The legislation was developed to be flexible so that committees could be developed that were effective and responsive. For this reason, there are only two mandatory rules:
- At least half of the members should be persons with disabilities or represent disability-serving organizations
- The committee should have Indigenous representation
There are at least three strategies the organization could use to come into compliance, including:
- Organizations that have an existing accessibility committee that meets the requirements above, can continue to use them as their Accessibility Committee
- Prescribed Organizations can partner with others in their sector to establish a joint committee
- Prescribed Organizations can partner with others in other sectors to establish a joint committee
Questions to Ask
Should we form a committee on our own? If you a large or complex organization that tends to work independently, it may make sense to create your own committee. But, remember, there may be other organizations seeking out a limited number of volunteers to be on your committee, so it still might make sense to create a joint committee.
Should we seek out others to partner with?
Organizations that may have limited capacity to establish their own committee may want to reach out to like organizations in their sector or in their community. Other Prescribed Organizations may already have partners established or are putting together partnerships so check with them as soon as possible.
How many organizations should we partner with?
There’s a limit on the number of organizations that may be able to partner depending on how you are establishing your committees. Holding meetings with more than 12 to 14 members may not be feasible. You also have to consider how you plan on meeting as a committee and if this will be possible.
Terms of Reference
Once a committee structure has been agreed upon, a Terms of Agreement will be needed to establish the committee. As part of this process, it is important to identify a lead for the committee from the organization or joint partners. Your lead for this project would ideally have the capacity to focus on delivering the requirements in time for the compliance deadline. The lead could be someone with an accessibility or policy background, or a strong generalist open to learning more about accessibility. As the project lead may be coordinating across departments (depending on the size of your Organization), often in areas that may fall outside their direct authority or influence, someone with an interest in building relationships across functional areas would be helpful.
In larger organizations, the work of leading the accessibility plan may be delegated to HR or an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion lead. In other Organizations, a special projects coordinator or community engagement lead may be assigned. Ultimately, the lead for the project should try to get some background on previous accessibility activities and reach out to experts or champions in the community that can help shape the strategy.
As new members join the committee, a consistent practice of welcoming them should take place. This includes meeting all members, understanding the legislation, understanding the committee’s roles, responsibilities, and history, and review all relevant documents. Check out the President Group’s onboarding guide.