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IDRC’s Accessibility Plan 2023–2025

Easy read summary

Note: This easy read summary is a simplified and shorter version of our Accessibility Plan. Please skip to the section called General to read the full Accessibility Plan.

This plan is about accessibility at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). It was written in response to the Accessible Canada Act (ACA), passed in 2019, that aims to make Canada barrier-free by 2040.

At IDRC, we want to be more accessible to people with disabilities — this plan will help us achieve our goal. It covers the next three years (2023–2025), after which we will create a new plan.

Our plan

Over the next three years, IDRC will:

  1. Develop a plan to help people with disabilities during emergencies at our office.
  2. Establish accommodation rules that will help all employees do their job. 
  3. Evaluate the way we find and hire new employees, including our job postings, to ensure there are no barriers.
  4. Ensure there are no barriers to applying for jobs and grants on our website.  
  5. Train all IDRC employees about accessibility and disability.
  6. Make our social media more accessible.
  7. Improve the accessibility of our office space, including push buttons for doors and Braille on our elevators.
  8. Ensure our resource library is accessible.
  9. Establish rules for our procurement process to ensure accessible goods, services and facilities.
  10. Ensure our content is accessible in a range of formats and that it is easy to request different formats.
  11. Communicate in language that is inclusive, respectful and easy to understand.

1. General general

1.1 Statement of commitment

IDRC is committed to ensuring that our community can access knowledge and research opportunities in an accessible manner. We are dedicated to ensuring our workplace, programs and communications are as inclusive as possible.

We understand that accessibility is an ongoing process. We know that people with disabilities are the experts in their own experience and in accessibility, so we commit to listening to people who have disabilities to continue improving our accessibility.

It takes diversity of thought, culture, background and perspective to create a truly global research community. We see IDRC boldly leading towards a future where research is equitable and inclusive and reflects the diversity of our research community. We commit to a continued focus on equitable hiring, training, research practices and policies.

We strive to be responsive in our approach to inclusion and access. We have proactively planned for a more accessible space. This commitment is rooted in our culture, as evidenced by the work done by the Accessibility Working Group to improve our understanding of the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) and implement its recommendations.

A key example of the strong work being done in accessibility at IDRC is the development of a diversity and inclusion committee. This committee will focus on accessibility as part of its work. IDRC has also completed a diversity census to assess where we are in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion work.

1.2 Contact information & feedback process contact

IDRC welcomes feedback about accessibility and this plan from our employees, member institutions and members of the public. We are committed to reviewing the feedback in good faith and taking steps to address barriers that are identified.

Feedback about accessibility at IDRC or about this plan may be submitted by contacting

Andrée Leduc, Manager, Employee and Labour Relations & Health and Safety at:

  • E-mail address:
  • Mailing address: PO Box 8500, Ottawa, ON Canada K1G 3H9

Alternative formats of this plan and a description of our feedback process may also be requested by contacting Andrée Leduc at the address above.

Once requested, a print or large print (increased font size) version will be provided within 15 days and/or a Braille version (a system of raised dots that people who are blind or who have low vision can read with their fingers) or an audio recording of someone reading the plan aloud will be provided within 45 days.

Information about submitting feedback to IDRC is also available on our contact us page.

1.3 Definitions definitions

The following definitions apply throughout this plan:

Disability: Any impairment or difference in physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, sensory or communication ability. Disabilities can be permanent, temporary and/or can change over time.

Barrier: Anything that might hinder the full and equal participation of people with disabilities. Barriers can be architectural, technological, attitudinal, based on information or communications, or can be the result of a policy or procedure.

Accessibility: The design of products, devices, services, environments, technologies, policies and rules in a way that allows all people, including people with disabilities, to access them.

1.4 Description of IDRC description

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) champions and funds research and innovation and shares knowledge to support change in the world’s developing regions. Our work is part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts. To support these efforts, we:

  • invest in high-quality research in developing countries;
  • share knowledge with researchers and policymakers; and
  • work together with other organizations that share our goals to build a more sustainable and inclusive world.

