Our Accessibility Committee

Our first step was creating our Accessibility & Inclusion Advisory Committee (AIAC) to learn about barriers and brainstorm action areas for our first accessibility plan. 

We had a short recruitment period and many people put their name forward to be on this committee.  Our committee meets the requirements outlined in the Accessible BC Act and is made up of a mix of front-line and system ORL staff members, community members, and Indigenous representation.  All participants in the committee have some connection to disability.  Committee members may experience it themselves or they may care for or have family members experiencing a disability.  The AIAC has chosen to stay anonymous in this plan. They represent a wide range of disabilities including low vision, Deafness, physical disabilities, mental health, and learning/memory disabilities. The ORL is also geographically widespread in the Okanagan our committee members are from different communities in our service area.

The AIAC worked collaboratively with us to share their experience and assessments to improve ORL accessibility and inclusion.  In this process, the AIAC identified and then prioritized focus areas by sharing different experiences in their interactions with the library and their lives.  They have provided advice to the ORL Management Team on strategies to reduce social, physical, and sensory barriers that prevent people from fully participating in the services, programming, spaces, and collections of the ORL.  Finally, the AIAC helped review the planned feedback tools and this accessibility plan.

Our discussion with the AIAC included some great strategic thinking that has been subsequently shared with our strategic planning team.  Some of these insights were realizing that not every library user is a reader and that there is a high correlation between disability & economic barriers.  The AIAC is hopeful that our strategic planning teams can include accessibility and the undeniable mission of welcome.

The AIAC helped us learn more about living with a disability and the barriers that make it difficult to participate fully in our communities and our library.  They brainstormed specific items that could be improved.  These organized into three themes:

  • Social Accessibility – How important it is to create a culture of welcome, to always keep learning, and to work on instigating a mindset shift in staff and our communities to create an accessible culture.
  • Physical Accessibility – Our discussion with our committee also focused on building an accessible built environment, what we already have, what’s working, and what’s nor working.  Our committee helped us identify other areas to improve – using, getting, moving around, and feeling safe in our spaces.  They helped us understand the importance of planning to complete a full accessibility audit of all our branches.
  • Digital Accessibility – Finally they helped us explore possible ways to improve the accessibility of our technology that both for staff and the public use.

Our Accessibility Plan

From these three themes Accessible Culture, Accessible Built Environment, and Accessible Technology came our focus areas.  They are chosen to be broad in nature both to leave room for flexibility, but also to recognize the short timeline we have for this plan.  These focus areas were prioritized according to the importance value given by our Accessibility and Inclusion Advisory Committee and the ease of implementation value from the ORL management team.  Each item was ranked from 0 to 100 where 0 was not important/impossible to implement and 100 is very important/easy to implement.  In the end a matrix is completed with four quadrants, primary effort, quick wins, innovation, and low priority.

We have plotted these areas into a Prioritization Matrix table to balance between importance, according to our committee, and ease of implementation, according to the ORL’s management team.  This will help focus our efforts when improving accessibility in the coming years.

Primary Effort

Focus areas that are in the primary effort quadrant are items that are a high priority and easy to accomplish.  There are six focus areas that we will be focusing on:

  • Accessibility of Programming:  identify and reduce accessibility barriers to programs and events. 
  • Community Engagement: engage with individuals with disabilities, their families and support networks, and our accessibility committee to ensure the disability community’s perspectives are considered our accessibility initiatives.
  • Programming Content: promote a culture of understanding, awareness, and inclusion by connecting with local disability organizations and advocacy groups to collaborate on accessibility projects, community events, and library programming.
  • Safe Spaces:  review our basic emergency planning to ensure that accessibility has been included to ensure safe spaces for all, especially during emergencies. 
  • Signage: complete a sign audit in our branches looking at appropriate mapping and wayfinding to find washrooms, elevators, and service points.  Signs will use easy-to-read language with high contrast colours and universal symbols. 
  • Website Accessibility: work to make sure our website is easy to use for everyone. We will follow best practices for web accessibility and consider including an accessibility widget so users can personalize their website accessibility settings to meet their needs.

