Statement of Commitment
Youth Opportunities Unlimited is committed to treating all people in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence. We believe in integration and equal opportunity. We are committed to excellence in serving all customers including people with disabilities. We will endeavor to prevent and remove barriers to accessibility and to comply with accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) strives to meet the needs of its employees and customers with disabilities and is working diligently to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility.
Our organization is committed to fulfilling our requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 (AODA). This accessibility plan outlines the steps YOU is taking to meet those requirements and to improve opportunities for people with disabilities.
YOU is a non-profit registered charitable organization serving young people ages 16 to 30. Our youth clients come from all walks of life; many have experienced trauma, homelessness and other social challenges including unemployment, precarious housing, and lack of skills training. YOU endeavours to serve our youth clients with sensitivity and inclusiveness in a wraparound approach. YOU focuses on positive youth development and engagement to support youth in reaching their potential. We apply a similar philosophy with staff practices.
YOU has grown from an organization of 35 employees in 2013 to 72 employees in 2019. YOU is taking steps to formalize many of its practices including that for employment into written policies. This rapid growth is in direct correlation with the expansion of YOU’s services and programming to be more inclusive and diverse yet remaining focused on the youth population.
Our accessibility plan shows how YOU will play its role in making Ontario an accessible province for all Ontarians.
Section One: Past Achievements to Remove and Prevent Barriers
This document includes a summary of the accessibility initiatives YOU has completed.
YOU has remained in compliance with all Customer Services Standards requirements under Regulation 429/07 since 2012.
YOU maintains multiple media and communication channels to receive feedback from all people including those with disabilities. All feedback is addressed in accordance with existing YOU conflict resolution procedures. People with disabilities can notify YOU if alternate formats are necessary (see Information and Communications below).
Use of assistive devices is encouraged and where there is a risk of safety to others, other reasonable measures are used to ensure access. Employees engage with the customer fully to ensure accessibility needs are met.
Service animals and support persons will be accommodated where excluded by law. When such a situation arise, alternate arrangements will be made to provide support to the person with disabilities to ensure needs are met.
To date, YOU has accommodated three situations where a youth participant required the support of a service animal and all were accommodated to their satisfaction. Each situation was explored in full details and the youth participant was consulted to ensure accessibility needs were met. YOU employees are aware of the need to accommodate and to remove barriers while balancing this with the needs of other participants who may have allergies to animals.
Information and Communications
No employee has made aware to YOU of a need to accommodate for individualized workplace emergency information. Supervisors ensure all employees are supported to bring forward requests for accommodation in the workplace. Various formats for the information will be made available upon request after consultation with the individual staff member.
All publicly available information is made accessible upon request. Requests are directed to: email@example.com Attention: Customer Feedback. YOU’s Executive Assistant is the designated contact to respond to such requests. All correspondence will be acknowledged within two (2) business days. A written response, together with findings will be provided within fourteen (14) business days from receipt of correspondence. The response will be in a format that accommodates the correspondent’s needs.
All service disruptions are posted on premise and communicated verbally where appropriate. When appropriate this information is also sent via e-blast or posted on YOU’s website.
YOU refreshed its YOU.ca website in 2015 to ensure compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level A requirements. YOU will work with its web designer as we refresh and update the website while becoming compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level AA requirements before 1 January 2021.
All postings for jobs at YOU include the following information: “Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) is an equal opportunity employer that values the richness of a diverse environment. Youth Opportunities Unlimited is committed to providing an accessible workplace, in support of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005) and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation 191/11. Should an applicant require accommodation at any point during the recruitment process or as an employee during subsequent employment, they are invited to communicate and discuss their requirements with YOU contact noted above.”
All offer of employment letter for all new hires include the following paragraph to inform new employees of YOU’s accommodation process: “YOU has an accommodation process in place that provides accommodations for employees with disabilities. If you require a specific accommodation because of a disability or a medical need, please contact our Director, Administration and Operations via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This ensures that the appropriate accommodations are in place before you begin your employment.”
YOU posts all current personnel policies on its SharePoint staff intranet. Employees are advised to notify their supervisor should alternate formats be required to accommodate their individual accessibility needs.
Additionally, changes to YOU policies, job tasks, working conditions and other employment related issues are communicated directly by their immediate supervisors during staff meetings as well as in writing via email. Alternate formats will be made available upon request.
YOU will review individualized workplace emergency response with any employees who have self-identified as requiring accommodation: a) when employee moves to a different location within YOU; b) when the employee’s overall accommodation needs or plans are reviewed; and c) when YOU reviews its general emergency response policies.
