06/03/2015 12:14 EDT | Updated 06/03/2016 05:59 EDT

Panel makes recommendations to improve accessibility in Nova Scotia

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government will focus on changing public attitudes as it works towards introducing new accessibility legislation, the province's community services minister said Wednesday.

Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard spoke during the release of a report and recommendations from a panel examining accessibility in Nova Scotia..

The report will help form the new legislation, expected to be introduced next fall.

Bernard said promoting inclusion through public education will be a priority for the province over the next year and a half.

"It will help Nova Scotians understand the breadth of the legislation coming forward and really help inform some of the old attitudes," Bernard said Wednesday at a news conference at Province House.

"We are in this together and we need to break down the barriers and promote inclusion and acceptance together."

Some of the report's recommendations include making public transportation and all buildings in the province accessible and having equal employment opportunities in workplaces.

Another recommendation is ensuring that all Nova Scotians have access to public information in accessible formats.

Marcie Schwery-Stanley, who sat on the panel as a community member, called the report "historic" and said it was the culmination of her nearly 40 years of advocacy work for persons with disabilities.

"I believe this is a positive step that will make a difference in the lives of me and other persons with disabilities," Schwery-Stanley told the news conference.

Bernard said she will now create a team to draft the new legislation, which will be phased in over time.

The panel consisted of 22 people from community and government organizations. The public also provided feedback through 11 consultation sessions held across the province last year.