the independent reviewer. She will analyze the effectiveness of the act, with a focus on reviewing initiatives already taken under the act and the structures that support it. The final report, with recommendations, will be completed before the end of the year.

Public Forums:

As part of this review, in-person public forums will be hosted. These public forums will be an opportunity for you to provide your input on the AMA.


Date: April 20, 2023

Time: 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Location: Keystone Centre - 1175 18th Street Unit 1, Brandon, MB


Date: May 2

Time: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Location: Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre - 4 Nelson Road, Thompson, MB


Date: May 15

Time: 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Location: Viscount Gort Hotel - 1670 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB

Each event will be the same session and include small group discussions that will then be summarized and presented to the larger audience, and carefully captured for subsequent analysis. No registration is required to attend these events. For more information on the AMA, visit AccessibilityMB.ca.

If you cannot attend one of these public forums, please note that there will be a virtual public forum in mid-May.

An essential part of planning the forums is ensuring their accessibility. Each event will have accessibility measures such as Braille documents, ASL, Closed Captioning and the provision of personal care attendants. To assist with our planning, please email mao@gov.mb.ca or phone: 204-945-7613, Toll-free: 1-800-282-8069, Ext. 7613, if you plan to attend one of the public forums and require accessibility measures to access the event.

Provide Your Feedback Online:


Visit the EngageMB website for an opportunity to provide feedback and participate in an online survey on the AMA.

Share Your Story:

We’re interested in hearing from all Manitobans, including people with disabilities, persons with long-term health conditions or illness, seniors, caregivers, family, friends, and natural supports and others interested in this area. Use the story tool on EngageMB or email your story to MAO@gov.mb.ca.

Accessible Transportation Standard Regulation 60-Day Public Consultations closed April 9

The Manitoba government thanks everyone who provided feedback on the Accessible Transportation Standard during the 60-Day Public Consultations, which closed on April 9, 2023.

During this consultation period, we received feedback on EngageMB, over the telephone and during the public webinar hosted on March 22, 2023. Government will review the feedback and present the final version of the standard to Cabinet in the coming months.

For more information about the Accessible Transportation Standard, to listen to the recorded webinar from March 22, 2023, or to access the FAQ or other resources on the standard, please visit AccessibilityMB.ca.

Manitoba Access Awareness Week Runs from May 28 to June 3, 2023

The Manitoba government is proud to once again proclaim May 28 to June 3, 2023 as Manitoba Access Awareness Week (MAAW). Originally recognized in the 1980s, MAAW is celebrated annually each June. This weeklong awareness celebration promotes accessibility and inclusion. It also acknowledges the people who are working to prevent, identify and remove barriers to accessibility, while also raising awareness about accessibility issues within the province that affect people with disabilities and many others.

Stay tuned for an announcement about a webinar hosted by the Manitoba Accessibility Office in celebration of MAAW. More information about this webinar will be available in the next edition of Accessibility News and will be posted on AccessibilityMB.ca.

Spotlight on Manitoba Accessibility Fund Projects

The Manitoba Accessibility Fund is proud to spotlight these amazing projects this month: Community Futures Inc., Healthy Muslim Families, Winnipeg Trails, Squarely Social and Manitoba New Media. All these projects were funded during the pilot year of the program.

Community Futures Inc.

Community Futures and Building a Better Business logos with a male in the lower right corner interpreting in ASL.

Community Futures Manitoba, a non-profit organization that supports small business development in rural and northern Manitoba, is excited to announce that the Build a Better Business training program is now available in American Sign Language (ASL). This program is a series of educational videos designed to provide all the necessary information for individuals interested in starting their own business.

In response to the growing interest from the Deaf community in entrepreneurship, Community Futures Manitoba applied to the Manitoba Accessibility Fund to add ASL to all the business video modules to make them more accessible. To make this goal a reality, Community Futures Manitoba contracted ECCOE to provide translation services from English to ASL.

Community Futures Manitoba's Build a Better Business program is an exciting opportunity for individuals who are interested in starting their own business. This project showcases best practices for the Information and Communication Standard set out by the Accessibility for Manitobans Act. This initiative also reduces transportation barriers often faced by people with disabilities living outside of Winnipeg, making the videos more widely available to all Manitobans.

