Advancing Accessibility Standards Research Program: Call for proposals - Invitation to apply for funding

Guideline for writing the application

Overview

The first step in this funding call is now complete. Accessibility Standards Canada has reviewed all expressions of interest that were submitted. We are now inviting select organizations to submit a detailed application for research funding. This is the final step in this funding call.

Some of the questions in this application may be similar to those asked in the expression of interest. This is your opportunity to provide us with in-depth details about your proposed research project.

It is important that you take the time to review the program requirements outlined below and tell us how you will meet them. This could mean that you need to refine some of the details or activities that you proposed in the expression of interest.

Being invited to submit an application does not guarantee funding. We will use the information submitted in the application to assess your proposal and base our funding decisions. 

Project timeline

Your research project should start no earlier than April 2024 and must be completed by March 31, 2027.

If your project is funded, you must provide a research report in both English and French and in accessible format, and an executive summary of the research report in plain language and in both English and French. These documents must be made publicly available online and submitted to Accessibility Standards Canada on or before your project end date. Please keep that in mind when planning your project timeline.

Submission deadline

We must receive your application and other requested documents by no later than 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on January 12, 2024. If it is received after the deadline, it will not be considered.

Do you need accommodations to complete your application? If so, email us at recherche.nac-research.asc@canada.gc.ca no later than December 8, 2023.

Purpose of this program

The purpose of this program is to fund research projects that inform the development of next-generation accessibility standards. These are model standards that fall within federal areas of responsibility. Your research project must align with this purpose and help identify, remove, and prevent barriers to accessibility.

Projects under this program must involve people with disabilities, members of the disability community, and other experts and organizations in the disability or other fields.

Projects must be inclusive so that all people can participate in your project, regardless of their needs.


Examples of federal areas of responsibility:

  • Government of Canada programs, services, and activities
  • federal buildings and national parks
  • certain private sector organizations in areas such as:
    • banking
    • broadcasting and telecommunications
    • road transportation services that cross provincial or international borders
  • any other sector where the federal government has an interest in advancing accessibility

Program objectives

Your research project must contribute to the program’s objectives: 

  1. Work with different people and organizations across Canada to move accessibility standards research forward to help create a national network of accessibility expertise.
  2. Involve persons with disabilities, other experts, and organizations to inform the research.
  3. Identify and share research, information, best practices, and tools about accessibility barriers and standards.

Eligible organizations

This call for detailed proposals is open to selected Canadian organizations that are legal entities in Canada. To be eligible, your organization must fit into 1 or more of the following categories: 

  • research or educational institution (such as a university)
  • not-for-profit organization 
  • Indigenous organization, including a band or tribal council or other self-governing entity
  • municipal (local) organization
  • provincial and territorial organization (excluding provincial or territorial governments)

Is your organization located in Québec? If your research project is accepted, you must get approval from the government of Québec to accept our funding. See the Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil Exécutif. It will be your responsibility to contact the appropriate authorities to receive this approval.


Priority research areas

Your project must focus on 1 or more of the following priority research areas. These are explained in the Glossary of Terms.

  • accessibility within northern communities, including cultural and climate considerations
  • the built environment
  • communication, other than information and communication technologies
  • design and delivery of programs and services
  • effective engagement of people with disabilities in the standards development process
  • employment
  • equitable communication for the deaf and deaf-blind community
  • information and communication technologies
  • intersectionality and intersectional barriers
  • procurement of goods, services, and facilities
  • transportation

The priority research areas should match the ones you have identified in your expression of interest. If you are modifying or expanding your priority research areas, you need to explain the reason in your application.

Partnership requirements

To be eligible, you must engage in partnerships to help you deliver your research. You should aim to find partners in various sectors and disciplines. These partnerships must foster the creation of a national network of accessibility expertise. They must also encourage the participation of people with disabilities in your research.

