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Online Policy Statement
  1. About Us
  2. Accessibility
  3. 2023 Accessibility Plan

Accessibility Plan 2023-2025

CWB Financial Group (Inclusive of Canadian Western Bank and Canadian Western Trust)

This three-year accessibility plan is CWB’s continuation of our journey to achieve the Accessible Canada Act goal of a Canada without barriers by 2040.  It sets out how we will continue to identify, remove and prevent barriers for persons with disabilities. 

 

Glossary

Barrier: Anything that might prevent people with disabilities from fully and equally participating in society. Barriers can be based on attitudes, architecture, technology, information communication or the result of a policy or procedure. 
Accessibility: The design of products, devices, services, environments, technologies, policies and rules to allow all people, including those with a variety of disabilities, to access and use them as independently as they wish. 
Disability: An impairment, or difference in physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning or communication ability. Disabilities can be permanent or temporary and may change over time. 

Alternative Formats: You can request alternative formats of this accessibility plan, or the description of the feedback process, by contacting us from this accessibility page: cwb.com/en/about-us/accessibility.
We will provide alternative formats within these timelines: 

Print: 15 days 
Large print (larger text): 15 days
Electronic format that is compatible with adaptive technology to assist persons with disabilities: 15 days
Braille: 45 days 
Audio (a recording of someone reading the text aloud): 45 days 


 

Contact Information and Feedback Process 

Contact: Accessibility officer. 
Online: Feedback form on this accessibility page cwb.com/en/about-us/accessibility.
Email: [email protected].
By mail: The Accessibility Office, Suite 3000, 10303 Jasper Avenue Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3X6.
Social media: LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter or Instagram.
Phone: 780-423-8888 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., MST, Monday to Friday 
excluding statutory holidays.

Introduction 

Headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, CWB Financial Group (inclusive of our federally regulated entities Canadian Western Bank and Canadian Western Trust), is a diversified financial services organization that provides specialized service across Canada in business and personal banking, equipment financing, trust services and wealth management. 

For decades, CWB set itself apart by connecting with clients on a personal level; by being in the relationship business, not just the banking business. In recent years, the seemingly intangible qualities that made CWB extraordinary – caring, relationship building, fostering trust, anticipating our clients’ needs – have been captured in values that celebrate what’s inherent in our DNA. These values are our north star, and we’ve enriched our culture through transformative change by always practicing values-based leadership. 

At CWB, we are focused on proactively finding ways to help all our clients succeed, and all of our employees thrive. The federal Accessible Canada Act envisions a Canada that is barrier free by 2040. This accessibility plan provides our three-year roadmap to continue moving toward that goal, with an updated plan to be published every three years.  
CWB is committed to treating all people, including our clients, employees and applicants in a way that allows them to maintain their independence and dignity.
CWB is also committed to being an equitable employer and providing an inclusive environment for a diverse workforce, including but not limited to women, persons with visible and invisible disabilities, Indigenous persons, racialized persons, and individuals who identify as LBGTQ2S+.  

We believe that inclusion has power. It is one of our core values.

We know that diverse teams unleash innovative ideas and perspectives to support everyone, and this accessibility plan forms a key part of our commitment.

 

Developing the CWB Accessibility Plan

Building on our strengths
CWB is proud of the steps we have taken to date to support accessibility. The goals of our accessibility program include:

  1. Providing accessible customer service through online, telephone and in-person communication channels 
  2. Providing accessible (barrier free) buildings and spaces as required by accessibility legislation and local building codes
  3. Supporting employees with disabilities to reduce or eliminate barriers they may have in the workplace
  4. Treating customers and employees who have disabilities with equality and dignity in ways that support their independence


Over the period 2019-2022, we have accomplished many important milestones in pursuit of these goals.  They include accessibility-focused enhancements to employee training, communication formats and supports, feedback processes, website and web content development, design of our public spaces as well as our employment practices.

Our continued focus on accessibility, removing barriers, and enhancing the employee experience with positive improvements has most recently included:

  • Introducing a role-specific accessibility training program
  • Enhancing our public website to be compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
  • Enhancing the enterprise accessibility feedback process
  • Revising and re-launching a toolkit for people leaders to support managing employees with disabilities
  • Introducing a technology solution that allows for live transcription of internal meetings to support those with hearing issues
  • Enhancing the support and linkage between the CWB Accessibility Officer team and a new CWB Employee Represented Group for employees who are disabled (Visible and Invisible Disabilities Advocates, or VIDA)
  • Creating a digital accessibility strategy
  • Developing guidelines for accessible printed materials
  • Exploring new ways to support clients with disabilities

Developing Our Next Steps

 

To develop this new accessibility plan, CWB obtained feedback from internal and external stakeholders by distributing two online surveys to:

  • Clients and general public
  • Employees
  • Internal stakeholders received the results from both surveys to help them identify targeted action items for this accessibility plan. 

Consultations 

Survey Consultations
To ensure quality survey results, CWB engaged a third-party market research firm having specific relevant industry experience in developing and analyzing accessibility surveys. 

Clients and General Public Survey
CWB distributed the anonymous online survey to: 

  • A selection of business and personal banking clients (approximately 16 per cent of CWB’s client base)
  • Disability organizations that operate in the communities where CWB does business
  • General populations in Ontario and Western Canada near CWB banking centres (consisting of individuals who identify as living with a disability, or who represent someone who is living with a disability) 

Of the 1,200 surveys received, approximately 66 per cent of respondents said they are living with a disability or support a person living with a disability. 