Healthy Muslim Families

Healthy Muslim Families logo

Healthy Muslim Families (HMF) is a charitable organization serving Muslim communities that aims to strengthen and empower families through education, workshops, services, and support, in line with Islamic values.

The MAF-funded project enabled the organization to gain a better understanding of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) and other legislation that exists internationally and nationally on the rights of people with disabilities. It raised community awareness about the AMA and accessibility standards and is a supportive employer of people with disabilities. In addition, the organization gained a greater understanding of the intersections of Gender-Based violence as it relates to Muslim women with disabilities.

The project undertook several different activities and sessions aimed to increase the organization’s capacity by training all staff members and some volunteers on Accessible Customer Service, and learning from lived experience of a person with disability. This experience helped the team to understand the existing barriers and what role they can play to promote accessibility in their own community. HMF developed a short training guide on AMA for future hires so that whoever joins the team knows from the start that we value accessibility. MAF enabled the organization to build its policies and develop its own Accessible Hiring Practices using expertise of a local organization serving people with disabilities.

‘Keep the entrance clear’ and ‘How can we help’ signage was developed in different languages and made available for community centers, partner agencies and ethnic stores to be kept on reception desks and other entrances. Signage can be ordered by calling our office.

The organization website was upgraded to become an accessible one and several resources were developed like ‘Resources for women with disabilities ­­facing gender-based violence’ and ‘Accessibility for all; a guide to understanding disability and removing barriers for daily living’ was made available on the website as well as distributed to other organizations. All resources were AMA compliant. For the International Women’s Day campaign, HMF produced a video with ASL which they hope to be a regular feature.

An interactive online session was held with a Muslim disability advocate from DEEN Support Services. The session was attended by 15 community representatives and focused on Muslim philosophy, critical thinking, cultural awareness and ways of increasing accessibility of physical spaces and organizational activities.

HMF offers a youth program and, as a result of project activities, one of the coordinators was able to meet the accessibility needs of a participant on the autism spectrum. Furthermore, an HMF youth representative enrolled in an ASL course at Red River College Polytechnic to be a resource for the community.

HMF aims to providing high quality services to the community and will continue to build on their strengths to increase compliance with the AMA and improving accessibility needs in the community.

Winnipeg Trails - Winterpeg is for Everyone!

A man using a sit skis device outside in the winter.

This was the third winter that Winnipeg Trails hosted the Winterpeg Mobile Ski Library. It began as a community initiative during the pandemic, where Winnipeggers donated their old cross-country ski equipment, so more folks could have the opportunity to get outside and enjoy being active in the winter. Through guidance from the Accessibility for Manitobans Act and the Manitoba Accessibility Fund, we aspired to create a mobile ski library that demonstrated the different ways folks of all ages and all abilities could have fun outdoors and skiing alongside their friends and family. We did this through improved communication on our website, training opportunities for using the adapted equipment, and hosting a weekly adapted ski event for persons with a disability.

We improved our Winterpeg website by providing event information such as written directions, a map, and the nearest bus stop location. We shared whether there was an accessible washroom onsite or an indoor warm-up space. Participants were encouraged to reach out with any questions about the event location or adapted equipment. We aimed to allow participants to choose their own adventure and see themselves taking part because we demonstrated that we wanted them there! We also hosted a weekly adapted ski night for persons with a disability and their allies. This event surprised us by not only introducing persons with a disability to the adapted equipment but gave teachers, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists who visited an opportunity to learn about the equipment we have available. Although the circumstances were unfortunate, the war in Ukraine brought a retired paralympic biathlete to Manitoba. His knowledge and passion for accessible sports truly brought our community together.

This winter, thousands of Winnipeggers were introduced to unique adapted equipment such as sit skis, wheelchair blades, kicksleds, and an ahkio sled. We partnered with the Vision Impaired Resource Network to create a training program to have a list of volunteer ski guides for blind or vision-impaired skiers. Next year we want to connect even more schools with the adapted equipment so that they can ski alongside their friends on school trips.

We had so much fun working towards creating a more accessible and inclusive mobile ski library this winter! By providing adapted equipment, ski guide training, and resources for education and outreach, the library has made skiing more inclusive and welcoming for everyone. We will continue to use the AMA guidelines as a foundation for working together toward making recreational activities accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities, and we will continue this in the future.

