The Accessible Canada Act is a federal law that aims to find, remove and prevent barriers facing people with disabilities. A barrier is anything that prevents people with disabilities from fully and equally participating in society. The goal of the Act is to create a Canada without barriers. The Act applies to the federal government and organizations regulated by the federal government.
The Act focuses on barriers in seven priority areas:
Some of these areas overlap. The government may also make accessibility regulations in other areas.
This covers all parts and phases of employment, including:
- job interviews and tests
- professional development
- performance evaluations
It covers people applying for jobs, full-time and part-time employees, casual employees and some contractors.
Here are examples of barriers in employment:
- Job postings that are not accessible for people who use assistive technologies like screen readers.
- Assuming that someone cannot do certain kinds of work just because of their disability.
Built environment (physical spaces)
The built environment covers indoor and outdoor spaces that people use, including:
- parking lots
- recreational spaces
Here are examples of barriers in the built environment:
- Buildings that are not wheelchair accessible because they do not have ramps or elevators.
- Fire alarms that are not accessible to Deaf people because they do not include visual warnings like flashing lights.
This area covers the way people give, receive and understand information. People communicate in different ways, including through:
- sign language
- pictures, drawings or symbols
- body language
- technologies (example: equipment that transcribes speech)
- communication assistants
Deaf people often use sign language interpreters to communicate with people who use speech. The Act recognizes American Sign Language (ASL), Quebec Sign Language (QSL) and Indigenous sign languages as the primary languages of Deaf people in Canada.
Here are examples of barriers in communication:
- Information written in complex language that is not accessible for people with intellectual or cognitive disabilities.
- Preventing people from using communication assistants or a sign language interpreters.
Information and communication technologies
This area covers technologies that organizations use to communicate, broadcasting and telecommunications.
Technologies used to communicate
This includes technologies that organizations use to communicate with employees and the public. For example:
- text messages
- computer programs
- virtual (online) meetings
Here are examples of barriers in technology:
- Websites and electronic documents that are not accessible for people who use assistive technologies like screen readers.
- Videos and virtual meetings that are not accessible for Deaf people and people with hearing loss because they do not include captions.
This includes radio and television. Here are examples of barriers in broadcasting:
- Television programs that do not have captions or sign language interpreters for Deaf people.
- Television programs that do not have video description for blind people.
This includes phone and internet services. Here are examples of barriers in telecommunications:
- Phones that are not accessible for blind people or people with mobility disabilities.
- Phone meetings that do not allow Deaf people to use video relay services (VRS).
Procurement (buying and renting goods, services and facilities)
This area covers goods, services and facilities that organizations buy or rent. It includes choosing things like:
- physical spaces (examples: buildings, offices and venues for events)
- products for employees (examples: office supplies, furniture and computer programs)
- services (examples: technical support, catering and translation)
Organizations should include accessibility criteria in their procurement policies. Here are examples of barriers in procurement:
- Buying or renting a building that is not wheelchair accessible.
- Buying or renting computer programs that is not accessible for people who use assistive technologies like screen readers.
Programs and services
This area covers the way organizations design and deliver programs and services for employees and the public. Whenever possible, people with disabilities should be able to access programs and services in the same way as other people.
Here are examples of barriers in programs and services:
- Documents that are not available in alternate formats like large print or braille.
- Not having a policy on assisting people with disabilities who need help for things like filling out forms.
This area covers transportation between provinces or outside of Canada by:
- transport truck
It also covers vehicles used by organizations that are regulated by the federal government (examples: Canada Post, the RCMP and television stations).
Here are examples of barriers in transportation:
- Planes, trains and buses that travel between provinces and that are not wheelchair accessible.
- Airports that do not have braille signs or other tools to help blind people find their way around.
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