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Citizens With Disabilities – Ontario (CWDO) is committed to the rights of all persons to participate fully in the civil, cultural, economic, political and social life of their communities.

Operating Protocols

A general spirit of acceptance and tolerance will permeate these operational protocols. Therefore:

Members will abide by CWD-O’s Code of Ethics

Members will read, understand and accept CWD-O’s Mission Statement

Consideration will be given to the accommodation needs of members (e.g. pausing to allow members to hear text-readers in conferences; cheerfully re-sending lost or forgotten items)

If and when there is a difference of opinion, it will be raised in the most positive and constructive way possible


Members inform Secretary and/or the Chair(s) of planned absences from board meetings

Members inform Committee Chairs of planned absences from Committee meetings

Members inform sub-Committee Chairs of planned absences from sub-Committee meetings

Members who have missed more than three meetings without notification may be asked to resign by the board

Members who have been away for more than three consecutive meetings with notification abstain from voting the first meeting back (can be waived at discretion of the chair(s)


CWD-O strives to be an organization that is as accessible as possible to people with a wide range of disabilities. As such, we will always put accessibility at the forefront in our communications and will not promote inaccessible channels for conducting our business

Agenda Items – Full Board and Executive

 The Secretary prepares and distributes an agenda for each Executive and full board meeting no later than the Sunday prior.

Agenda items are included (or not) at the discretion of the Chair(s), who must consider timing and priorities for each meeting.

Any board member can suggest agenda items for board and EXC meetings

The Chair of the meeting determines whether other Committee Chairs or guests attend a meeting in consultation with board or Committee members

Board members who wish to propose agenda items must send them to the Secretary in advance, including:

  • The title of the item as it should appear on the agenda;
  • A brief explanation of the item if it is not self-explanatory;
  • Any attachment that needs to go with the item; and
  • An indication of which meeting it is for.

Committee position papers, terms of reference, etc. are approved first by the Executive, then by the board as a whole

Financial items may be approved by the Executive alone, if there is a short time-line, but generally, all expenditures would be approved by the board as a whole, except for items totaling $100 or less in a month which the Treasurer can spend in accordance with board approval

Correspondence is signed by Committee Chairs except for correspondence addressed to political figures which is signed by the Chair(s) and sent under their signature(s)

Emergency correspondence will be disseminated to the board and Executive via electronic mail. If time allows, there will be a 24 hour mandate to reach consensus. All correspondence of an emergency nature will be disseminated to the Board with Co-Chairs providing reason and full disclosure.

Speaking engagements, attendance at conferences and other public events is approved by the Executive and the board as a whole (if time permits) to be considered a CWD-O representative

Members who attend such events with CWD-O approval are attending as a representative of CWD-O, and will state this if and when making public statements

Such representatives will conduct themselves professionally and in accordance with the letter and spirit of the CWD-O Code of Ethics, remembering at all times they represent our organization 24/7 when attending an event

Members who attend such events without CWD-O approval will be deemed to be attending as an individual (not as a CWD-O representative) and will so indicate if making any public statements and at other times as warranted


Members will do their best to keep their commitments, including attending meetings, researching or preparing documents and providing reports

If a member cannot keep a commitment, he or she will alert the Chair as soon as possible, so that alternate arrangements can be made


Committees perform work under the direction of the Committee chair

Committee Chairs submit their work to the Executive through the Secretary, and upon approval by the Executive, the Secretary distributes it to the board as a whole

After the 2008 annual general meeting, 1/3 of the Directors shall serve for a one year term, 1/3 shall serve for a two year term and 1/3 shall serve for a three year term. To determine the term of a Director there will be a random selection in order to establish a rotation cycle.

After the 2009 annual general meeting, as each term expires, 1/3 of the Directors will be elected for a three year term.

Committee Chairs may invite CWD-O members to participate on committees and may include others (including non-members) as resource persons

At the board’s direction, the committee may submit its work to the Executive and/or some other committee (e.g., Finance) prior to it coming to the board

Committee reports, position papers and other written documents must have board approval prior to sharing outside of CWD-O, including the website

Committee Chairs are also responsible for:

Developing a critical path of activities to address the committee’s terms of reference

Scheduling committee meetings in consultation with committee members and considering the work that needs to be done and any time frames

Reserving conference space on IDEAL for Committee meetings or for delegating the task to another member

Chairing committee meetings;

Preparing verbal and written reports for the full board and/or Executive committees, in accordance with their terms of reference

Providing a copy of any written report to the Secretary for CWD-O records, distribution to the full board and Executive

Determining what, of their approved work , will be forwarded to the authorized website committee, for posting on CWD-O’s website

Conflicts of Interest

Can be personal, business or other

Members must declare conflicts of interest and abstain from voting on the matter

Chair(s) can request member in conflict to be absent for debate of issue or matter in which a potential conflict exists

Confidentiality of Business

Items discussed at board meetings are confidential

Minutes are not shared publicly, but are kept in a minute book by the Secretary for legal/audit purposes

Executive and other Committee minutes are not shared with the board as a whole, however, verbal and/or written reports are provided, at board, Executive, and other Committee meetings as needed.