The minimum number of partnerships required depends on the amount of funding you are requesting:

  • if you are asking for $100,000 or less per fiscal year, you must partner with at least 1 other organization.
  • if you are asking for more than $100,000 per fiscal year, you must partner with at least 2 other organizations. One of these must be a national disability organization.
    • If your organization is an Indigenous or a national disability organization (see definitions below), one of your partners does not have to be a national disability organization.

National organization: An organization with a national mandate that conducts activities in 4 or more provinces or territories. It may work in partnership with other organizations or have offices in different provinces or territories.
Disability organization: An organization that prioritizes disability advocacy, research, and products.
Indigenous organization: This includes bands, tribal councils, and other self-governing entities.


Eligible research activities

The following are examples of possible research activities:

  • assessing current knowledge and identifying gaps in priority research areas to support the next generation of standards development
  • performing research that will inform standards development in priority areas
  • reviewing, assessing, and synthesizing the current body of evidence on accessibility standards in 1 or more priority areas
  • identifying gaps in the evidence and sources of best practices. This should support the development of the next generation of accessibility standards
  • looking at current accessibility standards in Canada. This includes looking at how people or organizations use them and what these standards have achieved
  • furthering research that will increase knowledge and generate data within federal areas of responsibility
  • understanding the lived experiences of people with disabilities
  • understanding what accessibility means in the priority research areas
  • furthering research on the experiences, understandings, and perspectives that people with disabilities have about accessibility in the priority areas
  • conducting other research activities that support the objectives of the funding program
  • developing recommendations or best practices

Your project must also include activities that:

  • foster collaboration across sectors and/or disciplines
  • support the creation of a national network of accessibility expertise
  • encourage the participation of people with disabilities in the research agenda
  • enable the sharing of the research results with diverse stakeholders in a way that is understandable and useful. This is to ensure that standards development is informed by evidence-based research.

Ineligible activities

  • the main activities of your organization
  • The improvement of tools or methodologies that are specific to your organization
  • local infrastructure or renovation projects
  • the development of standards
    • In the context of this program, a standard is a regulation developed and put in place by a certified standard development body. That is why research projects can aim to support and inform accessibility standards but cannot be aimed at developing them.
  • the development of tools that use the research results. This includes maps, apps, technology, audit guides, and training guides and activities.

Project budget

As part of your application documents, you must complete a Budget detail template form. Your budget mut be detailed. For each fiscal year of the project, you must show:

  • how much funding you are asking for each cost category
  • what activities those funds will cover
  • how you calculated the amount requested.

Eligible expenses

The following is a list of eligible expense categories. Use these to help complete the project budget. Note that all costs must be directly related to project activities.

  • Operating costs. This includes costs for administrative services and functions provided by your organization to support project activities. For example, this may include mailing and shipping, telephone service, information technology (IT) support, or help provided by a central or administrative office. Operating costs cannot exceed 15% of the funding requested.
  • Professional fees and services. This includes fees for consultants, partners, researchers, third-party IT support, technical expertise, facilitation, performance evaluation and reporting, and auditing.
    • Projects that receive more than $300,000 in total funding must submit audited financial statements at the end of the project. This audit must be done by a third party. Auditing-related costs are an eligible expense and must be included in this section of the budget.
  • Salaries, benefits, honoraria, and wages for employees, research assistants, and casual workers.
    • Salary replacement allowances. This is the cost to replace an employee temporarily so they can work on your project. The maximum amount is 50% of the replaced employee’s salary for each year of the project.
  • Staff training and professional development costs.
  • Participant costs (for example, accessibility accommodation costs to engage people with disabilities in research activities and participant honoraria).
  • Costs of materials, equipment, and supplies.
  • Printing and communication costs.
    • A research report and executive summary must be submitted for all projects. Both must be submitted in French and English and in accessible format.  The executive summary must also be written in plain language. Related costs, including for translation and plain language editing must be included in this section of the budget.
  • Travel costs (spending on international travel requires prior approval).

Ineligible expenses

Costs that do not directly contribute to project deliverables are not eligible expenses. Examples of such costs are listed below.