Quick Wins

Items in the quick win quadrant are easy to implement, but not high in importance.  We have three focus areas that will be working on to create some quick wins.

  • Improving Public Computers: our public computers to be accessible and useful to everyone. We will assess their current accessibility and use the concepts of Universal Design to review improvements in ergonomics and hardware.  We will also explore adding assistive technologies like screen readers, cameras, and accessible software.
  • Quick Reference Guides: create guides, brochures, and quick tips for staff and patrons that will include information on accessibility services at the library, information on relevant local organizations, how to use accessibility features and software on our computers, and other accessibility topics.
  • Website Organization: we are currently redoing our website and we will work to organize our website content so people can easily find information on library services, collections, and programs that meet their needs.


Innovation focus areas are items that are highly important but difficult to complete and will require some innovative thinking to complete.

  • Communications: when the ORL communicates to the public, whether website, press releases, or reporting, we will use Plain Language concepts and where possible communications will be available in multiple formats.
  • Reaching Out to Everyone: create inclusive marketing campaigns that reach and engage all members of our community using both digital and traditional methods. Our messages will be clear, easy to understand, and accessible to everyone. 
  • Physical Space Accessibility: conduct accessibility audits of all library branches to identify barriers and prioritize improvements.  This will cover library spaces and ergonomic furniture such as standing desks, tactile bumps, lighting, and auditory announcements. This will also include consider sensory-friendly spaces (including our washrooms).
  • Staff Training: audit current training to ensure accessibility concepts are woven throughout and conduct specialized training or workshops for library staff to raise awareness about accessibility, disability inclusion, and the importance of fostering an inclusive environment.

Low Priority

These items are more difficult to accomplish but are still relatively important.  Our committee ranked most things high in importance, so while these are low priority, we recognize that to our committee and to various disabilities within these items they are still important.  

  • Internal Structures:  survey staff and review human resources processes to identify and prioritize internal structures that need improvement to be more accessible.  
  • Accessible Transportation: work with local transportation authorities and disability organizations to improve public transportation options to ORL branches and provide information on accessible transportation to customers.

We have plotted these areas into a Prioritization Matrix table to balance between importance, according to our committee, and ease of implementation, according to the ORL’s management team.  This will help focus our efforts when improving accessibility in the coming years.


A prioritization matrix with focus areas arranged into four quadrants according to the importance and east of implementation.  The lines determining the quadrant lines are at 79 for Implementation and 35 for Ease of Implementation.

The asigned points for each area are:

Primary Effort:

  • Accessibility of Programming (93,60)
  • Community Engagement (85,60)
  • Programming Content (82,60)
  • Safe Spaces (98,50)
  • Signage (88,80)
  • Website Accessibility (79,40)

Quick Wins:

  • Improving Public Computers (69,60)
  • Quick Reference Guides (75,80)
  • Website Organization (65,40)


  • Communications (91,30)
  • Physical Space Accessibility (86,30)
  • Reaching Out to Everyone (79,30)
  • Staff Training (96,15)

Low Priority:

  • Accessible Transportation (79,3)
  • Internal Structures (78,10)

Our Feedback Tools

Our feedback tools will be evolving overtime with the upcoming standards and as we complete a new updated website.  We will be creating multiple avenues for feedback with flexibility in use to allow people to use the method that’s easiest for them to use.  Our multiple avenues are:

  • Online Contact Us form – has been updated to include “Accessibility” option initially and our new Contact Us page will be improved for accessibility with the new website coming within the next year.
  • Paper comment forms – are available in all our branches for customers to fill out and return to ORL staff.
  • A virtual extension – will be created for people that would prefer to leave a voicemail.
  • Mail – People may also send mail to any of our branches.  Our preferred location is the ORL’s Administration Centre (1430 KLO Rd., Kelowna, BC   V1W 3P6).

All these tools use Plain Language concepts and larger font sizes.  We will be creating a FAQs page that will explain how feedback is handled and set expectations for how we address it. 

Staff will be trained on these new processes – both how to handle feedback they’ve received but also how to help someone share their feedback.

As these improvements are made, we will be meeting with our Accessibility & Inclusion Advisory Committee and others in the disability community to learn more about how this is working to ensure continuous improvement.