Employee Survey
All employees received the anonymous, online survey. Of the 410 surveys received, approximately 45 per cent of respondents said that they are living with a disability or provide banking services to clients with disabilities. 

Employee Involvement in the Process
Members of VIDA (Visible and Invisible Disability Advocates), a CWB Employee Represented Group, reviewed the general survey and provided input to its design. 

VIDA members, CWB employees with disabilities, and multiple CWB team members in various areas then provided their feedback and ideas, based on the survey feedback, to form the basis of this accessibility plan.  

Areas Described Under Section 5 of the ACA 

CWB’s accessibility plan is a three-year plan (2023 to 2025) that proposes actions to build on our progress across seven priority areas: employment; built environment; Information and Communication Technologies (ICT); communication other than ICT; procurement of goods, services and facilities; and design and delivery of programs and services.

Employment – Supporting our employees and candidates

Key areas of accomplishment to date:

  • A recruitment process that welcomes and supports employment candidates
  • Developed emergency response plans, accommodation plans and various employee resources outlined in our training and reference materials
  • Key partnership with Disabilities Solutions, an organization that supports attracting and hiring candidates with disabilities

New action items 2023-2025:

  • Continue to develop and enhance our partnerships with community organizations supporting candidates with disabilities (2023)
  • Review employee survey results in 2023 and use them to inform decisions around prioritization of accessibility actions (2023)
  • Audit our recruitment and role documentation tools and practices and identify opportunities to enhance them to deliver a better candidate and employee experience for individuals with disabilities (2024)
  • Research and enhance leadership and people and culture team accessibility training as appropriate to support individuals with disabilities (2025)

 

Built Environment – Designing Our Accessible Spaces

 

Key areas of accomplishment to date:

Design plans for banking centres and offices throughout Canada, including new developments or material renovations, that are fully compliant with all local building codes as well as Ontario accessibility requirements. For example, wheelchair-accessible service counters in our banking centres.  

 

New action items 2023-2025:

  • Create a multi-year plan to develop and enhance accessibility support across all our locations, including further build out of review processes for audio-visual equipment and ATMs specifically, as well as new locations generally (2023)      
  • Enhance processes for collecting and handling location-specific accessibility feedback, and notifying clients of any accessibility issues (2024) 
  • Enhance the frequency and depth of reviews which maintain our building accessibility aids and systems, and which ensure incorporation of updated accessibility requirements within our building designs (2024)    
  • Research and enhance corporate services team accessibility training as appropriate to support individuals with disabilities (2025)

 

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) – Leveraging Our Technology

Key areas of accomplishment to date:

  • Implemented software to monitor website accessibility during page development and verify web pages during quality assurance testing
  • Enhanced training for marketing teams involved in website accessibility 
  • An enhanced public website that is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA. 

 

New action items 2023-2025:

  • Formalize governance and enhance ICT-related procedures to support accessibility (2023)
  • Continue website optimization to improve accessibility (2023 – ongoing)   
  • Continue investigation and rollout of enhanced accessibility-focused systems for webpage maintenance and website monitoring (2023)
  • Enhance processes for handling and tracking any accessibility issues identified using new systems, including documentation of solutions and best practices. Also enhance website support materials (2024).   
  • Research and enhance digital and marketing team accessibility training as appropriate to support individuals with disabilities. (2025)

 

Communication Other Than ICT – Enhancing Our Tools

Key areas of accomplishment to date:

  • Employee resources that support interacting with clients with disabilities 
  • Annual training that includes guidance for interacting with all persons having disabilities
  • A robust accessibility feedback process
  • Reference material that assists employees in making electronic documents accessible 

New action items 2023-2025:

  • Create a multi-year plan to further research and adopt accessibility best practices for both web and print content, including support to those with hearing issues (2023)
  • Enhance processes for managing storage of alternative format documents (2024)
  • Research and enhance creative services team accessibility training as appropriate to support individuals with disabilities (2025)

Procurement of Goods, Services and Facilities – Extending Our Reach 

Key areas of accomplishment to date:

  • Procurement and third-party risk assessment process that reviews vendor accessibility compliance for customer-facing services and engagements
  • Specialized accessibility training for our procurement team

New action items 2023-2025:

  • Create a multi-year plan to enhance identification and handling of accessibility considerations within CWB commodities and contracts (2023)
  • Audit our procurement and third-party risk management processes to enhance assessment of accessibility considerations (2024)
  • Research and enhance procurement team accessibility training as appropriate to support individuals with disabilities (2025)

 

Design and Delivery of Programs and Services – Building Our Practices

Key areas of accomplishment to date:

  • Accessibility officer support to the design and delivery of specific programs and services 
  • Annual training that raises awareness of the needs of the disabled to support client delivery of services 

New action items 2023-2025:

  • Develop and maintain accessibility guidance for product development, including coordination with procurement and third-party risk management processes (2024)
  • Research and enhance product development team accessibility training as appropriate to support individuals with disabilities. (2025)

Transportation

 

We do not address transportation, as CWB does not run any transportation services, therefore this priority is not relevant.

Conclusion

 
This accessibility plan is CWB’s continuation of our journey to achieve the Accessible Canada Act goal of a Canada without barriers by 2040.  It sets out how we will continue to identify, remove and prevent barriers for persons with disabilities. We give our utmost gratitude to all who participated and responded to our surveys in giving the feedback which has informed this accessibility plan, and to all the CWB employees across our VIDA Employee Represented Group and many other business areas who have passionately informed and shaped these next goals we have set for advancement of accessibility within CWB.