Interview on Accreditation with Philip Rizcallah, Chief Executive Officer of Accessibility Standards Canada
Established in 2019, Accessibility Standards Canada is a young federal organization born out of the Accessible Canada Act that is committed to making Canada more accessible and inclusive for all. Created to develop and review accessibility standards for federal and Government of Canada bodies, the organization was recently accredited. This identifies them as a credible standards development organization. To learn more about this major milestone, we spoke with Philip Rizcallah, CEO of Accessibility Standards Canada. Here are his thoughts on what this means to the organization and for Canadians with disabilities.
Now that Accessibility Standards Canada is accredited, what does it mean for the organization?
Philip Rizcallah: Accreditation is a major milestone for our organization. It places us among a select group of recognized standards development organizations in the country and the world. In fact, we are the only accredited standards organization with a primary mandate for equity driven accessibility standards that are developed under the accreditation banner. Being accredited gives us more credibility and recognition among provinces and territories, federal entities and with the community of people living with disabilities.
What did Accessibility Standards Canada have to accomplish to get an accreditation?
Philip Rizcallah: There were several steps and processes involved in becoming accredited; from creating and adhering to systematic protocols and procedures in operating technical committees, implementing in-house quality assurance practices, training our staff involved in the standards development, and much more. It truly was a full team effort and I am always blown away by what we are able to achieve.
What advantages does accreditation bring to Accessibility Standards Canada?
Philip Rizcallah: Accreditation brings credibility to the standards we produce. Users can be confident that the standards we produce adhere to very high standards of development, committee consensus and public input and consultation. It is essential for us to involve people with disabilities in our work. This is because nobody knows accessibility issues and their resolutions better than someone with lived experience does.
Why is accreditation important for an accessibility standards development organization?
Philip Rizcallah: Accreditation is important for us as it provides that added level of confidence and credibility in the eyes of end users. It also provides a high degree of recognition among our national and international standards organizations counterparts. We want our work to be recognized around the world, and this brings us closer to that goal.
Your hope is that the standards you create will become regulation. How will accreditation help achieve this goal?
Philip Rizcallah: While it is not critical for standards to be developed under an accredited process in order to become regulation, it does provide legislators and stakeholder groups more confidence when introducing them into legislation. This is because the development of the standard was required to follow a rigorous process set out by the Standards Council of Canada.
What is next for Accessibility Standards Canada?
Philip Rizcallah: Accessibility Standards Canada, with guidance from its board of directors, will identify more standards for development. We will continue to create national and possibly international standards. We could collaborate with other accredited organizations and co-develop national and or international world-class standards. We are excited for what is to come.