Our head office is located in Ottawa, Canada. We also have five regional offices around the world that keep us close to the researchers and projects we fund. The regional offices are located in:

  • Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Dakar, Senegal
  • Amman, Jordan
  • New Delhi, India

Information about IDRC-supported projects is available on our website.

2. IDRC's Accessibility Plan accessibility

2.1 Built environment

The majority of IDRC’s employees work in Ottawa, Ontario. The Centre moved into a new office space in late 2022 that includes upgrades from our previous office to improve accessibility. We know that the accessibility of the built environment has a significant impact on whether people with disabilities can access and function within a space in an equitable manner with those who do not have disabilities.

Our goals to improve the built environment at our head office and regional offices are the following:

  1. By June 2023, we will have an inventory of which doors could benefit from an automatic door-opener in addition to manual door handles (Ottawa).
  2. By December 2023, we will have an inventory of where additional accessible signage may be needed and identify possible barriers associated with finding one’s way (Ottawa).
  3. Starting in 2024, prioritized barriers associated with signage and finding one’s way will be addressed (Ottawa).
  4. IDRC will advocate with building management to make elevators more accessible (Ottawa).
  5. By 2024, we will review the accessibility of our regional offices and identify improvements that can be made (Amman, Dakar, Montevideo, Nairobi and New Delhi).

2.2 Employment employment

IDRC employs approximately 330 people. Most of these positions are office-based in Ottawa. Since 2020, many employees have worked from home or in a hybrid format from the office and from home. Our employees work in a variety of roles including managing research projects, reviewing grant applications, managing our website and social media, and many more. We strive for our employees to be reflective of Canada’s diversity.  

Being an accessible employer means that we will remove barriers within IDRC employment practices and workplace culture. We will strive to be inclusive and accommodating of all employees and candidates with disabilities. We understand the benefits to continuing to develop our accessible employment practices, which include better job retention, higher attendance, lower turnover, enhanced job performance and work quality and a more innovative workforce.  

The goals outlined below will help us to improve accessibility for our current and future employees with disabilities.

  1. In 2023, IDRC will continue to communicate its telework and flexible work options to ensure that employees are aware of how to request  their need for accommodation to their managers.
  2. In 2023, IDRC will work with managers to ensure they consider individual employee needs when applying the telework policy (i.e. accommodation requirements).
  3. In 2023, IDRC will review the feasibility of adjusting internal meeting norms. This may include setting meeting-free hours, breaks between meetings and/or breaks during longer meetings.
  4. By June 2023, IDRC will develop and document a process for employee accommodations. IDRC will also update the Employee Health and Wellness document to reflect the new process.
  5. Starting in September 2023, IDRC will review and revise all new job postings to reflect respectful and inclusive language.
  6. By December 2023, IDRC will document how it gathers participant allergies or other food restrictions before any event where food is served.
  7. By the end of 2023, IDRC will ensure that all employees know how to self-disclose if they have a disability.
  8. By the end of 2023, IDRC will review and/or update the statement on the careers webpage to encourage people with disabilities to apply.
  9. By January 2024, IDRC will review options for the potential development of an employee resource group and/or identify other resource groups outside of IDRC for employees with disabilities.
  10. By June 2024, IDRC will train all managers on the accommodations process.
  11. By the end of 2024, IDRC will complete an employment system review to identify and start to remove barriers to employment for people with disabilities.
  12. By the end of 2024, IDRC will develop a strategy for hiring more people with disabilities.
  13. By the end of 2025, IDRC will have mandatory disability awareness and training for all managers.

2.3 Information and communication technologies (ICT) ICT

Websites can be assessed for accessibility in a variety of ways. The IDRC website is accessible for people who use screen readers to navigate, but that does not necessarily mean that it is accessible for all people. The best method for determining whether a website is accessible is to have it assessed by people with disabilities.  

