Understanding the Act
Overview of the Act
The Accessible Canada Act is a federal law that aims to find, remove and prevent barriers facing people with disabilities. The federal government adopted the Act in 2019. The goal of the Act is to create a Canada without barriers by 2040.
Several people and government agencies are working together to carry out the Act and its regulations. They all have different roles and responsibilities. The Accessibility Commissioner is responsible for enforcing (checking if organizations are following) the Act and the Accessible Canada Regulations.
The Act applies to the federal government and to organizations that are regulated by the federal government. This includes government departments and private businesses that work in certain areas like banks, airlines and phone companies. The Act calls these organizations “regulated entities.”
The Act requires these organizations to consult people with disabilities and publish accessibility plans, feedback processes and progress reports. Organizations must notify the Accessibility Commissioner when they publish these documents. The Accessible Canada Regulations give details about these requirements.
The Accessibility Commissioner is developing tools to help organizations meet their obligations. These tools will be available on our website.
The Government of Canada is also developing guidance and templates for organizations.
- Accessibility plans
These plans explain how organizations are finding, removing and preventing barriers. Organizations must consult people with disabilities when preparing their accessibility plans. They must also consider the principles in the Act.
- Feedback processes
These processes explain how organizations receive and respond to feedback about:
- How they are following their accessibility plans
- Barriers that employees and other people face when dealing with the organizations.
- Progress reports
These reports explain:
- How organizations are following their accessibility plans
- Feedback organizations received and how they dealt with it.
- Organizations must consult people with disabilities when preparing their progress reports.
What are disabilities
The Accessible Canada Act defines disabilities as impairments or functional limitations that, when combined with barriers, prevent people from fully and equally participating in society. There are many types of disabilities, including:
- physical / mobility
- intellectual / developmental
- mental health
Most people will have a disability at some point in their lives. People can have more than one disability.
Disabilities can be visible or invisible. You should not assume that someone has a disability or that they do not. Disabilities can be temporary or permanent. They can also be episodic, which means they change over time. People can be born with disabilities or develop disabilities when they get sick or injured.
People experience their disabilities in different ways. Everyone with a disability is unique. The disability community is diverse.
There are different approaches to disability:
- The medical model of disability focuses on labelling and fixing people’s symptoms.
- The social model focuses on removing barriers in society that exclude people with disabilities.
- The human rights model focuses on protecting and promoting people’s human rights. Accessibility is one of these rights.
What are barriers
Barriers are things that prevent people with disabilities from fully and equally participating in society. There are many types of barriers. For example, barriers can be in:
- physical spaces
- policies, programs and services
The Accessible Canada Act focuses on barriers in certain areas.
Accessibility is good for everyone
Many barriers that affect people with disabilities also affect other people. Everyone benefits when things are more accessible. For example:
- Ramps help people who use wheelchairs. They also help people pushing baby strollers or luggage.
- Simple and clear language helps people with intellectual disabilities. It also helps people who are learning new languages or subjects.
- Captions on television help Deaf people. They also help people watching television in loud places like airports.
The Accessible Canada Act will benefit everyone in Canada by removing and preventing barriers.
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