Communication (other than information and communication technologies)

Here is Accessibility Standards Canada’s current standard, along with our funded grants and contributions research related to communication (other than information and communication technologies). Check here often for new information related to this priority area.

Standards

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CAN-ASC-3.1 Plain Language

CAN-ASC-3.1 Plain Language

Areas of focus

Effective communication requires plain language. The plain language standard has 9 categories of requirements.  

  • Audience focus: Writing content to meet the needs of diverse audiences.
  • Content organization: Ensuring that content is relevant, easy to find and well organized.
  • Content clarity: Communicating in a language that is clear and simple and making complex ideas more accessible. 
  • Inclusivity and accessibility: Making content more accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Engagement and feedback: Seeking ongoing audience participation to improve content.
  • Language and tone: Providing guidelines on appropriate words, sentence structures and tones.
  • Visual and structural elements: Recommending the use of images, clear punctuation and effective document design.
  • Digital accessibility: Providing guidelines for creating accessible digital content and ensuring compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
  • Evaluation and revision: Ensuring regular assessment and updates to content.

This standard is in development

Join the public review of the draft standard

Standard started on October 1, 2020.

Public review started April 9, 2024, and will continue until July 8, 2024. 

Publication expected in spring 2026.

Technical committee members

Catherine Rodgers (Chairperson), Director of Communications, People First of Canada

Melissa Kargiannakis (Vice Chairperson), Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Skritswap

Carol Wilson, Health Education Consultant, Carol A Wilson BSN RN

Catherine Buckie, Independent Plain Language Consultant, iwritewell.ca

Cynthia Jolly, Communications Manager, Canadian Transportation Agency

David Berman, Chief Accessibility Officer, David Berman Communications

Eyra Abraham, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Lisnen

Hilda Smith, Workshop Designer & Clear Language Consultant

Iva Cheung, Post-doctoral fellow, University of British Columbia

Julie Ruel, Researcher, University Institute for Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Karen McCall, Accessible Document Design Consultant and Trainer, Karlen Communications

Laura Edlund, Freelance Writer and Editor, Laura Edlund – Writing * Editing * Research

Lorne Mackenzie, Senior Regulatory Affairs Manager, WestJet (inactive)

Nancy Foreman, Plain Language Specialist, Shared Services Canada

Rachel Mills, Senior Policy Analyst, Inclusion Canada

Stacey Kowbel, Researcher, Vecova

Youssef Megharfi, French Translator, Treasury Board Secretariat

Grants and Contributions Research

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Communication Access within the Accessible Canada Act

Communication Access within the Accessible Canada Act

This research project is completed.

Who is leading the research?

Inclusive Design Research Centre - Ontario College of Art and Design University

What is the goal of this study?

People with various communication disabilities face barriers when accessing federal services. This study will gather information on these barriers. It will also gather information on accommodation requirements. The goal will be to use this data to inform future standard development.

Why does this study matter?

Federal services need to be accessible to people with communication disabilities.

What are the key findings?

  • We do not always know when someone has a communication disability. Therefore, all communication should use plain and accessible terms.  
  • Training, service delivery, and program design need to be flexible. This will help address the needs of those who use augmentative and alternative ways to communicate. (These are methods that supplement or replace speech or writing.) 
  • Automated services and phone services need to allow for the use of augmentative and alternative communication methods. For example, a live phone operator is a more inclusive form of support because they can adjust their approach based on the needs of the caller.  

Not all individuals have the same levels of literacy or ability to write or speak. Therefore, service and program design must not assume that they do.

If you would like a full copy of the report, please email us.

Accessible Canada, Accessible World: Co-creating a Global Standards Community

Accessible Canada, Accessible World: Co-creating a Global Standards Community

This research project is still underway.

Who is leading this research?

Inclusive Design Research Centre - Ontario College of Art and Design University

What is the goal of this study?

This project will build resources for research informed by the experience of people with disabilities. These resources will be created through in-person and online events. 

Why does this study matter?

Including the lived experience and expertise of people with disabilities allows for a more inclusive approach to accessibility. Increased accessibility can be achieved when the people who face barriers are included in the research and standards development process.

What are the key findings?

Key findings will be shared once the research is completed.

Brain Injury and Accessibility of the Electoral Process in Canada

Brain Injury and Accessibility of the Electoral Process in Canada

This research project is still underway.

Who is leading this research?

Brain Injury Canada

What is the goal of this study?

People with brain injuries experience barriers to participating in election-related activities. This study will identify ways to remove and prevent these barriers.

Why does this study matter?

Every Canadian has the right to vote and be involved in the electoral process.

What are the key findings?

Key findings will be shared once the research is completed.

Ensuring access and understanding of public information for people with disabilities

Ensuring access and understanding of public information for people with disabilities

This research project is still underway.

Who is leading this research?

Université du Québec à Rimouski

What is the goal of this study?

People with disabilities face barriers to accessing and understanding online information. This study will focus on the barriers that hinder access to legal and communication services online. It will assess best practices and recommend ways to develop the next generation of model accessibility standards as they relate to communication and technology.

Why does this study matter?

Governments have a responsibility to communicate with all Canadians. They must also ensure equitable access to information.

What are the key findings?

Key findings will be shared once the research is completed.