  • Costs related to:
    • supporting the core operations of your organization
    • improving your organization’s activities, tools, processes, or guidelines
  • Pay and benefits for employees not contributing to project deliverables
  • Professional fees such as union dues, annual memberships, and certification fees
  • Money spent on alcoholic beverages or cannabis
  • Costs for land and/or buildings
  • Salaries of those holding an academic position at a post-secondary institution. These individuals are also not eligible for a salary replacement allowance.

Cash and in-kind contributions

You must identify any contributions made to the project and show their value in your Budget detail template. Contributions are cash or in-kind support you receive outside of Accessibility Standards Canada’s funding that are essential to the project’s success. Contributions can be made, for example, by:

  • your own organization,
  • other organizations,
  • your project partners, or
  • individuals.

Other funding sources are also considered contributions.

Any contributions made by sources other than your organization must be accompanied by a letter confirming the contribution.

Cash contributions must go toward the cost of your project and its related activities. They must be directly related to achieving your project goals. 

In-kind contributions are considered real contributions to the cost of the proposed project, but are not reimbursable. In-kind contributions can be, for example, the time and salary of an expert, services rendered, or goods provided for the project. Salaries from individuals holding an academic position at a post-secondary institution working on the project have to be counted as an in-kind contribution. 

Limits of government assistance

If your application is approved, the total amount that you receive from us and other government entities at any level (federal, provincial, territorial, or municipal) cannot exceed 100% of the total eligible project-related costs.

How to apply

1.    Download and complete the Application form and Budget detail template in the format of your choice

Application form:

Budget detail template:

2.    Obtain partnership letters

Each partner should provide a letter explaining their role and responsibilities in the project. The letter should also indicate the value of any cash contributions they are making to the project, or the value of their in-kind contribution.

3.    Obtain letters confirming cash and in-kind contributions from other sources

Each other source that contributes cash or in-kind to your project must submit a letter confirming the value of the contribution.

4.    Submit all required documents by email

Required documents:

  • Completed Application form
  • Completed Budget detail template
  • Partnership letters
  • Letter(s) confirming cash and in-kind contributions received from other sources, if applicable

Send all the completed required documents in an email to recherche.nac-research.asc@canada.gc.ca. The email must be dated no later than 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on January 12, 2024.

You will receive an automatic confirmation by email that your application documents have been submitted. Please check your spam folder if you have not received the confirmation within 24 hours of submitting your application documents.

Evaluation process

Accessibility Standards Canada will review and evaluate all Application forms, Budget detail templates and relevant documents. This evaluation will assess:

  • the degree to which the proposed activities support the program’s purpose, objectives and priorities
  • the need for the proposed activities
  • the qualifications and track record of the applicant 
  • the demonstration of the support/funding required for success
  • the value for money

We will notify all organizations of the outcome of this evaluation by March 2024. The program aims to finalize the process and have funding agreements signed for approved projects to start in April 2024.  

Questions?

Send your questions by email to recherche.nac-research.asc@canada.gc.ca.

Funding decisions

Accessibility Standards Canada determines the eligibility of each applicant, each project, and all project-related expenses.

All decisions regarding eligibility and approval for funding are final.

What to expect if you receive funding

Here is some information to keep in mind if your application is approved and your project receives funding. There is information on how you could receive your funding, what you will be expected to do throughout the project, and a few other important requirements. Not all requirements are listed here; more information will be provided to successful applicants once we sign a funding agreement.

How funding is provided

If your project is approved, Accessibility Standards Canada will assess the Application form and Budget template and decide whether the project will be funded through a grant or a contribution funding agreement.

A funding agreement is the contract between the project recipient and Accessibility Standards Canada. It outlines the terms and conditions you agree to by receiving a grant or contribution funding. It also outlines the purpose of your project and includes specific reporting and evaluation requirements, depending on the funding type. The agreement is signed by the project recipient and Accessibility Standards Canada.

Reporting requirements

If your project is approved for funding, you will have to follow specific reporting requirements throughout your project. Those requirements include performance reporting and financial reporting. All reporting requirements and conditions will be detailed in the funding agreement.

