Accessibility Plan for the Department of Justice of Canada

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Message from the Deputy and Associate Deputy Ministers

Dear Readers,

The publication of the first Accessibility Plan for the Department of Justice Canada marks a monumental milestone in a long-awaited and long-overdue journey. Making our department, and more importantly, our nation a better home for persons with disabilities is something we, at the Department of Justice, believe in and support whole-heartedly. The spectrum of disabilities is a broad and dynamic one, with variable degrees of impairment, duration, and differences in how apparent the impairment may be. It is our responsibility to provide a safe, welcoming environment for all, adapted to diverse needs of our employees and Canada’s population as a whole.

Our pursuit of better opportunities, services, and experiences for persons with disabilities is a critical part of a greater movement to improve equity for all groups who face systemic and attitudinal barriers. At the moment, 6.2% of us working at Justice self-report as persons with disabilities – as do 22% of Canadians. And when we look at the intersections of disability and other identity factors, such as age and race, and compare to the Canadian population as a whole, we see an even higher proportion of disabilities. Disabilities are common, and with consideration, conversation and empathy, making accommodations is no longer the great challenge it has been historically perceived to be. Simply recognizing these facts is an important step in shifting our collective mindset. As we move forward, we must share practices of unlearning and deconstruction developed in other equity-seeking communities.

To accomplish our goals, we must embed accessibility into all of our operations, our processes, and most importantly our culture, such that considering the needs of persons with disabilities becomes a prerequisite in everything we do. An accessible-by-design approach helps us make the necessary progress. In the coming years, we expect to deliver on government-wide priorities like closing representation gaps in hiring and retention for persons with disabilities, tracking and reporting on metrics like workplace accommodation wait times, and more. Through this Plan, we can do more than meet the requirements of the Accessible Canada Act; we can create an environment where everyone can flourish and succeed.

Each person has different needs, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to accessibility. In order to contribute to this accessible future, we must all participate in identifying, removing, and preventing barriers. We must all join this conversation and keep it going.

Representation of persons with disabilities in the Canadian population is climbing, and disability is a category through which anyone can move during some stage of life. This plan is truly for all of us, regardless of our current experience with disability. Whether or not you, your colleagues, your friends, or your families are among that 22% of Canadians living with a disability, we hope this Plan will speak to your experience. Making life better for people living with disabilities not only improves the world today. It makes life better for everyone who may experience a disability in the future - and that’s all of us.

With our sincere appreciation of your readership and support,

A. François Daigle and Shalene Curtis-Micallef, Deputy Minister and Associate Deputy Minister of Justice

Executive Summary

The Accessible Canada Act (2019) requires that Federal Departments publish Accessibility Plans. However, the mission behind this Plan goes far beyond meeting a requirement. The Act and this Plan push us toward a better future for our country – one where everyone can take part fully in society. The work we do in support of the Act and this Plan benefits everyone through the realization of a Canada without barriers, a goal the Act commits to achieving by 2040. While everyone benefits from this work, the benefit to persons with disabilities is the true mission.

In support of the Government of Canada’s goal of a barrier-free Canada by 2040, the purpose of Justice Canada’s Accessibility Plan is to create a cohesive, unifying force within the accessibility community at Justice that allows us to create meaningful change together. A dedicated network exists to support the Accessibility Plan and ensure we achieve these goals, with two Co-Champions, six Pillar Leads, an Executive lead for accessibility and an Accessibility Coordinator, the Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities, and the Accessibility Plan Task Force. To ensure the Plan itself reflects high standards for accessibility and inclusion, the development process involves intensive review for Plain and Inclusive language. Further, intersectional Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) and the perspectives of diverse equity-seeking groups inform the content.

Changing our Department’s culture to one of accessibility by default is the ultimate goal of this Plan. To do this, we align the Accessibility Commitments for Justice Canada under six Pillars:

Each Pillar includes an outcome statement that defines the long-term mission, a list of key barriers and solutions, and a list of actions that target the barriers and lead to the outcome. A seventh Pillar, Transportation, exists in the Accessible Canada Act but falls outside the scope of Justice Canada’s mandate.

The voices of people with lived experience, including diverse subgroups with intersecting identity factors, such as women with disabilities, Indigenous persons with disabilities, 2SLGBTQI+ persons with disabilities and others, are essential to our success at all points. We selected the Outcomes and Actions that define the path we lay out in this Plan with a great deal of care for and attention to the voices of those with lived experience. These Outcomes and Actions lay out specific changes that send us on a journey to a state where employees and clients of Justice Canada with disabilities should see the Department as an employer and service provider of choice.