Squarely Social

Squarely Social’s logo

Squarely Social is a Manitoba-based organization that provides web and social media accessibility consulting services and training to clients across Canada. We believe that content can’t be conversational until it’s inclusive, and we believe conversations are deeper and more meaningful by bringing diverse people and perspectives together.

Thanks to the support of the Manitoba Accessibility Fund, the Social Media and Website Content Accessibility Class is now publicly available to help marketing and communications professionals learn how to create accessible web and social media content, affect change within their organizations and reduce barriers for Manitobans with disabilities. Squarely Social was also able to update its website to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines under the Information and Communications Standard in the Accessibility for Manitobans Act.

Project partners included Ashleigh Lodge, Eclectic Communications, Relish Branding and CNIB Frontier Accessibility.

The class is designed as an immersive learning experience through 2 half-day live, instructor-led online sessions for a total of 5 hours of training, including practical exercises and takeaways participants can use in their organizations.

The initial offerings took place over 2 cohorts on February 15 and 16 and February 27 and 28 with participation from organizations across Canada. We are proud to say that 100% of people who took the class would recommend it to a colleague.

Classes will be offered monthly. The next sessions are on April 19 and 20, 2023. Registration is available through the Squarely Social website.

Some direct feedback from participants noted new skills they developed in the class:

“Start small and take steps towards accessibility. Everyone is learning and growing at their own pace in this area. I learned about tools like the contrast-ratio checker and standard. Learned a lot about writing for web and social.”

“Simple changes can make a big difference in accessibility.”

“How to access website and social content so I can do better! Specifically getting contrast right, using the right kind of video captioning, and better, more useful links.”

“Better understanding around social media accessibility, use of emojis, that accessibility overlays are hurting rather than helping.”

New Media Manitoba

New Media Manitoba (NMM) is the Sector Council lead for Information, Communication and Digital Technologies and a non-profit industry association that is dedicated to supporting Manitoba’s Interactive Digital Media (IDM) industry. Over the last four years, we have seen a growing demand from our member companies for additional training opportunities centred around digital accessibility.

NMM Classroom of computer work stations at 62 Albert.

Our training was designed to be customized to the unique services of our companies. This included everything from traditional web page design to user interface design for video games. Each training program included a mixture of learning pathways from classroom-style webinars to applied learning, where participants took the assessments from accessibility auditors and implemented those findings into their product, which were then followed up with applied learning. That is why we were so excited to be a recipient of a MAF grant because it allowed us to extend our services for more in-depth training and specialized audits.

The results of the training initiative were impressive. Participants reported feeling more confident in their ability to create accessible digital products and services. Many noted that the program had opened their eyes to the importance of designing with accessibility in mind.

“We walked away from the training series committed to continued education and improvement of our accessibility-related processes and services and have a better understanding of how to effectively communicate both internally and with our clients around accessibility.” -Karen Niedzwiecki, Studio Manager & Senior Designer, Manoverboard - NMM Member

Two game accessibility testers. One is male and one is female.

The website audits conducted by individuals with disabilities provided valuable insights into the accessibility challenges they face daily. The feedback received helped our companies understand the barriers they had inadvertently created with their digital products and course correct to make them more accessible.

New Media Manitoba's training initiative through the MAF Grant is an important step towards creating a more inclusive digital landscape in Manitoba. By equipping digital media professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to create accessible digital products and services, we have created a successful model to help to ensure that everyone, regardless of ability, can access and enjoy the benefits of the digital world.

Our commitment to this important topic will continue after this program but will be built into all our future activities. The support we received from the Manitoba Accessibility Fund was essential in allowing us to provide this training initiative for our members.

Manitoba Government Invests Historic $104 Million to Support Disability Services, Increase Service Provider Wages as Part of Budget 2023

Commitment Remains Steadfast to Create Meaningful Change for Disability Sector, Improving Lives of All Manitobans: Stefanson, Squires

As part of Budget 2023, Historic Help for Manitobans, and its efforts to build stronger communities, the Manitoba government is investing a historic $104 million to support disability services and increase the wages of staff that deliver them, Premier Heather Stefanson and Families Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for accessibility, announced today.

“Our government remains steadfast in our commitment to create meaningful and impactful change for Manitobans living with disabilities,” said Stefanson. “We are listening and we are taking action to improve the quality of lives of all Manitobans. This historic funding commitment, which represents the largest increase for this sector in our province’s history, will have a tremendous impact on the lives of children with disabilities and adults with an intellectual disability, their families and the staff who support them, now and for generations to come.”