Correspondence addressed to individuals and organizations outside of CWD-O is prepared by the Committee Chair, formatted on CWD-O letterhead, then forwarded to the Secretary for logging, and then to the Executive for approval.

Correspondence to political figures must be signed by the Chair(s)

The Secretary notes all correspondence in a log and reports on it at Board meetings

Electronic Voting Protocols

Motion will have an “Owner” – The Owner of the issue will be the person who raised it at the board meeting. This ensures someone with a commitment to the issue is involved in the work needed to tally the votes and report to the board.

Formed as a motion – The Owner will form an action/issue statement to be part of the minutes of the next board meeting, using the following format: “I, [insert name] move that [insert details]” This ensures the item is formatted consistently with other motions discussed at board meetings.

Written clearly – The statement will be formed as clearly as possible and will be formed so that a response of “Aye” indicates adopting the motion as written, (including caveats and conditions to be accepted). This ensures the item is as easy as possible to understand, and that related conditions or limits are included with the item as the vote is being considered.

Give a time line for responding – The Owner will set a clear time line for replying to the motion. If a date is given, the time line will extend to midnight of the date. Otherwise, a specific time may be given. Times will be assumed to be in the Ontario time zone. Board members will be given a minimum of 3 and a maximum of seven calendar days to respond. Shorter time lines may be provided when the matter is time sensitive. Ensures there is a clear “window” for voting; provides for a reasonable response time for volunteer board members who may not access email on a daily basis; provides for flexibility if the Owner plans to take action following the vote, and there is an optimum time to act or a deadline to meet (e.g., responding to a consultation by a set deadline; having time to make transportation arrangements to attend a meeting on behalf of CWD-O.
Include attachments, if needed – An attachment may be included to provide context or background, but not to form part of the motion itself. Attachments may only be in WORD format or a link to an .html document. Clarifies that the motion is only the item in the body of the email; ensures attachments will be accessible to members using screen readers.

Openly disseminated – The Owner will send an email to all board members or to members of the relevant committee(s), as the case may be, with all members on the TO: line of the email (not c.c. or b.c.c.). This ensures all board members (or committee members) are sent the electronic vote at the same time and that all recipients are aware of the others who received the item.

Open vote – Replies will be sent as a REPLY TO ALL. Ensures all who received the item to vote on are aware of other members’ votes.

Format for voting – The REPLY TO ALL should clearly state “Aye” or “Nay” or the equivalent (e.g., I support, I agree). To avoid confusion or manipulation of results.

No conditions allowed on “Aye” votes – Conditional replies will not be accepted. They will have to count as a “Nay” vote. This ensures that rules of order are followed. The motion would have to be defeated, and then a new motion with the new condition inserted would have to go forward. The Owner may change at this point.
Abstentions – The Chair will mark “Abstained” by the name of any board member who indicates “I abstain” on the reply. The Chair will also mark “Abstained” by the name of any board member who did not reply to the vote with an “Aye” or a “Nay” by the time line indicated. This ensures a process to record abstentions (e.g., where a board member may have a conflict of interest with the motion); encourages all members to vote or be automatically counted as an abstention and discounted for quorum purposes.

Quorum – Quorum will be determined by at least half of the members who voted. Abstentions are discounted for quorum purposes. For example, if 7/16 members respond (5 Ayes and 2 Nays) the vote would carry. This ensures that inactive board members do not block the work of the board.

Documentation – The Secretary will tally the votes in the template provided (See Record of Electronic Voting). The name, date and vote for each member will be recorded in the template. This ensures there is a record of important decisions taken between board meetings.

Report Results – The Secretary will send the complete results to the Chair(s) and/or relevant Committee Chairs. This ensures a record is shared.

Report the vote in the minutes – The result of the vote will be included in the minutes of the next regular board meeting. If the vote related to Committee business, then the results will be recorded in the minutes with the Committee report. This ensures confirmation and documentation of the results of the vote.

Challenges – The complete results can be shared with all board members if there is a challenge to the result of the vote. If a vote was not recorded, the voter will re-send the ORIGINAL vote to all members. This may impact the results. The Chair may request a new vote, if necessary. This ensures accountability and a process for dealing with electronic or human error.

Modifying the motion – Once the votes are in, and if the motion is defeated, any board member, including the original Owner, may propose a different version of the motion, including new conditions. At the discretion of the Chair, the motion may be voted on “live” at the board meeting or referred by the Chair to another electronic vote. This clarifies a process for going forward for defeated motions.