The Accessible Canada Act includes a robust accountability framework. After publishing its first Accessibility Plan, Justice Canada must update and publish a new Plan every three years. It must also establish a feedback form to allow employees and clients to inform the content of the Plan and comment on its implementation. The Department must also prepare annual progress reports to document the main concerns expressed in feedback and explain how the department responds.

Embracing a Culture of Accessibility

The mandate of the Department of Justice (Justice Canada) is to support the dual roles of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada. Justice Canada, which is made up of about 5,000 employees, has two strategic outcomes, both of which appear in its Departmental Results Framework: to ensure a fair, relevant, and accessible justice system that reflects Canadian values, and to ensure that the federal government is supported by high quality legal services. In fulfilling its requirements under the Accessible Canada Act, Justice Canada has the opportunity to implement meaningful change and deliver on its strategic outcomes.

A deep-seated connection exists between the Department and work on accessibility. Justice Canada is a department that enshrines Canadian values in its strategic outcomes and work advancing equity contributes in many ways to the pursuit of justice. Efforts toward improving equity and accessibility by no means start with this Plan. The Accessibility Plan draws on and integrates with the Department’s continued efforts to combat discrimination and address systemic barriers. The Accessibility Plan would not be what it is today without the work leading up to its development in areas such as Duty to Accommodate, the Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Secretariat (ARADS), Employment Equity (EE), the Policy on GBA Plus, Occupational Health and Safety, Workplace Wellness, Union support, National Accommodations, Communications, Information Technology, and Procurement.

A posture of learning and humility guides the work on accessibility at the Department of Justice. We expect to continuously learn, grow and refine our approach to accessibility as we hear from our employees and clients, including the general public. We also take an iterative approach. The 2022 plan is the foundation for future Accessibility Plans – which will increase the expectations, accountability and requirements needed to achieve our accessibility goals.

Through purposeful action and genuine commitment from leadership, we believe a more just and equitable future is within reach for persons with disabilities. A great deal of work has gone into publishing this Plan, but we still see that the real work begins now. Through this plan, we bring the voices of those most impacted to the forefront, and hold ourselves accountable for ensuring the future they need becomes real.

Consultations

A co-development model inspired the approach to drafting the Accessibility Plan. The Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities (ACPD) at Justice acted as the key, trusted partner throughout development. While drafting the Accessibility Plan, the Accessibility Plan Team facilitated experience-based conversations with the ACPD members, then offered ACPD members the first opportunity to comment at each stage of development. Additional engagement from members of four Employment Equity Advisory Committees (Indigenous Peoples, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression, Visible Minorities, and Women at Justice) and the Black Employees’ Network contributed to an inclusive and intersectional lens on our work.

Accessible and Inclusive Feedback Methods

By relying on the guiding principle of Nothing Without Us and the goal of being inclusive and accessible, the consultation process provided participants with targeted questions, sufficient information, time, and different means of participation. In addition to working with the ACPD, the three key methods of consultation were:

What We Heard

The consultations leading up to the publication of the Accessibility Plan amassed a large collection of data based on accounts of personal experience. In listening to these messages, some common themes emerged over time. We heard a call for:

Additional examples of barriers associated with each Pillar appear in the sections that follow. Some participants responded to our questions by identifying barriers, while others responded with suggestions for solutions, and the examples below reflect this.

Training

Throughout the consultations leading up to drafting Justice Canada’s Accessibility Plan, one of the barriers that came up repeatedly was lack of knowledge. All employees at Justice Canada need the knowledge foundation to produce accessible work. Managers need knowledge of what to do when an employee faces a barrier. Specialists in the fields associated to the Pillars of Accessibility at Justice Canada need to be able to enhance their work with accessibility awareness.

Because of hearing the urgent need for knowledge and understanding related to accessibility within the Department, promoting the wealth of information related to accessibility and accessible work practices is a top priority for all contributors to the Accessibility Plan. These efforts will help employees across the department increase their accessibility knowledge by drawing their attention to the resources that exist and ensuring the resources are easy to find. Further, Pillar Leads are pursuing specialized training options for subject matter experts in their fields.

Accessibility Commitments for Justice Canada

The commitments in this plan, as reflected in the actions below, are the focus of our efforts between now and December 2025. Evergreen implementation strategies connect the commitments to departmental operations under each Pillar area. Continuous engagement and collaboration with persons with disabilities ensures the implementation strategies and the actions they support lead to the best and most timely results possible.