IDRC has committed to perform an analysis of the Centre’s website. Once the analysis is complete, we will develop a plan to ensure that the barriers identified during the audit are removed. Employees will then be trained on how to produce accessible content for IDRC’s website.

The following steps will be taken to improve the accessibility of our communications:

  1. By December 2023, IDRC will complete an accessibility audit of our website.
  2. By June 2024, IDRC will develop a plan for remediation of barriers on our website.
  3. Starting in July 2024, IDRC will begin remediating the barriers on our website, according to the plan.

2.4 Communications (other than ICT) communications

We offer information on our website and social media pages about our programs and grant opportunities. We also offer academic publications and projects in our resource library. We answer questions through our “contact us” form on our website, with options for people to e-mail or call us.

At IDRC, we are aware of the need to have content in plain language that is inclusive of a wide range of audiences and learning styles. We are striving to develop a plain language strategy that will be rolled out and incorporated into all our online and print content. We are also aware of a need to provide alternative formats of materials to visitors with print or visual disabilities. We have a plan to make alternative formats available for individuals who request them.  

To improve the accessibility of our communications, we will undertake the following:

  1. By June 2023, IDRC will have a teletypewriter (TTY) number listed on our website.
  2. By June 2023, IDRC to update its style guide to reflect inclusive language. 
  3. By December 2023, IDRC will develop an internal standard on when it offers sign language interpretation. This standard will include when sign language interpretation will be provided at meetings or in videos without a request and how requests will be resolved.
  4. Starting in 2024, IDRC will provide sign language interpretation according to this standard. 
  5. By September 2023, IDRC will establish a process outlining how to request documents in an alternate format. This process will clearly communicate the timelines for meeting requests.
  6. By September 2023, IDRC will establish a source list for required accessibility services (i.e., a list of service providers we use for accessibility services when needed).
  7. By December 2023, IDRC will establish internal plain language and inclusive language standards in English and French based on the target audience of the document that is being drafted/published.
  8. By December 2023, IDRC will establish processes for reviewing written communication to ensure it meets plain language and inclusive language standards on a go-forward basis.
  9. By June 2024, IDRC will provide employees with training and/or resources, as appropriate, on the use of plain language and inclusive language.
  10. By December 2025, prioritized documents will be revised to be in plain language.
  11. By March 2024, in consultation with people with disabilities, IDRC will review our internal norms or standards on image descriptions to guide staff.
  12. Starting in April 2024, IDRC will ensure that all newly posted website or social media images have high quality alt-text.
  13. By April 2024, IDRC will have a workplan to prioritize and update the alt-text for older images on IDRC website as needed.
  14. By April 2024, IDRC will update its Visual Identity and Branding Statement to include a section on creating an accessible brand, with specific guidelines for font and contrast. This will include what fonts are best for visual accessibility and which colours are easiest to read.

2.5 Procurement of goods, services and facilities procurement

Although they have not been released yet, we anticipate that the ACA will eventually publish specific standards related to procurement. These may not be specific, but rather a general requirement to consider accessibility criteria when procuring goods and services. Accessible procurement is essential to diversity, inclusion and belonging because it prevents barriers from being created. IDRC is working on various initiatives to apply accessibility requirements in procurement, which means ensuring that the goods and services we purchase are accessible and usable by everyone, including persons with disabilities.

To improve the accessibility of our procurement, we will:

  1. By December 2023, IDRC will review the feasibility of adding accessibility considerations to procurement checklists, procurement policy, requirement templates and template contracts.
  2. Through this review, IDRC will also consider the feasibility of explicitly considering accessibility in all procurements.

2.6 Design and delivery of programs and services programsandservices

IDRC offers grants, funding, and awards to researchers and institutions to find solutions for global development challenges. Through calls for research proposals, we fund projects that aim to foster:

  • climate-resilient food systems
  • global health
  • education and science
  • democratic and inclusive governance, and
  • sustainable and inclusive economies in developing countries.

