In providing its services, the Agency is committed to clear and timely communications, and enhanced dialogue with clients and stakeholders.
The Agency strives to achieve this by:
Effectively communicating the Agency's role, objectives, priorities and processes.
Regularly engaging in dialogues with external clients and stakeholders.
Improving the Agency's ability to identify and respond to client and stakeholder issues and needs.
As part of its commitment to providing more easily understood information, the Agency's redesigned Web site was launched on February 4, 2009. The Agency consulted with stakeholders and clients during the site's development, resulting in a new site that is better tailored to the needs and requirements of its diverse users.
Helping to anticipate and address accessible transportation challenges
On March 30, 2009, the Agency launched its new publication Take Charge of Your Travel at its Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting in Ottawa.
Take Charge accompanies the reader from start to finish of a trip. It can be used by travellers, travel agents and transportation service providers to plan trips and ensure that accessibility needs are met.
Developed in consultation with representatives from associations of persons with disabilities and the transportation industry, this new guide will meet the needs of more travellers, as it covers all federally-regulated modes of transportation. It describes services and features for travellers with disabilities who use airplanes and trains, as well as passenger ferries and buses that cross international or provincial borders.
"[…] Knowledge is the key factor for any travel preparations, and this guide puts a great deal of knowledge in the [traveller's] hands."
– Sheila Duhaim, WestJet
Encouraging the exchange of ideas
To facilitate an open dialogue with clients and stakeholders, the Agency has initiated small- and large-scale consultations, as well as roundtable meetings. Examples include:
The meeting of the Agency's Accessibility Advisory Committee, held in March 2009, which brought together members of the transportation industry with groups representing persons with disabilities;
The Guidelines for the Resolution of Complaints Concerning Rail Noise and Vibration, launched in October 2008, which were the fruit of extensive consultations and resulted in the creation of a technical advisory committee to provide expertise on best practices related to noise and vibration issues; and
Dialogues with community and industry stakeholders, which will continue throughout 2009-10.
Over the years, the Agency has published a number of codes of practice on making the federal transportation system more accessible to persons with disabilities. The Agency regularly consults with stakeholders on how to best implement the provisions of these codes and provides clarification as necessary, especially following regulatory changes.
In a Decision issued in October 2008, the Agency addressed a provision of the Agency's Code of Practice: Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities requiring tactile row markers to be placed "on overhead bins or on passenger aisle seats."
Recognizing practical difficulties in implementing the provision, the Agency is holding consultations with industry and interested parties to explore alternatives that will permit persons with visual impairments to independently find their assigned seats.
The Agency is also developing an implementation guide to assist air carriers in applying a provision of the Air Code on the accommodation of persons travelling with service animals, and in meeting the requirements of the Air Transportation Regulations. These regulations require that service animals be carried free of charge and be permitted to remain on the floor at the passenger's seat.
In a June 2008 Decision, the Agency stated that if the space available is so limited that it causes extreme discomfort to the traveller or animal, it can increase the risk of injury to both and affect their safety and well-being. Consultations are being held to help air carriers determine the floor space requirements for service dogs.
Obtaining feedback from clients
In order to better identify and respond to the needs of Canadians, the Agency has also developed a framework to measure client satisfaction, as well as client-focussed surveys which will begin to be implemented in 2009-10. These tools will provide crucial feedback on the Agency's performance and client issues, and will help continually improve service delivery and responsiveness.
Measures of satisfaction with Agency services related to serving the needs of users of, service providers within and others affected by the national transportation system
Develop a plan to measure client satisfaction by 2008
Conduct benchmark surveys and set targets by 2009-10