Employment

Outcome

Our mission for accessibility under the Employment Pillar at Justice Canada:

Job seekers and employees with disabilities see Justice Canada as an employer of choice and can contribute at their full potential through access to employment opportunities and promotions.

Barriers

The barriers related to Employment as reported through consultations and our feedback mechanisms fell within three categories:

Duty to Accommodate

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Recruitment

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Retention and Promotion

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Actions

The Department is taking concrete steps to remove and/or prevent those barriers, including:

Justice Canada establishes a central point of contact for all questions and requests related to accommodations, built around the Workplace Accessibility Passport system to reduce wait times, documentation requirements, repetition, and stigma.

Supporting actions include:

Justice Canada practices inclusive and accessible hiring such that all candidates, including those with disabilities, have the opportunity to demonstrate their capacities.

Supporting actions include:

Justice Canada provides employees with disabilities with opportunities to enhance career satisfaction and advancement.

Supporting actions include:

Built Environment

Outcome

Our mission for accessibility under the Built Environment Pillar at Justice Canada:

Clients and employees of Justice Canada, including those with disabilities, can make best use of all Justice occupied facilities through barrier-free access.

Barriers

The barriers related to the Built Environment as reported through consultations and our feedback mechanisms fell within three categories:

Mobility

Movement around and within Justice Canada facilities

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Environment

Qualitative and experiential elements of a healthy workplace such as lighting, noise levels, and décor

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Guidance

Wayfinding information, signage, and interactions with personnel

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Actions

The department is taking concrete steps to remove and/or prevent those barriers, including:

Justice Canada reviews the built environment in partnership with persons with disabilities to identify ways to make Justice buildings more accessible and inclusive.

Supporting actions include:

Justice Canada develops tools to enhance use of the built environment.

Supporting actions include:

Justice Canada supports and contributes to the development of new office standards that create a barrier-free environment.

Supporting actions include:

Information and Communications Technology

Outcome

Our mission for accessibility under the Information and Communications Technology Pillar at Justice Canada:

Information and communications technology provides all users, including those with disabilities, with leading edge tools that enhance capacity and improve efficiency.

Barriers

The barriers related to Information and Communications Technology as reported through consultations and our feedback mechanisms fell within three categories:

Planning and Acquiring New Digital Systems and Technology

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Adapting and Updating Existing Programs and Technology

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Providing User Training and Guidance

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Actions

Justice Canada incorporates accessibility considerations into the planning and acquisition of new digital systems and technology, and performs routine scanning to monitor for emerging advancements in accessible technology.

Supporting actions include:

Justice Canada enables accessibility features in existing programs and technology, and assesses current programs and technology for accessibility features to identify gaps.

Supporting actions include:

Justice Canada develops a plan to establish a centre of expertise to support employees in becoming aware of and understanding how to use tools and systems to ensure internal and external applications are accessible.

Supporting actions include:

Communications

Outcome

Our mission for accessibility under the Communications Pillar at Justice Canada:

Clients, partners, and employees of Justice Canada, as well as the public, can engage and communicate with the department through means that work for them, in language and formats they can easily use and understand.

Barriers

The barriers related to Communications as reported through consultations and our feedback mechanisms fell within four categories:

Plain Language

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Sign Language and Official Languages

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Alternate formats, including templates and tools

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Culture and visibility

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Actions

Justice Canada develops and implements a Plain Language Strategy to raise awareness among all employees and improve readability across internal and external communications.

Supporting actions include:

Justice Canada events offer Sign Language interpretation in both Official Languages.

Supporting actions include:

Justice Canada updates core departmental templates and tools for MS Word, MS PowerPoint, and PDFs to meet accessibility requirements and include basic user guidance to maintain accessibility in the templates.

Supporting actions include:

Work with Information and Communications Technologies Lead to:

Justice Canada integrates disability inclusion and accessibility awareness into the department’s communications outputs such that Canadians and departmental employees, including those with disabilities, see themselves considered and reflected.

Supporting actions include:

Procurement

Outcome

Our mission for accessibility under the Procurement Pillar at Justice Canada:

Justice Canada project and technical authorities consider accessibility requirements when relevant in their specifications for procuring goods, services, and facilities, so that the deliverables provide the necessary accessibility features.

Barriers

The barriers related to Procurement as reported through consultations and our feedback mechanisms fell within three categories:

Lack of awareness of accessibility when defining procurement requirements (current requirements and future requirements)

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Availability of goods or services with accessibility features

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Lack of industry standards for certain goods or services

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Actions

Justice Canada considers accessibility in all procurement actions, providing consistent guidance on applying considerations during the procurement process.

