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Accessibility Plan

General

Introduction

Since the van line’s Canadian market entry in 1963, Atlas Van Lines (Canada) Ltd. has become the nation’s largest long distance residential and corporate mover. With a network of over 100 qualified Atlas agents across Canada we provide local, long distance, international, cross border, logistics and specialized moving services.

The following is the Accessibility Plan for Atlas Van Lines. This Plan explains what we are doing to increase accessibility inside our organization. It describes the goals we have committed to achieving in the 3-year period from June 1, 2024, to May 31, 2027. Each year, we will write and publicly post a progress report outlining the actions we have taken to fulfill the commitments made in this plan.

To build this plan we looked at seven different areas of our company to see how we could make it more accessible. We looked at:

  • Built environment (buildings)
  • Employment
  • Technology
  • Communications
  • Buying goods, services, and facilities
  • Programs and services
  • Transportation (for passengers)

During the preparation of this accessibility plan, we consulted with people with disabilities.

Contact Information & Feedback Process

Atlas Van Lines welcomes feedback, including feedback submitted anonymously. Our employees, moving agents and members of the public are all invited to provide feedback about this plan and about accessibility at Atlas more generally. We are committed to reviewing the feedback and taking steps to address identified barriers.

You can submit feedback about accessibility at Atlas Van Lines or this plan by contacting:

Manager, Claims Services

Email: accessibility@atlasvanlines.ca
Phone: 1-833-842-5665
Mail: 485 North Service Road
East Oakville, ON L6H 1A5

You can also submit feedback on our social media channels:

Alternate Formats

You can request alternative formats of this plan, and a description of our feedback process by contacting the Manager, Claims Services, using one of the contact methods listed above.

Atlas will provide the following alternative formats within 15 days of the initial request:

  • Print
  • Large print (Increased font size)

Atlas will provide the following alternative formats within 45 days of the initial request:

  • Braille (a system of raised dots that people who are blind or who have low vision can read with their fingers)
  • Audio (a recording of someone reading the text out loud)

Definitions

The following definitions apply throughout this plan:

  • Agent (or “moving agent”): A local moving company that works with Atlas to perform long-distance moves.
  • Disability: Any impairment, or difference in physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, or communication ability. Disabilities can be permanent, temporary, or can change over time.
  • Barrier: Anything that might hinder people with disabilities’ full and equal participation. 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 a variety of disabilities, to access them.
  • Remediate: To fix something or make it right. In this case remediation refers to changing things to make them more accessible.

About Atlas Van Lines

Atlas Van Lines is a private company with an office in Oakville, Ontario. People know us as a moving company. But we don’t actually provide moving services ourselves. Instead, we work with 150 different local moving companies who conduct moves. These local moving services are our “agents.” Agents follow our guidance and pricing models for longer moves. We provide sales, administrative and operational support, logistics and coordination for long moves. We support over 10,000 moves per year. In some years, we support as many as 26,000 moves. Atlas Canada’s parent company is Atlas World Group. Atlas World Group is headquartered in the United States.

As a leader among Canada’s moving companies, Atlas strives to be a role model to the whole industry around embracing accessibility.

Areas Described under Section 5 of the ACA

The Built Environment

The Atlas office is in Oakville, Ontario. The building was constructed in 1996. We hired an accessibility consultant to assess the built environment in March 2024. They found several barriers to people with disabilities. It will take time for us to address all of them. Our built environment commitments for the next three years are:

  1. By June 2025, we will lower the height of items in the office that are hanging on walls, including fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and towel dispensers.
  2. By December 2025, we will address barriers located at the front entrance of our building. This includes repairing the crumbling concrete on the lip of the front entrance, lowering the height of the intercom system button, and smoothing the walkway.
  3. By June 2026, we will build a gender-neutral, accessible washroom on the first floor of our building.
  4. By June 2026, we will create a plan for addressing other barriers in our built environment.

Employment

Approximately 70 people work at Atlas. Up until now, Atlas has responded to accessibility needs on a one-off basis. As a result of the Accessible Canada Act (ACA), Atlas is now working more systematically to improve accessibility. We have considered how our operations may present barriers to employees, customers, and agents with disabilities. To help shift our work culture to one that prioritizes accessibility, we will prioritize our goals in this area.
Our employment commitments for the next three years are:

  1. By November 2024, we will provide relevant staff with training around accessibility and disability issues. The training will focus on providing customer service to people with disabilities.
  2. By January 2025, we will write a workplace accommodation policy. We will hold a staff information meeting about the policy and any related procedures.
  3. By March 2025, we will train Atlas human resources staff and managers on the duty to accommodate and best practices in staff accommodations. This will include supporting employees with mental health conditions.
  4. By June 2025, all our human resources staff and hiring managers will receive training in best practices in inclusive recruitment and hiring. This includes specific training in writing inclusive job descriptions and job postings.
  5. By June 2025, we will consult with the recruiting agencies Atlas uses. We will explore how they may make their recruitment practices more accessible to people with disabilities.
  6. By June 2025, we will revise our Risk Recognition and Awareness Policies to reflect how people with disabilities will be assisted in office emergencies, such as a fire.
  7. By June 2025, we will implement a check-in or other centralized system for staff to indicate when they are working at the office.
  8. By September 2025, we will make all employee-facing policies available in MS Word or in an accessible format. All policies will be in a centralized digital location.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

Atlas has one main public-facing website: AtlasVanLines.ca. When we consulted with people with disabilities about this Plan, the group flagged several barriers, many of which are addressed in our goals below. We are focused on making this site accessible by the end of 2024.