Performance reporting

Performance reporting is the reporting made on the progress and the results of the project. It is used to assess the performance of funded recipients and their project. All funding recipients will need to submit:

  • regular activity reports. These are reports on the project activities and their progress against the project’s expected results. Funded recipients will also have to attest of their continued capacity and eligibility to the program in those reports to keep receiving funding. The templates will be provided by Accessibility Standards Canada.
  • a final activity report on the results achieved. A template will be provided by Accessibility Standards Canada.
  • a research report outlining the project’s findings. This report must be:
    • published in an accessible format
    • published in both official languages
    • submitted at the latest on the end date of your project
    • publicly available for free on the website of the funding recipient
  • an executive summary of the research report for Accessibility Standards Canada. This summary must be:
    • in an accessible format 
    • in both official languages
    • in plain language
    • submitted at the latest on the end date of your project
    • publicly available for free on the website of the funding recipient

Financial reporting

All funding recipients must list all contributions received from other sources that contributed to eligible costs at the end of the project.

All funding recipients who receive funding through a contribution will have to submit financial reports. These reports will detail how the money is spent throughout the project. These reports are mandatory to receive the funding. The templates for the financial reporting will be provided by Accessibility Standards Canada.

A funding recipient that receives more than $300,000 in total funding from Accessibility Standards Canada for their project must submit an audited financial report at the end of the project. This must be done by an independent licensed public accountant.  The cost of this audit is an eligible expense.

Official languages requirements

We are committed to promoting the use of English and French in Canada. We also support measures that enhance the vitality of official language minority communities. If you receive funding, you agree to comply with our official languages requirements. These are set out in your application and in the funding agreement.

Funding recipients must agree to:

  • make announcements to the public about the project in both official languages
  • provide their project-related services and documents in both official languages
  • encourage members of both official language communities to participate in the project
  • when appropriate, provide services in a way that meets the specific needs of both official language communities

Intellectual property

Funding recipients will own any intellectual property that they or a third party create related to their project. In some cases, this intellectual property may be helpful to Canadians. For this purpose, Accessibility Standards Canada has shared use over the property, provided that doing so would not be damaging to the recipient.

Shared use could mean further use of the data for research purposes. It may also mean publishing the intellectual property on a Government of Canada website or in printed documents. 

Acknowledgement of financial assistance

Funded recipients must publicly acknowledge that they have received funding from Accessibility Standards Canada. This must be done in English and French. This must appear in all project-related communications, materials, and promotional activities. Other related requirements may be included in your funding agreement. You can find guidance on how, where and when to acknowledge the funding received here.

Glossary of terms

Terms used on this webpage

Accessibility
Accessibility means barrier-free access. This is access that gives every person an equal opportunity to participate in society—regardless of disability.

Accessibility standard
A standard guides activities of organizations in a way that is consistent across sectors. It means that people can expect the same level of service or the same quality of products. Accessibility standards are intended to remove barriers. They ensure that people with disabilities can fully and equitably participate in society.

Barrier
A barrier is anything that makes it harder for someone with a disability or functional limitation to fully and equitably participate in society. Barriers come in many forms. They may be physical, architectural, technological, or attitudinal. They may relate to information or communication. They may also be a result of a policy or practice. 

Disability
The Accessible Canada Act defines disability as “any impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication, or sensory impairment—or a functional limitation—whether permanent, temporary, or episodic in nature, or evident or not, that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society.”

National disability organization
These are organizations that help people with disabilities participate in society. Under this program, they must have a national mandate and conduct activities in 4 or more provinces or territories. They may work in partnership with other organizations or have offices in different provinces or territories.

