Chief Accessibility Officer mandate
The role of Chief Accessibility Officer (CAO) was created by the Government of Canada under the Accessible Canada Act. The Act came into effect in 2019, following a lengthy consultation period.
Stephanie Cadieux, the first to be appointed to the role, began a 4-year term in May 2022. Her office is housed within Employment and Social Development Canada. Her mandate is to act as a special, independent advisor to the Minister.
The CAO will report on progress made under the Act, as well as any challenges or impediments to success, and any emerging issues with regards to accessibility. Thousands of federal departments and federally-regulated industries share responsibility for implementing the Act. The CAO will work to bring cohesion and oversight to their efforts. She will also act as a convener, collaborator, challenger, and champion for accessibility.
The CAO and her office will be the focal point for monitoring and reporting on progress and outcomes achieved under the Act. The office will also report on issues as they emerge or grow in scope.
To do this effectively, the CAO and the Office will collaborate with numerous partners, working to convene experts and stakeholders.
Importantly, the CAO will also work to raise public awareness about the importance of accessibility and to change public perceptions of disability. Attitudinal barriers and unconscious biases remain some of the greatest obstacles standing in the way of an accessible future. For this reason, the CAO will frequently speak publicly and candidly about the importance of accessibility throughout society.
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