Supporting actions include:

Justice Canada provides guidance and analysis to identify goods and services with accessibility features, and maintains a reference list for use in delivering advice and guidance during procurement actions.

Supporting actions include:

Design and Delivery of Programs and Services

Outcome

Our mission for accessibility under the Design and Delivery of Programs and Services Pillar at Justice Canada:

Persons with disabilities have a better user experience when engaging with Justice Canada because the department considers their needs throughout service design, implementation, and review.

Barriers

The barriers related to the Design and Delivery of Programs and Services as reported through consultations and our feedback mechanisms fell within three categories:

Lack of consultation with persons with disabilities during the service design phase

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Inconsistent maintenance or lack of upkeep of existing accessible services

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Lack of guidance, training, and advance preparation to enable employees who deliver services to meet clients’ accessibility needs

The barriers and solutions we heard about included the following:

Actions

Consulting and Integrating Feedback

Justice Canada includes persons with disabilities throughout the new service lifecycle, from design to implementation.

Supporting actions include:

Justice Canada continuously reassesses accessibility as part of cyclical service review.

Supporting actions include:

Raising Awareness

Justice Canada socializes existing service accessibility guides and tools with all employees, and dedicates additional support to those designing services.

Supporting actions include:

Transportation

Transportation is the seventh pillar of accessibility under the Accessible Canada Act. We list it in this plan as required by the Act, but is not included in the scope of Justice Canada’s mandate.

Accountability

The accountability structures in place in the Accessible Canada Act, the Accessible Canada Regulations, and within the Department of Justice ensure we maintain momentum toward our goals. The actions for each Pillar are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely), which means measurement and tracking are built-in.

The Accessibility Plan Team monitors quarterly tracking of implementation status against the actions, and maintains open communication within the Accessibility Network (Co-Champions, Pillar Leads, the Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities (ACPD), and the Accessibility Plan Task Force) regarding the feedback form.

Leading up to annual reports on the Accessibility Plan, the Accessibility Plan Team retains records of feedback, maintains continuous engagement with the ACPD, and performs consultations to monitor for changes and identify new goals. The same processes support the redevelopment and publication of a new Accessibility Plan every three years.

Time and again, we hear how much accountability matters to persons with disabilities at Justice. The accessibility community within Justice recognizes and values the importance of the Accessibility Plan in fulfilling the needs and expectations of persons with disabilities.

A New Narrative

Persons with disabilities, like all individuals, hold tremendous potential. However, for persons with disabilities, removing barriers is the difference between knowing that potential exists and living out that potential. There are few experiences more empowering than seeing ourselves live up to our potential, and making that experience of empowerment possible for persons with disabilities creates an opportunity to define a new model for our society. By removing barriers and fostering accessibility, we change the narrative. When it comes time to write the next Accessibility Plan for Justice Canada, we hope to hear new themes emerging from our conversations about the experiences of persons with disabilities – themes of hope, and of progress.

So let’s write a new story together. It may be a challenging one, and we may stumble along the way, but little by little, we will make progress. And after all, isn’t progress far more human, and far more beautiful, than perfection?

General

We have a web form, which captures employee and client feedback on:

At Justice Canada, the person who receives your feedback on barriers and the accessibility plan is the Accessibility Coordinator. You can also contact the Accessibility Coordinator to request a copy of the Plan in an alternate format.

Alternate formats include:

Contact Us

Telephone

613-957-4222*

TDD/TTY

613-992-4556
*For Canadians who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired, access can be achieved via their own interpreter or via Canada VRS, which provides an interpreter: https://srvcanadavrs.ca/en/  

Fax

613-954-0811

Mailing Address

Department of Justice Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0H8

E-mail

AccessibilityPlan-Plandaccessibilite@justice.gc.ca

Glossary

AAACT

The Accessibility, Accommodation and Adaptive Computer Technology program (AAACT) is committed to making the Public Service of Canada a barrier-free, inclusive workplace, with many services. AAACT is making this vision a reality by supporting departments who offer programs and services to Canadians and building accessible workplaces with equal opportunities for all employees.2

Accessibility

Accessibility is the combination of aspects that influence a person’s ability to function within an environment. It Is about giving equal access to everyone.3

Accessibility Passport

The GC Workplace Accessibility Passport helps address the obstacles federal public service employees and applicants with disabilities face in obtaining the tools, supports and measures to perform at their best and succeed in the workplace. It facilitates recruitment, retention, and career advancement for persons with disabilities.4

