Accessibility in the BC Public Service

Last updated: May 3, 2022

Accessibility-confident employers are mindful of the needs of employees with disabilities when they create employment opportunities, embrace digital accessibility and develop and implement policies and practices that ensure employees with disabilities are included.  

For more information, please visit our homepage – the Diversity & Inclusion Resource Centre – which includes information about the Diversity & Inclusion Strategy, Indigenous initiativesLearning and resourcesGovernance and Community.

On this page

What is a disability?

The Accessible B.C. Act defines 'disability' as an inability to participate fully and equally in society as a result of the interaction of an impairment and a barrier.

Is there a 'right' way to talk about disability?

When addressing/identifying a broader audience where individual preferences may be unknown, language that refers to the person first and the disability second, such as 'people with disabilities,' is recommended. However, it is appropriate to say ‘disabled people’ when talking about how barriers disable people.

Ultimately, employees are encouraged to be sensitive, flexible and overcome any individual bias, discomfort or fear related to disability by asking individuals their personal language preference.

Employees should be aware that terms like 'diversability,' 'handicapped,' 'impaired' and others have been used in literature to describe/identify a person with a disability. These terms are sometimes used by individuals or communities that identify with specific types of disability, but generally speaking, employees in the BC Public Service are encouraged to use the word 'disability' to avoid confusion from the reader and demonstrate best practice while acknowledging this diverse portion of the population.

Barriers to employment

The Accessible B.C. Act defines a 'barrier' as anything that hinders the full and equal participation in society of a person with an impairment.

A barrier can be:

  • Caused by environments, attitudes, practices, policies, information, communications, or technologies, and
  • Affected by intersecting forms of discrimination

There are 6 identified barriers that stop people with disabilities from participating successfully in the workplace.

When people without disabilities think and act based upon false assumptions, such as:

  • Making decisions about people with disabilities without including them
  • Not believing that a person with a disability can contribute to the workforce

When obstacles in an environment make it difficult to access, such as:

  • Hosting inaccessible events or meeting spaces
  • A washroom with an accessible stall but no automatic door opener

When people with disabilities use different ways to communicate than people who do not have disabilities, such as:

  • Using small print or not providing large-print versions of material
  • Videos, events, or meetings that do not have closed captions

When an organization’s policies, practices or procedures result in exclusion, such as:

  • Not providing American Sign Language Interpreter or closed captioning
  • Requiring a driver’s license for a job that could be reorganized to use another form of transportation

When technology can’t be accessed by people with disabilities, such as when:

  • Websites, documents, or databases are not accessible for screen readers
  • Website graphs and charts are posted without text to explain them

Sensory barriers

When sensory information such as lights, sounds, smells, etc. impede people with disabilities to participate in the environment, such as: 

  • Co-workers wearing perfume in the workplace
  • Use of fluorescent lighting in the workplace 


Managers' Guide to Reasonable Accommodation

The Managers' Guide to Reasonable Accommodation is intended for managers and supervisors of the BC Public Service.

The guide is key to being an inclusive employer, respond effectively to individual accommodation needs, fulfill responsibilities and meet Where Ideas Work 2020 goals.

Work-Able Internship Program

The Work-Able internship program is a 12-month paid internship with the BC Public Service for recent (within the last three years) post-secondary graduates who self-identify as having a disability.

Each year, this unique program provides learning, coaching and mentorship to employees who face barriers to achieving gainful employment.