Talent and Performance Management
YOU’s performance management process includes verbal review of performance as well as written documentation of the discussion. YOU will use alternate methods in consultation with the employee when they identify a need for accommodation. YOU does not provide formal career development and advancement. All employees are welcome to apply to job postings that are available, and considerations will be given to individual accessibility accommodation needs.
Accessibility Policies Communication
YOU has a policy framework that includes job accommodation, emergency response plan, return to work, performance management and termination. YOU posts all personnel policies on its staff intranet (see above under Information and Communications, and Workplace Information). Alternate formats will be made available upon request in consultation with the requester.
YOU has no employees who have self-identified as requiring individualized accommodation plans currently. Any employee who identify a need for job accommodation, may make this known to their immediate supervisor who will work with YOU Administration to determine best option to determine how the accommodation might be achieved. This may be in the form of a note from a licenced healthcare professional.
An individualized accommodation plan will include the following: a) if requested, include any information regarding accessible formats and communication supports required; b) if required, include individualized workplace emergency response information; and c) identify any other accommodation that is required.
Return to Work Process
YOU has a process in place to support employees who have been absent from work due to a disability or injury and require temporary or permanent disability-related accommodations to return to work. All employees will communicate with their immediate supervisor any special requirements to facilitate their return to work after an illness or injury or permanent disability. Any accommodations made will be documented in an individualized accommodation plan outlined above. This is documented in YOU’s Return to Work from Illness or Injuries Policy updated in January 2019 and reformatted in October 2019. Specific job accommodation process is addressed in YOU’s Accommodation Policy updated in September 2019.
Redeployment / Work Reassignment
When it is necessary for YOU to reassign employees rather than implement a layoff, the accessibility needs of YOU employees with disabilities will be considered and appropriate accommodation plan developed.
All employees, volunteers and students providing service at YOU receive training on Ontario’s accessibility laws and on the Human Rights Code as it relates to people with disabilities. Training is provided on-line and unless it was made known to YOU that an alternate format is required to meet individual needs. One-on-one communication will be done to augment on-line training as required.
YOU subscribes to the services offered by HR Downloads for its on-line training modules. Records are maintained within the on-line training software. As the service provider updates its content, refresher training is implemented as required to ensure currency with latest best practices and prevailing customer service standards under AODA.
Design of Public Spaces
YOU has worked diligently to ensure its public spaces are accessible and physical barriers removed as resources allow. Since the opening of YOU’s Cornerstone building at 332 Richmond Street in December 2011, new automatic door openers have been installed on several public entrances: exterior door to the residential and commercial spaces; interior door to the elevator lobby accessing residential units on second and third floors; and interior door to the YOU Made It Café located on the main level. In 2012, an elevator was installed to service levels main, two, three and four at the Cornerstone which was built in 1879. Public corridors to the residential and commercial spaces were made accessible. When the supported housing units (30 in total) were renovated, two suites of six units were created for congregate living. Three units with each of these 6- unit suites were made accessible with toilets, showers and sinks that were wheelchair accessible. A Youth Action Centre (a drop-in place for basic needs support to street involved youth and youth experiencing homelessness) was created on the main level, where accessible showers were also installed to remove barriers to people with disabilities.
In 2016, YOU acquired 329, 331 333 Richmond Street, a development to increase YOU’s supported housing stock and to house YOU’s corporate offices and Career Services offices. Phase 1 of Joan’s Place began in January 2019 to renovate 333 Richmond Street. Phase 1 included incorporating all accessibility features in the Ontario Building Codes as well as the installation of a LULA lift to provide accessibility to this heritage building (originally built around 1880). Accessible washrooms with automatic door openers were also included on Levels 1 and 2 of Phase 1 of Joan’s Place where staff office and public spaces are located. Phase 1 was completed and occupied at the end of July 2019.
Additional accessibility enhancements will be incorporated when Phase 2 is implemented by 2022.
Section Two: Strategies and Actions
YOU is committed to ensuring accessibility to its programs and services for people with disabilities. Between January 2015 and December 2019, YOU has implemented and updated the following areas: job accommodation, return to work processes, emergency response planning, accessibility to physical spaces, accessibility to its website, employment practices and training for Integrated Accessibility Standards regulations (Ontario Regulation 191/11).
YOU is committed to providing accessible customer service to people with disabilities. This means that we will provide goods and services to people with disabilities with the same high quality and timeliness as others.
All new staff, volunteers, and students on placement are assigned on-line training to AODA Customer Services Standards and Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities. Immediate supervisors are responsible for identifying any new persons requiring on-boarding support which includes on-line training assignment to AODA Customer Services Standards. This is documented in YOU’s orientation procedures and written documentation of the completion of this training is required for their employee files. The employee is required to attest the completion of the orientation process with their name, signature and the date the process is completed.
