Alternate Media: PSAC Policy 36

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is committed to ensuring that all our members are well informed of their rights, benefits and duties as union members. In addition, the Alliance, in promoting employment equity with its own staff, seeks to ensure that all employees of PSAC have all the tools to do their work with proficiency.

In order to ensure full access to union information, members and staff with sensory, learning and other disabilities may require "alternate formats" (braille, large print, cassettes, captioned or signed videos) in place of conventional print and video.

Making Alliance information available in alternate formats not only complies with the intent of the Alliance Human Rights Policy, but it is in line with the Canadian Human Rights Act. This provision of material in an accessible format is essential to the active participation of union members and staff with disabilities.

In order to implement this policy, the Alliance will undertake the following activities:

1. Members and staff will be invited to self-identify their special needs in terms of alternate formats to the Alliance; such invitation will include the development and distribution of an alternate format needs questionnaire. This invitation will be extended to members through Locals, Components and Regional Offices, and by means of the distribution of the questionnaire in the Alliance magazine, all PSAC event registration packages and the membership orientation package.

2. The PSAC will develop a mailing list from information gathered through the questionnaire with input from MDACs and Locals which will identify the members' choice of alternate format.

3. Printed materials produced by the Alliance, which are intended to reach all union members, will be provided to those who have self-identified in the alternate media they have specified. This will include the Alliance magazine.

4. Printed materials produced by the Alliance, which are intended for a specific audience, will be made available, upon request, in the requested alternate format. This will include documents for educational courses, collective bargaining teams, Regional Women's Committees and so on.

5. Wherever possible, all printed documents produced by the Alliance will be produced in large print (using 14 point type or larger). This will cut down on costs associated with producing separate large print documents and will make Alliance materials easier to read for all members.

6. For each video produced by the Alliance, an open-captioned version must also be produced and made readily available. The captioning will follow the official language (English/French) being used in the audio portion.

7. Where the Alliance is producing print material or videos in cooperation with another organization or is purchasing this material from an external source, all attempts will be made to ensure the materials are available in alternate formats.


Formats for persons with visual disabilities.

Audio Cassettes: A publication recorded on tape.

Braille: A reading system using raised dots so that a publication can be read through touch. There are three "grades" or levels of braille. Documents are usually produced in Grade 2 braille. Braille was first developed in French.

Descriptive Narration: In video and film, the spoken word is used to fully explain action scenes, charts and other visual components.

Computer Files (Diskettes or Modems): When a publication is put on computer file, the user can gain access to information through a computer connected to a braille printer, voice synthesizer, large print monitor or any other system enabling access.

Large Print: A publication using 14 point type or larger.

Formats for persons with hearing disabilities.

Captioned videos and films: The spoken word appears in written text on the bottom of the screen as in subtitles. "Open" captions can be seen by everyone while "closed" captions are visible only through a special decoder.

Signed Videos and Films: The spoken word is transferred to sign language on screen.


In-house production is possible in the following cases:

  • AUDIO CASSETTES: Audio cassettes produced internally may be practical especially for short documents, such as Union Update. High quality tape recording and duplicating equipment are required.
  • BRAILLE: A one-sided braille printer was purchased by the Alliance through ACCESS '93 funding.
  • COMPUTER FILES: These are easily copied internally onto diskettes or transferred by modem for distribution.
  • LARGE PRINT: New documents are to be produced in large print by using 14 point text or larger from an in-house computer on 8 1/2 X 11 paper, wherever possible. Large print from older documents is to be produced using technology such as scanners which convert the characters to computer data that can then be used to produce sharp and clear text in 14 point or larger from the computer.
September 21, 1994