Creating accessibility standards
Accessibility Standards Canada creates and reviews standards that apply to:
- the federal government; and
- federally regulated entities.
These standards will identify, eliminate and prevent barriers to accessibility.
Our accessibility standards are voluntary. They may be submitted to the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities to be adopted into regulations. If the Minister chooses to adopt them into regulation, they become mandatory. They then apply to federally regulated organizations and federal government departments and agencies.
During the Accessible Canada Act consultations, the government learned which areas are most important to Canadians for improving accessibility.
Under the Act, Accessibility Standards Canada needs to work with:
- persons with disabilities and other experts;
- industry representatives; and
- other stakeholders impacted by the standards.
The following 7 priorities, as identified in the Accessible Canada Act, guide our work:
- the built environment
- information and communication technologies
- communication (other than information and communication technologies)
- the procurement of goods, services and facilities
- the design and delivery of programs and services
Centre of expertise
Our Centre of Expertise centralizes and facilitate access to our:
- standards, including those being co-developed and under development, and
- research that has received funding through our grants and contributions program.
All standards and research found in our Centre of Expertise support and are organized according to the Accessible Canada Act’s seven priority areas.
Standards under development
We are currently developing twelve (12) standards. The following technical committees have started their work:
- Technical committee on accessible and equitable Artificial Intelligence systems
- Technical committee on employment
- Technical committee on outdoor spaces
- Technical committee on emergency egress (exit)
- Technical committee for a model standard for the built environment - accessibility for federally regulated entities as defined in the Accessible Canada Act
- Technical committee for acoustics
- Technical committee on wayfinding and signage
- Technical committee on plain language
- Technical committee on emergency measures
- Technical committee for the Design and Delivery of Accessible Programs and Services
- Technical committee on accessibility requirements for Information and Communication Technology Products and Services
- Technical committee for accessible travel journey
Upcoming standards (notices of intent)
Notices of intent inform Canadians and standards organizations of what we are working on. This helps reduce the risk of creating redundant standards, and makes our work more transparent.
Experts with disabilities are key to the successful development of accessibility standards. Experts with disabilities as well as other experts would fit into one of the stakeholder categories noted below. A technical committee must have no fewer than 12 and no more than 18 members.
Accessibility Standards Canada is dedicated to creating committees that reflect the diversity of the Canadian population. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds to consider applying to the technical committees.
Stakeholder groups and categories for standards development
Group 1: Lived experience and public interest
There are 2 categories in this group:
Persons with disabilities
Under the Accessible Canada Act, "disability" is defined 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.
Any persons with a disability (as defined in the Act) can represent this category or other related category.
Consumer and public interest
This includes those who represent national, regional, or international consumer bodies. This includes, but is not limited to, those representing persons with disabilities. However, they cannot fall into the “business and industry” category (see group 4). It also includes experts who focus on consumer or public interests.
Someone who is not part of a specific stakeholder category is often considered a member of this category.
Group 2: General interest
There are 2 categories in this group:
Academic and research bodies
This includes those who represent universities and other higher educational bodies. It also includes the professional educators associated with them. Professional associations and research institutions are also part of this category.
This includes those who represent charitable, not-for-profit, or non–profit-distributing organizations. These bodies must have a public interest objective related to social or environmental concerns.
Group 3: Policy-makers
There are 3 categories in this group:
Government bodies and authorities with jurisdiction
This includes those who represent the following:
- international and regional treaty organizations
- federal, provincial, and territorial, or municipal government bodies
- bodies that have a legally recognized regulatory function
Labour and unions
This includes those who represent an international, national, or local trade union. It also includes federations of trade unions. These are bodies that promote or safeguard the collective interests of employees in relation to their employers.
Standards development bodies
These experts represent accredited standards organizations that develop, publish, and maintain standards.
Group 4: Standards users
There are 3 categories in this group:
Federally regulated industries and workplaces
These members may represent an air transportation company, a bank, or a grain elevator. Representatives of a First Nations band council or federal Crown corporation also fall under this category.
Federally regulated public sector bodies, municipalities, and territorial private-sector firms
These are bodies regulated under parts II and IV of the Canada Labour Code.
These individuals represent the federal public service and Parliament. These are bodies regulated under part I of the Canada Labour Code. These are representatives of private-sector firms and municipalities in Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
Representatives of government and other bodies that do not have the authority to create policy related to the standard are considered “standards users.”
Business and industry
These individuals may represent any of the following:
- manufacturers, producers and designers
- service industries
- companies involved in distribution, warehousing, or transport
- business and trade associations
Role of technical committees
- identify where people with disabilities may face barriers related to its area of focus;
- develop a national standard, or a suite of standards, to work towards eliminating these barriers; and
- uphold the Code of Conduct for Technical Committee members.
Compensation for individual members
We are adopting Canadian and international practices to develop accessibility standards. We will recruit experts from various backgrounds. These are volunteer roles as most members will represent organizations. If an individual with a disability is not paid by an organization, we will compensate them for their role as an expert on a technical committee.
If members need to travel, Accessibility Standards Canada covers expenditures, as per the Government of Canada travel directive.
Help create accessibility standards
Want to make an impact on the lives of more than 6 million Canadians living with disabilities? Apply to our technical committees to improve accessibility and help create innovative standards.
Consult our work program to see the list of all the in-progress and completed standards at Accessibility Standards Canada.
This document includes:
- the standards Accessibility Standards Canada is currently preparing;
- the standards that Accessibility Standards Canada has published in the preceding period;
- the classification relevant to the subject matter of the standard using the International Classification for Standards “ICS” code(s);
- the development-stage code and start date, based on the ISO International harmonized stage codes;
- the public review comment period start and end dates; and
- references to any international standards as a basis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will there be opportunities to provide feedback?
Once developed, draft standards will be available on our website for a period of 90 days. During this time, the public may provide their feedback. The technical committee will then consider that feedback moving forward.
When will the standards be publicly available?
Once completed, the standards will be available on our website. This means that everyone will be able to use them for free.
What is Accessibility Standards Canada’s mandate?
Our mandate is to help make Canada a place without barriers to accessibility. Please read our about us page for more information.