Partnership
Partnerships are collaborative arrangements between an organization that received funding and an individual or another organization. They can include both financial and in-kind contributions. Partners cannot be a member of the applicant’s organization. Partnerships can include collaborations with any of the following:

  • other research organizations with complementary mandates
  • organizations that specialize in certain aspects of research (for example, data collection, survey facilitation, development of specialized software, financial matters)

Research priorities

Accessibility within northern communities, including cultural and climate considerations
This priority is about ensuring inclusive and barrier-free access for people with disabilities living in northern communities in Canada. This may include identifying barriers related to cultural and climate factors.

Built environment
A built environment is a physical area built by people for human activity. This includes buildings and urban spaces where people live, work, play, or visit.

This research priority refers to the need to make this environment accessible. For example, an accessible design is one that removes barriers to accessibility for individuals who:

  • Use mobility devices. For example, designs that include elevators, ramps, and automatic doors and that ensure adequate space.
  • Have sensory or cognitive needs. For example, designs that remove barriers by:
    • using lighting, sounds, or textures
    • limiting or removing scents or causes of sensory overload
    • providing visual, auditory, or tactile cues.
  • Require wayfinding assistance. For example:
    • visual signage and cues such as symbols, large print, and contrast
    • audible or tactile signage and cues, such as Braille and textures.

Communication, other than information and communication technologies
Communication is a two-way process. It happens when people give and receive information in face-to-face interactions. It also includes:

  • reading and understanding written information (such as on websites and social media)
  • completing and signing forms and documents

This research priority refers to ensuring that people with disabilities have access to communication tools that enable the giving and receiving of information. It does not include the development of the tools themselves. For example, providing access to:

  • options for different ways of communicating (such as in person, on the phone, in writing, online, or via video)
  • alternative types of documentation (such as accessible websites, print, Braille, plain language texts), and processes such as an electronic signature option
  • sign language interpretation (American Sign Language, Langue des signes québécoise, Indigenous Sign Language)

Design and delivery of programs and services
This relates to the need for organizations to consider accessibility when planning, creating, implementing, and delivering programs and services. An important aspect of this is involving persons with disabilities in the design and delivery process.

Effective engagement of people with disabilities in the standards development process
This research priority is to ensure the standards development process involves people with disabilities.

Employment
Employment is when someone receives money in exchange for work for an employer. This research priority refers to accessibility in the context of employment. For example:

  • having accessibility features in the workplace (such as offering flexible schedules and providing access to accessible technology)
  • eliminating barriers related to attitudes in the workplace (due to, for example, discrimination, lack of knowledge, or lack of awareness training)
  • making recruitment, retention, and promotion more accessible by, for example:
    • including accessibility features in the hiring process
    • correcting situations where few or no persons with disabilities have been hired or serve in management roles
  • providing accessible employment for youth with disabilities transitioning from school to work

Equitable communication for the deaf and deaf-blind community
This research priority is to ensure that members of the deaf and deaf-blind community have access to communication tools that enable the giving and receiving of information. It does not include the development of the tools themselves.

Information and communication technologies
This refers to any communication device that enables people to access, store, transmit, understand, or use information. These technologies include:

  • radio, television, cell phones, satellite systems
  • computer and network hardware
  • services such as video conferencing and distance learning
  • analogue technology, such as paper communication
  • any form of technology that transmits information

This research priority refers to projects that address technology-related barriers that affect the accessibility of a technology that facilitates communication. It does not include projects aimed at developing such technologies.

This research priority relates to the need for organizations to consider accessibility and barriers when buying goods, services, or facilities that will be used by people with disabilities.

Intersectionality and intersectional barriers
Intersectionality means the interconnected nature of various social and other categories that can apply to an individual or group. This includes sex, gender, age, race, ethnicity, Indigenous identity, economic status, immigrant status, sexual orientation, disability, and geography. Such categories may impact experiences of discrimination or disadvantage.

Procurement of goods, services and facilities
Buying goods, services and facilities by and for the federal government, for the use of the federal government and Canadians.

Transportation
This refers to the action of transporting someone or something from one destination to another, or the process of being transported.

This research priority relates to the accessibility of transportation policies and programs. It also refers to providing access to, and the accessibility of, transportation modes that are federally regulated.

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