Accessible

Accessible refers to a place that is easily reached, an environment that is easily navigated or a program or service that can be easily used or obtained. This includes certain aspects of our environment that have been adapted for use by people who identify as people with disabilities.3

Accessible/Accessibility Technology

Technology present in the workplace or at home that gives employees and clients the resources they need to perform to their highest potential, without internal or external barriers.5

Accommodation

It is the modification of a work environment and the creation of a welcoming workplace for any employee that is ill, injured or identifies as having a disability, so that they can stay at work or successfully return to work from an absence due to illness or injury, and perform job functions efficiently and safely.6

Barrier

A barrier can mean anything - including anything physical, architectural, technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or communications or anything that is the result of a policy or a practice - that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment or a functional limitation.7

Bias

A preconceived judgment that is held by a person and that influences their perception of or their behaviour towards another person or group of people.8

Culture of Accessibility

Culture is reflected in the attitudes and behaviours within the organization and determines what is encouraged or discouraged. Employees face implicit expectations that will affect the decisions they make each day as part of their work. This can be seen in many aspects of your day-to-day activities.

A culture of accessibility is the attitudes that promote a fair, accessible workplace for all employees, that are seen everyday at work.9

Disability

Disability means any impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment - or a functional limitation - whether permanent, temporary, or episodic in nature, or evident or not, that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society.

Other source:

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/disability/arc/reference-guide.html#h2.3-h3.1

Discrimination

Discrimination means treating someone differently or unfairly because of a personal characteristic or distinction, which, whether intentional or not, has an effect that imposes disadvantages not imposed on others or that withholds or limits access that is given to others.3

Other source:

What is Discrimination? (chrc-ccdp.gc.ca)

Duty to Accommodate

The duty to accommodate is the duty of employers to make sure that their workplaces are inclusive and allow all workers to participate fully. This duty relates to the grounds of discrimination in human rights laws.10

Gender Identity

Gender Identity is each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is their sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender identity may be the same as or different from the gender typically associated with their sex assigned at birth. For some persons, their gender identity is different from the gender typically associated with their sex assigned at birth; this is often described as transgender or simply trans. Gender identity is fundamentally different from a person’s sexual orientation.11

Inclusion

Inclusion is the act of recognizing, valuing and building on differences in identity, abilities, backgrounds, cultures, skills, experiences and perspectives while respecting human rights.3

Jargon

Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.21

Nothing Without Us

Nothing Without Us is an accessibility strategy used for the Public Service of Canada to communicate the message that persons with disabilities will be involved in the developmental and implementation of new policies concerning accessibility.12 13

Official language minority communities

Official language minority communities are groups of people whose maternal or chosen official language is not the majority language in their province or territory – in other words, Anglophones in Quebec and Francophones outside of Quebec. For the purposes of its granting programs, the Canada Council defines OLMC individuals, groups and arts organizations as those who self-identify as belonging to one of these groups.14

Plain Language

Writing that is easily understandable on first reading. This does not include over-simplifying or leaving out critical information. Plain language actually makes critical information accessible for everyone.15 16

Procurement

The action of acquiring goods and services by departments and agencies to ensure that workspaces are accessible and usable by everyone, including persons with disabilities.

This ensures that the goods and services the government buys are accessible and usable by everyone, including persons with disabilities.20 16

Racialized group

A group of people categorized according to ethnic or racial characteristics and subjected to discrimination on that basis.

Ethnic characteristics include culture, language and religion. Racial characteristics include skin colour, hair texture and facial features.8

Sexual Orientation

A person’s physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to, and/or intimate relations with, individuals of a different gender, the same gender, no gender, or more than one gender. A person’s understanding of their sexual orientation may change.17

Systemic barrier

Systemic barriers are policies or practices that result in some individuals from underrepresented groups receiving unequal access to or being excluded from participation in employment, services or programs. These barriers are systemic in nature, meaning they result from institutional-level practices, policies, traditions and/or values that may be “unintended” or “unseen” to those who do not experience them, but that have serious and long-lasting impacts on the lives of those affected (e.g. on their career trajectories and/or mental and physical health).18

Visible Minority

Visible minority is defined for federal employment equity purposes. Visible minority refers to whether a person is a visible minority or not, as defined by the Employment Equity Act. Persons, other than Indigenous peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.19


Footnotes

1 Persons with disabilities with intersecting identity factors such as members of racialized groups and members of official language minority communities might be disproportionately impacted by bias, racism and discrimination.

Glossary Sources