Information and Communications
YOU is committed to making our information and communications accessible to people with disabilities.
The key work currently being planned is a major refresh of YOU.ca and other YOU related websites. This work is undertaken with an external web designer – rTraction. YOU’s Community Engagement Coordinator is the project lead for this refresh to ensure the new content is designed with our customers in mind and would consult with these customers to address their communication needs including accessibility requirements.
The intended completion date is by the end of year 2020 so that YOU will be compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level AA requirements by 1 January 2021.
YOU is committed to fair and accessible employment practices.
YOU has updated many of its employment practices to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities. This included a major update for on-boarding new staff with respect to technology requirements to perform their job duties.
As part of the employee’s on-boarding / orientation procedures, the immediate supervisor is responsible for communicating in a format that is appropriate for the employee after consulting with the employee, all details needed to perform the employee’s job; and information that is generally available to employees in the workplace.
Support for assistive devices is considered at the time of hire and employees are encouraged by their supervisors to self-identify as need for job accommodation. YOU will provide whatever technological support is required based on a collaborative consultative process including the employees, their healthcare professionals and YOU administration within its financial resources (to the point of undue hardship).
Immediate supervisors are responsible for communicating to their direct reports any changes to YOU existing policies, and the introduction of any new policies both verbally in a staff meeting and in writing via emails and posting on YOU’s staff intranet (SharePoint) under Personnel Policies.
YOU is committed to accessible procurement processes within its resources. Where possible, accessible design and features will be considered along with other criteria such as quality and cost of the goods, services and facilities.
YOU will ask the following questions to ensure accessibility standards are met where possible.
- Can the product be used by someone:
- In a seated position?
- Using one hand, with limited upper body strength?
- With limited fine motor skills?
- With vision loss or low vision?
- With hearing loss?
- Does the product meet ergonomic standards?
- Can the product be customized to meet different needs?
- Are instructions for using the product clear and easy to follow?
- Are support materials (e.g. manuals or training materials) available in accessible formats at no extra charge?
- Does the company provide accessible customer service?
- Can the provider accommodate people with different types of disabilities? E.g. when hiring someone to evaluate YOU programs, do their surveys and interviews accommodate people with different types of disabilities?
- Will the company use accessible signage, audio and/ print materials? E.g. when hiring an event planner, will they use high contract signs for the event?
- Can someone using a mobility aid (e.g. wheelchair or walker) move around the facility?
- Are signs placed at an accessible height?
- Does the facility have emergency procedures to assist people with disabilities?
If YOU cannot procure goods, services or facilities that is accessible, an explanation will be made available in an accessible format or with communication supports as appropriate and as required.
Resource for technology accessibility: http://universaldesign.ie/Technology-ICT/IT-Procurement-Toolkit/
YOU has no plan to implement self-service kiosks to provide services to its customers or employees.
YOU is committed to providing training in the requirements of Ontario’s accessibility laws and the Ontario Human Rights Code as it applies to people with disabilities. YOU will continue using current processes (a combination of personal interaction and on-line modules) to provide training.
YOU will meet accessibility laws when building or making major changes to public spaces.
Two new capital projects are planned for 2020: a new emergency youth shelter located on Clarke Road and 340 Richmond Street which will provide employment resources search support, and certification training workshops for those seeking employment and skills development. These two projects have been planned with physical accessibility in mind. Architects and engineers have incorporated accessibilities features from the Ontario Building Code for the design of these spaces, including public parking designation for people with disabilities and accessible entrances. Among the 30 bedrooms planned for the emergency youth shelter, several are designed to be fully accessible for those with mobility disabilities.
Phase 2 of Joan’s Place (329 and 331 Richmond) is currently in planning and construction is scheduled for spring 2020. It is anticipated that this new space will incorporate all accessibility requirements under the Ontario Building Codes as well as enhancing what is currently in place for Phase 1. For example, the four loft apartments currently located at 333 Richmond Street (Phase 1) will have new corridors and the new elevators designed for Phase 2 will be tied in so that visitors will experience barrier-free access to all of Joan’s Place.
YOU will put procedures in place to prevent service disruptions to the accessible areas within our public spaces.
For More Information
For more information on this accessibility plan, please contact Amy Lee, Director, Administration and Operations at: Office: (519)432-1112 extension 621; Email: email@example.com
Website and social media addresses: YOU.ca; YOUMadeItCafe.ca; @YMICafe; Youth Opportunities Unlimited (London) on LinkedIn.
Standard and accessible formats of this document are free on request from firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Melanie at (519)432-1112 extension 294.