Standards development

Accessibility Standards Canada will develop and revise accessibility standards. They will set out how these bodies can prevent, identify and remove barriers to accessibility:

  • federal private sector organizations; and
  • Government of Canada departments and agencies

The organization's Board of Directors:

  • sets its strategic direction
  • oversees its activities; and
  • provides advice to its Chief Executive Officer, a Governor in Council appointee

The majority of the directors are persons with disabilities and reflect the diversity of Canadian society. Director positions are part-time and the Governor in Council appoints them.

Technical committees will:

Stakeholders and the public will have opportunities to comment on the standards.

Accessibility standards will be published and submitted to the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities. The Minister will consider making them mandatory by adopting them into regulations. Standards can be legally enforced only if they become regulations.

Supporting research 

The organization will promote, support and conduct research into:

  • the identification and removal of barriers to accessibility; and
  • the prevention of new barriers

The organization will submit an annual report on its operations to the Minister for tabling in Parliament.

The standards developed will also serve as model standards that other jurisdictions can adopt.

Our grants and contributions program: Advancing Accessibility Standards Research

The program supports research projects that try to find, take away and stop obstacles to accessibility.

This research will help to create accessibility standards in the future.

Sharing information related to accessibility

Accessibility Standards Canada is also responsible to share information related to accessibility.

The Accessible Canada Act

The Accessible Canada Act (An Act to Ensure a Barrier Free Canada) creates a framework. It allows for the proactive identification, removal, and prevention of barriers wherever Canadians interact with areas under federal jurisdiction. It puts in place mechanisms that would systematically address accessibility.

Definition of a standard

A standard guides activities of organizations in a way that is consistent across sectors. It means people can expect the same level of service or quality of products.

To whom the standards will apply

Standards are voluntary measures. They will apply to organizations under federal rule:

  • parliamentary bodies, including:
  • the Senate
  • the House of Commons
  • the Library of Parliament
  • the office of the Senate Ethics Officer
  • the office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner
  • the Parliamentary Protective Service; and
  • the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer
  • federal courts and tribunals
  • the Government of Canada, including government departments, agencies and Crown corporations
  • the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Taking into account certain job needs (for example, being physically able to do the job); and
  • private sector bodies under federal rule, including organizations in:
  • the federal transportation network
  • the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors; and
  • the banking sector


Priority areas for creating standards

Section 5 of the Accessible Canada Act sets out the following 7 priority areas:

  1. employment
  2. built environment
  3. information and communication technologies
  4. communication, other than information and communication technologies
  5. service delivery
  6. transportation; and
  7. procurement


Standards we will create first

Our Board of Directors voted to start with the following 4 standards:

  1. outdoor spaces
  2. plain language
  3. emergency exits; and
  4. employment


Process to create accessibility standards

To create new standards or to revise standards we already have, we will:

  1. set up technical committees that will write the accessibility standards. They will involve:
    • persons with disabilities
    • other experts; and
    • representatives of sectors or organizations that would have to meet the standards
  2. post the standards online so that members of the public can comment
  3. revise the standards if needed
  4. post the final standards online
  5. recommend the final standards to the Minister


Readiness of the first standards

We will soon set up 2 technical committees. Each committee will create a set of standards. It will take about 18 to 24 months to create a standard.

Definition of “under federal rule”

An organization under federal rule is any organization governed by the Canada Labour Code (Code). These bodies need to obey the rules set out in the Code. Federal law governs these rules. The rules apply to the Government of Canada and some industries.

Examples of organizations not under federal rule

Organizations not under federal rule include schools, hospitals, shopping centres, restaurants and even sporting facilities. These bodies are subject to different provincial and territorial laws. For example, in Ontario, these types of bodies would come under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act. These organizations may still choose to adopt the standards we develop.

The standards will cover federal rule only

The Constitution sets out the division of powers between the Parliament of Canada, and the provinces and territories. The Accessible Canada Act applies to bodies and matters for which Parliament can create laws. The standards we create could be models outside the federal government. This means that the provinces and territories can adopt them. Provinces and territories will have a chance to take part in the process of creating standards. We will work with all interested parties to balance accessibility needs. This will help to create standards that can apply across Canada.

If organizations under federal rule do not obey

Standards are voluntary. They cannot be enforced. We will recommend standards to the Minister to be adopted as regulations. Standards can be enforced only if they become regulations.