Accessibility Futurisms: Analyzing Access through a Disability Justice Modality

Accessibility Futurisms: Analyzing Access through a Disability Justice Modality

This research project is still underway.

Who is leading this research?

The Youth Project Society of Nova Scotia

What is the goal of this study?

A disability justice framework centres the experiences of excluded groups. This study will explore the intersecting experiences of young 2SLGBTQIA+ people with disabilities. It will study the increased barriers they may face in their communities. The study will include recommendations to increase accessibility. These will focus on buildings, outdoor spaces, programs and services, communication, and transportation.

Why does this study matter?

Everyone deserves equal access and support within their community.

What are the key findings?

Key findings will be shared once the research is completed.

Accessibility Standards for Deaf and Deafblind Canadians

Accessibility Standards for Deaf and Deafblind Canadians

This research project is still underway.

Who is leading this research?

Canadian Association of the Deaf

What is the goal of this study?

This study will focus on the barriers faced by people who are deaf or deafblind. The goal is to determine where changes can be made to existing standards. The purpose of these changes will be to improve access and remove barriers for people who are deaf and deafblind.

Why does this study matter?

The deafblind community faces unique challenges. This study will improve our understanding of these challenges. This is needed to support the development of standards that support the accessibility needs of people who are deaf or deafblind.

What are the key findings?

Key findings will be shared once the research is completed.

Exploring the Place of Interpretive Support in Information and Communications Accessibility

Exploring the Place of Interpretive Support in Information and Communications Accessibility

This research project is still underway.

Who is leading the research?

Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society

What is the goal of this study?

This study will gather information on different approaches and tools that can facilitate communication for people with disabilities. This includes people with intellectual, cognitive, and communication disabilities.

Why does this study matter?

Research on such tools and approaches is needed so they can be integrated into communication standards.

What are the key findings?

Key findings will be shared once the research is completed.

An Exploratory Study of Video-Accessible Communications Practices

An Exploratory Study of Video-Accessible Communications Practices

This research project is still underway.

Who is leading the research?

Réseau québécois pour l’inclusion des personnes sourdes et malentendantes

What is the goal of this study?

This study will review existing information on sign language models. The goal is to develop best practices for accessible communications for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Why does this study matter?

Communication standards need to consider the requirements of individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.

What are the key findings?

Key findings will be shared once the research is completed.

Advancing Accessible Communication for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Advancing Accessible Communication for People with Intellectual Disabilities

This research project is still underway.

Who is leading the research?

Inclusion Canada

What is the goal of this study?

People with intellectual disabilities face communication barriers. This study will gather information to support the removal and prevention of these barriers. This data will be used to inform future standard development.

Why does this study matter?

Communication standards need to consider the accessibility requirements of people with all types of disabilities. This includes intellectual disabilities.

What are the key findings?

Key findings will be shared once the research is completed.

Advancing Accessibility Standards through Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit

Advancing Accessibility Standards through Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit

This research project is still underway.

Who is leading the research?

Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtiit Society

What is the goal of this study?

This study will gather information on how accessibility standards are used in Nunavut. It will identify barriers faced by people with disabilities from an Indigenous perspective.

Why does this study matter?

A better understanding of Indigenous perspectives on disability and accessibility is needed. This will make future standards more relevant to Indigenous communities.

What are the key findings?

Key findings will be shared once the research is completed.

Newly completed projects

Visualizing Accessibility Standards: A Demonstration with CSA B651

Visualizing Accessibility Standards: A Demonstration with CSA B651

This research project is completed.

Who is leading the research?

Dalhousie University

What is the goal of this study?

Visual reference materials and tools can be helpful for presenting technical documentation. This study will look at different methods of visual communication and how such methods can make it easier to apply accessibility standards.

Why does this study matter?

Using visual aids to present technical information can improve information sharing. It can also increase understanding for all stakeholders.

What are the key findings?

  • Those responsible for applying the technical aspects of a standard need to understand the standard’s design specifications, including their purpose and function. 
  • Adding visual aids and a written explanation to a standard can make this easier. For example, three-dimensional (3D) models can show spaces from different angles and perspectives. This can help explain why a standard is important and which barriers it addresses.
  • Visual aids can also explain the concept of “mind-friendly” environments. These are spaces that are designed to support neurodivergent people. Factors such as strong smells, the way that sound echoes, or how busy or quiet a space is can affect this aspect of an environment.

“Visual aids help the reader understand, especially since not everyone feels prepared to interpret and apply accessibility standards accurately.”

If you would like a full copy of the report, 

please email us.

New projects

Investigating the Development of Accessibility Standards in Canada and the Inclusion/Exclusion of Episodic Disabilities

Investigating the Development of Accessibility Standards in Canada and the Inclusion/Exclusion of Episodic Disabilities

This research project is still underway.

Who is leading this research?

Realize

What is the goal of this study?

Some disabilities come and go. These are known as episodic disabilities. This study will look at how accessibility standards can address the barriers faced by people with episodic disabilities.

Why does this study matter?

Most people think of disabilities as visible, permanent, and unchanging. Episodic disabilities challenge that belief.

There is a need for more focused action to address a broader range of conditions. Increasing our understanding of the types of episodic disabilities will help spur such action.

What are the key findings?

Key findings will be shared once the research is completed.