CAN-ASC-3.1: Plain Language - Notice of intent

This notice is to announce that Accessibility Standards Canada intends to develop a new accessibility standard. The purpose of this notice is to avoid duplication in standards development.
This notice is aimed at other standards development organizations and the public. It does the following:

  • It defines the scope of the standard that we propose.
  • It defines the need for the project.
  • It states the time period during which the public can send us comments about the standard.
American Sign Language (ASL) version of this page

Standards development organization

Accessibility Standards Canada

Contact information


Mailing address:

320, St-Joseph Boulevard
Suite 246
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3



Work program

The work program lists all of Accessibility Standards Canada’s in-progress and completed standards. It is available online at: Work program – Accessibility Standards Canada.

Designation number


Standard type

National Standard of Canada – Domestic

Standard development activity

New standard

ICS codes

  • 03.040 Labour. Employment
  • 03.060 Finances. Banking. Monetary systems. Insurance
  • 03.080 Services 
  • 03.200 Leisure. Tourism 
  • 03.220 Transport
  • 11.180 Aids for disabled and handicapped persons 
  • 33.030 Telecommunications services. Applications
  • 33.170 Television and radio broadcasting 

Comment period start date

December 13, 2022

Comment period end date

January 10, 2023


The purpose of CAN-ASC-3.1 is to ensure the technical requirements for the plain language standard are equity-based. This requires going beyond minimum technical specifications.

There are common areas where persons with disabilities may face barriers related to plain language. For example:

  • Lack of information and awareness by communicators. This includes knowing about accommodations related to plain language.
  • Language grade level. This is determined by different factors such as content (word choice), formatting, and sentence length. 

The standard on plain language will apply to federally regulated organizations in the private and public sectors. It will encourage organizations to:

  • use the active voice and avoid the passive voice
  • use strong, active verbs
  • write directly to the reader
  • use short, simple sentences and point form, where possible
  • use examples to clarify complicated subject matter

Project need

Accessibility Standards Canada was created under the Accessible Canada Act. Its mandate is to prevent, identify, and remove barriers to accessibility in Canada for people with disabilities. To do this, it develops standards.  These are based on the needs of people with disabilities. These needs are identified by consulting with Canadians with disabilities. This includes the members of the Accessibility Standards Canada Board of Directors. Most Board members are people with disabilities. The Board has approved the development of this standard. 

Accessibility Standards Canada standards are developed following the principle of “nothing without us.” This means that people with disabilities are involved in the development process:

  • Its standards are developed using research that is led by people with disabilities or with lived experience.
  • People with disabilities are members of the organization’s technical committees. These committees produce equity-based requirements for standards. These take into account the needs and perspectives of people with disabilities. 
  • The public review process for this standard will be accessible. This will allow even more people with disabilities to be part of the development process.

Posted on

This notice of intent was posted on the Accessibility Standards Canada website on November 24, 2021.

Date Updated

February 3, 2023