Gender equality and inclusion are also central to our strategy and the research we support.

We are aware that policies governing the use of funds for successful research can provide limited recognition or guidance for disability-related support. Grants and award budgets do not typically allow for funding specifically for disability accommodations. We are working to ensure that disability-related supports are available during the application process. For example, this could include extensions to deadlines and assistance with completing an application.

In addition to the specific barriers listed below, the items listed as communications (non-ICT) barriers are also largely related to the design and delivery of programs and services.

To improve the accessibility of our programs and services, we will:

  1. By December 2023, IDRC will implement a process outlining how individuals applying for grants can request accommodations. This process will be communicated on our website.
  2. By December 2023, IDRC will appoint an individual to manage accommodation requests from grant applicants.
  3. In 2024, IDRC will investigate the needs and potential solutions for researchers with disabilities in the grant application and implementation process.
  4. In 2024, IDRC will start to collect demographic information on researchers to monitor whether its grant applicants and recipients are representative.
  5. By September 2025, IDRC will develop a plan for making the process for calls for proposals more accessible.

2.7 General generalaccessibility

There are some aspects of creating and maintaining accessibility within an organization that require specific knowledge. For example, if an organization commits to ensuring that all newly created documents will be accessible, it must ensure that employees have the knowledge and skills to meet this commitment.

In some cases, the necessary technical knowledge is relevant for all or most employees at the organization. For example, most individuals will create documents, therefore it is crucial to roll out organization-wide training for accessible documents. In other cases, specific training may only be offered to departments where it is relevant (for example, only employees responsible for creating webpages will need to know how to create accessible webpages for the website).

To improve our overall accessibility, we will:

  1. In 2023, IDRC will review and revise existing accessibility training or seek training from external service providers.
  2. By September 2023, IDRC will develop an outreach strategy to engage the disability community.
  3. By October 2023, IDRC will assess the feasibility of establishing and paying an accessibility disability employee resource group to ensure that all accessibility initiatives are led by people with disabilities.
  4. In 2024, IDRC will develop a training plan that identifies additional training needs across IDRC to support accessibility initiatives. This training plan will be role/branch specific, as required.

2.8 Transportation transportation

As IDRC does not offer transportation, this pillar is not addressed in this plan.

3. Consultations consultations

People with disabilities were consulted in the preparation of this plan. We engaged the services of an agency called Left Turn Right Turn (LTRT) to support us with our consultations. We consulted with a focus group of members from the cross-disability community. This focus group spent time exploring our website content and offered feedback on how our programs could be more accessible. They also advised on areas where we are currently offering inclusive programming.

We also developed a survey, distributed to all IDRC employees, that asked staff whether they had experienced barriers to accessibility. We requested details of barriers they had faced and potential ways to remove them. We also developed a survey to learn from our stakeholders (grantees, researchers) to determine what barriers they experienced when accessing our platforms.

IDRC is committed to responding to people with disabilities. To successfully implement improvements to our accessibility, we must include people with disabilities early and often. We will explore the creation of a disability employee resource group so that employees with disabilities can participate in developing accessible solutions. This group would be included in our project planning and provide feedback.

Stakeholder experience is incredibly valuable to us at IDRC. We rely on our grantees and stakeholders to inform us of their experiences and to let us know where we can improve.

The feedback submitted on our forms by stakeholders helps us identify barriers. This information is also shared with staff and stakeholders.

4. Conclusion conclusion

IDRC has identified the inclusion of people with disabilities as a top priority in all aspects of our organization. Over the next three years, we will implement this accessibility plan, resulting in a significant, positive difference for employees and stakeholders with a wide array of disabilities. Improving accessibility is an ongoing and iterative process and we are committed to working with people with disabilities to make changes that will enhance the experiences of all stakeholders and employees.