As part of this $104-million investment, nearly $82 million will support increased wages for front-line staff, the premier noted, adding that this foundational investment is the largest single investment in Community Living disABILITY Services (CLDS) since the program’s inception.

“Our government is committed to reducing barriers and providing the necessary supports and services that empower children and adults with a disability to discover their talents, pursue their dreams and live independently,” said Squires. “Budget 2023 is about investing in our communities, with a historic $640-million total annual commitment towards services for the disability community and we look forward to continue working collaboratively with this sector to build a future full of hope and opportunity.”

The CLDS program provides funding to 93 agencies across the province that deliver a range of support services to approximately 7,900 adults with an intellectual disability. Children’s disABILITY Services supports 6,500 children with a variety of resources and supports to assist families to care for their children at home in their own communities, where children grow and thrive, the minister noted.

“This significant increase provides much-needed stability to people with disabilities and organizations. It will allow front-line staff who love their work to be able to stay and continue that work,” said Margo Powell, executive director, Abilities Manitoba. “This brings hope of being able to recruit and retain direct support staff who are interested, invested and able to stay in support work.”

The Manitoba government values the work performed by the sector’s direct services workers and recognizes their dedication in ensuring Manitobans with a disability receive quality services and supports in communities throughout the province, Stefanson and Squires noted.

“This investment in direct service professional wages is an investment in the quality of life people with intellectual disabilities experience. The value and responsibilities of direct service professionals for many years have greatly outweighed their compensation,” said Scott Smith, member, Intellectual Disability Issues Advisory Council. “The $104 million will create conditions of stability for the agencies to focus on providing quality services and strengthen supports for families.”

The new funding includes:

  • $79.7 million to increase the baseline funded hourly wage rate to $19 for direct service workers and $20.90 for supervisors and program support staff who provide residential, day and respite services to CLDS participants and their families;

  • $2 million to support families raising children with disabilities to increase the funded guideline rate for agency-delivered and self-managed respite services to $19 per hour, so families supported through self-managed respite can offer a competitive wage when recruiting and retaining respite workers; and

  • $21.4 million to expand the capacity of the CLDS program.

“These investments are a significant step forward in supporting Manitoba’s disability community and will further support service providers in providing a meaningful and competitive wage to front-line workers in the disability sector,” said Squires.

The Budget 2023 commitment builds on previously announced investments of $29 million towards disability services programming including $10 million for increasing sector wages, $13.8 million to build sector capacity, and $5 million dedicated to building case management services and reducing wait times for therapeutic services for children.

In the News:

In 2019 and 2020 more than 1 million Canadians travelled by air or train and faced a barrier. In a report about accessibility and federally regulated transportation, the auditor general of Canada, stated that Via Rail and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority have made improvements to accessibility over the last several years, but that more can be done to make travel accessible for all.

Yoast SEO Founder Invests in WordPress Accessibility Plugin” featured on searchenginejournal.com

Ensuring a website is accessible involves more than proper colour contrast and assigning alt text to images. To make a website fully accessible it must comply with many standards set out by the WCAG 2.1 standards. Yoast SEO is investing in a WordPress plugin that will scan and report accessibility issues, making it easier for businesses and companies to identify accessibility issues with their websites.


Public Engagements:

  • EngageMB – The Accessibility for Manitobans Act Five-Year Review: Visit EngageMB.ca to share your feedback on the Act and participate in an online survey.

  • The Accessibility for Manitobans Act Five-Year Review – In-Person Forums*

    • Brandon:

      • Date: April 20, 2023

      • Time: 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm

      • Location: Keystone Centre - 1175 18th Street Unit 1, Brandon, MB

    • Thompson:

      • Date: May 2

      • Time: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

      • Location: Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre - 4 Nelson Road, Thompson, MB

    • Winnipeg:

      • Date: May 15

      • Time: 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm

      • Location: Viscount Gort Hotel - 1670 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB

    * No registration is required to attend these events.

Upcoming Webinars:

  • MAAW Celebration Webinar: Information coming soon.

Important Dates:

Awareness Dates:

  • World Functional Neurological Disorder Awareness Day – April 13