Members will not incur expenses on behalf of CWD-O without approval from the board as a whole and/or the Executive Committee

When expenses are incurred, due diligence will be paid to being as frugal as possible, and whether no-cost alternatives are a viable option (e.g., billeting with friends/family rather than hotel accommodation)


Any staff hired reports to the Chair(s) of CWD-O

A Personnel Committee may be struck if/when needed to address staffing issues in a more private manner, determining overall performance goals and appropriate remuneration


All members of the Executive and Committee Chairs will have access to CWD-O letterhead
CWD-O letterhead is only to be used for final, official CWD-O documents such as: correspondence, minutes, position papers

Draft documents will not use letterhead

The Chair(s), on behalf of the Executive, reserves the right to revoke CWD-O letterhead use by any Committee Chair if protocols are violated


Members will act within the guidelines of the Code of Ethics and Protocols.

Members will share the same mission statements as CWD-O

The Board may establish membership classifications. Examples are single, family, association.

Any member can resign by providing a written resignation to the Secretary.

A member may be temporarily suspended or required to resign by a majority vote of the Board of Directors. The reasons include but are not limited to a violation of the Code of Ethics or conviction of municipal, provincial or federal charges demonstrating irresponsibility or negligence regarding the rights of people with disabilities.

A suspended or required to resign member has a right to appeal. The member may regain status after a majority vote of the Board of Directors or an appointed Disciplinary Committee and upon approval of 3/4 of the members voting at any annual or special meeting.

Once fees are established the Board may consider allowing exemptions.

Fees are non-transferable.

Fees are non-refundable

Fees will be based on the calendar year.


The Secretary records and distributes minutes for all Executive and full board meetings no later than 10 days following any meeting

Members in attendance will review minutes promptly and report any errors or omissions noted to the Secretary

Minutes are the property of CWD-O and will not be distributed by any member, in whole or in part, except as authorized by the Executive or Board

Proxy Voting

Proxy voting is a privilege not to be abused by chronic non-attendance at meetings.

In order for a proxy vote to be recognized, the member will send either by mail or electronic communications a concise yes or not to a clearly outlined issue.

The member will send a written notice to no fewer than three Executive members.

First the Chair(s) and secretary will be notified and they in turn will acknowledge receipt.

Should the member not receive acknowledgement 24 hours prior to the meeting, they will send the same information to the two Vice-chairs and Treasurer who must acknowledge receipt. If one of three or two of three acknowledge in the first round, then the member will only seek the balance of the three acknowledgements.


Board members may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in conducting business on behalf of CWD-O, when approval for the expense is provided in advance.

Approval for reimbursement may be made after the fact, at the discretion of the board

Due to financial realities, it may not always be possible to reimburse members for expenses, even if they are reasonable

When incurring expenses on behalf of CWD-O, board members must exercise extreme diligence and thrift, and retain receipts for audit purposes.


Members may resign at any time

Resigning members are responsible for forwarding pertinent documents, materials and assets to the Co-Chairs or another member designated by the board to receive same

Rules of Order

Robert’s Rules of Order are generally followed. That means that:

Agendas are circulated in advance (at least 5 days ahead)

Members have the opportunity to approve or change the agenda at a meeting

Significant items require a mover and a seconder prior to the Chair(s) allowing discussion

One person speaks to an item at a time

In virtual meeting rooms, only one person, either verbally or text in the public message box, transmits at one time

No one speaks to an item a second time unless everyone has had a chance to speak

Discussion can be closed off at any time at the discretion of the Chair(s)

Items are carried if approved by the majority of members in attendance who are voting (i.e. abstentions do not count either way)

The Chair(s) may not vote, except to break a tie

The Chair(s) may not unduly sway the outcome of the vote, but functions to facilitate fair discussion and clarify decisions


In conferencing situations that allows for “private” conversations, such conversations will be used sparingly and for constructive purposes (e.g., explaining protocols to a new member)

Signing Authority

Two Executive members will sign for all CWD-O expenditures, except where authorized by the Executive or board as a whole by resolution.


Each member in good standing at a meeting shall have the right to one vote.

Voting by way of proxy is permitted by the method outlined under Proxy Voting

A simple majority of 50 plus one of the eligible votes will determine the outcome. The exception is where the consent of a greater number of members is required by the Act or Bylaws.

The Chair of the meeting shall not vote except to break a tie.

Voting conducted via email may be done for time-sensitive items, using CWD-O’s electronic voting protocol. The usual practice will be to discuss business and make decisions at CWD-O board and committee meetings

Website Posting Protocols

The Technology Resource Committee (TEC) is responsible for the CWD-O web page design and content;

TEC approves all changes to the web page;

TEC’s first obligation is to the standard of accessibility approved by the full board of CWD-O and without the approval of the full board permit any content that is not known to be accessible to persons with disabilities seeking information from the web page;

Each chairperson of CWD-O committees, both standing and ad hoc, have an obligation to make sure that their segment of the web page is informative, provides direction, presents current issues, seeks input from members at large and provides for a contact respecting the issues addressed by their committee

TEC is responsible to bring matters to the CWD-O Executive when a resolution cannot be found through the TEC members