Another platform we use is a business-based system (or “enterprise” system) for Atlas agents at AtlasCanada.com. This system is slowly being phased out. It is being replaced by AtlasNet by the end of 2024. This is the web-based system that handles bookings, logistics, and coordination of moves from beginning to end. AtlasNet is the responsibility of our parent company, Atlas World Group.

A significant opportunity for increased digital accessibility is available through our efforts to point the AtlasCanada.com domain to a new, accessible website. Our team has a prime opportunity to build this site specifically with accessibility in mind. This site could serve as a model of accessibility to the agents who will use it.

Our commitments in ICT for the next three years are:

  1. By December 2024, AtlasVanLines.ca will have WordPress plugins installed that will increase the accessibility of the website.
  2. By February 2025, we will conduct website user testing with people with disabilities to check improvements and identify any further accessibility barriers on AtlasVanLines.ca.
  3. By June 2025, AtlasVanLines.ca will meet the WCAG 2.2 A standard.
  4. Every year, Atlas staff will review or audit the websites to maintain their accessibility.
  5. By June 2025, we will consult with Atlas World Group around future plans to increase the accessibility of AtlasNet.
  6. By June 2025, we will train IT and communications staff in digital accessibility, as it applies to their jobs.
  7. By March 2026, we will be closing the inventory app for our drivers. We will write accessibility criteria for the app that we will then use during the process of procuring software for a new app alternative.
  8. By June 2026, AtlasVanLines.ca will meet the WCAG 2.2 AA standard.
  9. By June 2026, we will have advocated to Atlas World Group, our parent company that is responsible for online claims forms, to simplify the online claim filing process. This includes making the online forms more intuitive and accessible.

Communication, other than ICT

Our commitments in communications for the next three years are:

  1. By June 2026, Atlas Canada will work with Atlas World Group to explore options to make all of Atlas’ brand and communications standards and style guides accessible. We will also explore creating photos that include people with disabilities for the website and other communications assets.
  2. By June 2026, we will train communications and relevant IT staff on accessible communications, accessible websites, accessible social media, and digital accessibility.
  3. By June 2026, we will develop an internal set of guidelines for accessible social media practices. This will include guidance on camel case hashtags, use of alt text for images, best practices for video captions.
  4. By December 2026, we will implement a Teletypewriter line that can be used by deaf stakeholders.
  5. By January 2027, we will post digital versions of paper brochures on AtlasVanLines.ca.

Procurement of Goods, Services and Facilities

Under this goal, we will work to formalize including accessibility as a part of our standard procurement processes.
Our commitment around procurement for the next three years is:

  1. By June 2025, we will create a checklist that can be used to consider the accessibility of any given good or service being procured.

Design and Delivery of Programs and Services

Our commitments in the design and delivery of our programs and services for the next three years are:

  1. By June 2025, we will train local agents at regional meetings about provincial requirements for accessible customer service, and how to provide it.
  2. By June 2026, we will develop advice and/or policies regarding accessible customer service that Atlas agents are expected to comply with.
  3. By June 2026, we will explore the possibility of creating accessible (i.e. not PDF) digital forms to be made available to Atlas agents for their customers
  4. By January 2027, we will engage Atlas World Group about creating an accessible alternative to the ways Atlas agents and staff use AtlasNet for handling paperwork.

Transportation

Under the ACA, transportation refers to people, not products. The Atlas office is serviced by two nearby bus routes, which are used by some Atlas staff. The routes are managed by Oakville Transit. One route that stops north of the building requires staff walk through a very large parking lot. The other route requires staff to walk for 10 minutes along a street that has no sidewalk. Neither of these options are ideal in dark or icy conditions, or for people with mobility issues and/or devices.

Our commitment related to transportation for the next three years is:

  1. By December 2025, we will engage Oakville Transit in a discussion about the possibility of modifying the bus route to increase safety and accessibility for Atlas staff who use public transit.

Consultations

During the preparation of this accessibility plan, we consulted with people with disabilities. Specifically, we met with the members of Left Turn Right Turn’s Accessibility Advisory Group (AAG). This is a group of Canadians with a variety of disabilities who provide feedback and insights about disability and accessibility issues.

We asked the AAG for feedback on things such as:

  • our public-facing website
  • ways to make inquiries, get a quote for a move, and submit a claim for a damaged item
  • creating a personalized moving calendar
  • our social media channels
  • our paper-based forms
  • our online job postings

Relevant and actionable feedback from the AAG was incorporated into the final version of this accessibility plan.

Conclusion

Inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of our organization is a top priority for Atlas Van Lines. We are committed to improving accessibility by implementing this accessibility plan by June 2027. We are also dedicated to continuing the work of examining our practices and operations to find and address barriers to accessibility. We understand that accessibility is an ongoing process, and we are committed to engaging in that process through consultation with people who have disabilities.