Accessibility is defined as the quality of being easy to obtain or use. It can also be defined as the quality of being easily understood or appreciated. (Oxford Languages)
National AccessAbility Week 2021 (NAAW) is an annual event to celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities. It also promotes inclusion and accessibility in communities and workplaces across Canada. This year NAAW runs from May 30 to June 5, 2021.
At SACE, we believe that unique and specialized services should be available to all people, regardless of ethnicity, heritage, faith, gender, culture, age, social and financial status, ability, or sexual orientation. When we talk about accessibility at SACE, this means removing barriers for anyone using our services, resources, and space. In recognition of National AccessAbility Week 2021, here are some of the accessibility measures SACE has been working on over the past 14 months.
New Website Plugin
Leading up to National AccessAbility Week 2021, SACE installed the Userway accessibility plugin on our website to make sure all aspects of sace.ca are accessible for folks with visual, mobility, or other communications accessibility needs.
Click or tap the magenta person icon at the lower-left corner of any page on sace.ca to view the accessibility menu with language, screen reader, fonts, spacing, and display colour options to help you navigate the SACE website suited to your needs and preferences.
The Userway accessibility plugin meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, an internationally accepted standard for web accessibility developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Following these guidelines should make it easier for everyone to access our website and content, and we encourage other Edmonton organizations to do the same.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to making services and content more accessible:
- Use ALT text (alternative text) or image descriptions for images used on your website and social media. This helps folks with visual impairments, and all those who use screen readers, with a short description of the photo or image.
- Include closed captioning with videos, webinars, and livestreams. Most social media platforms have this functionality built in, including the video conferencing app Zoom!
- Offer sliding scale fees for course and event registration. For example, at SACE our public education courses are available from no fee to $30 to ensure cost is not a barrier to participation.
SACE Accessibility Updates since COVID-19
SACE is pretty far out from the downtown core, and we realize that transportation to the SACE office may not always be accessible to clients and agencies we work with. In response to COVID-19 restrictions, we made policy updates and have adopted new technology. These changes have made our services more accessible to new clients who were previously unable to access in-person counselling services due to location, mobility or comfort.
Throughout the pandemic, we have been able to make services more accessible through virtual and online learning. Our counselling services (both individual and group), public education, and volunteer training have all pivoted to online and virtual sessions, with some in-person allowance.
Two new digital information packages were developed for new adult clients and caregivers supporting child clients.
In February 2020, the Community Counselling Program was created to help reduce barriers and supportively connect community members with SACE services. Acting as a bridge between the community and SACE, this program addressed systemic barriers and worked to build trust with, and tailored programming for, identified communities. This program continues to evolve and adapt to the pandemic and in response to community feedback and needs.
For additional accessibility information on the physical SACE office space, visit the Our Space & Accessibility page on our website.
At SACE, we understand that building accessible services is an ongoing process, and we are constantly working to identify what barriers folks are facing in our community. We also recognize that accessibility has different meanings to different people.
As part of this process, we have created a short Accessibility Community Scan survey to determine what kind of resources are needed by SACE clients, and by the clients and staff of our community partner agencies. Please take five minutes to provide your feedback. You are also welcome to share this survey with others. The survey will remain open until July 31, 2021.
If you have any thoughts, feedback, or ideas on how we can do better, please email the SACE Accessibility Inclusion Committee at email@example.com. Please note, we do not have access to our office phones or voicemails at this time.
For up-to-date information on the status of our services, visit the SACE services during COVID-19 update page.
The SACE Support & Info Line is available from 9 am to 9 pm daily at 780.423.4121. Chat is available through the pop-up box at the bottom of this page during this time. For text, toll-free long distance, or for support through an interpreter for languages other than English, call 1.866.403.8000.