From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) and the Accessible Canada Regulations (regulations) require that federally regulated entities prepare and publish accessibility plans, progress reports on the implementation of their plans, and descriptions of their feedback processes. The regulations establish the foundational requirements that such entities must meet to fulfill their planning and reporting obligations under the ACA.

These guidance modules are not legally binding. They aim to help federally regulated entities who are subject to the regulations fulfill those planning and reporting requirements. The references to sources, tips and best practices included here are intended to help entities to go farther in eliminating barriers to accessibility. These guidance modules will help your organization plan how best to approach the preparation and publication of your accessibility plans, progress reports, and descriptions of feedback processes.

Throughout these modules, actions and document contents that are mandated by the ACA and the regulations are described using the words "must" and "required." Recommended actions and document contents that are presented to ensure that entities' planning and reporting documents and practices are meaningful and concrete are described using the words "recommended," "should," "suggested," and "could." They are also described as "tips" and "best practices."

This first set of guidance modules is focused on accessibility plans. Additional guidance modules, including those on progress reports and descriptions of feedback processes, will be published in early 2022.

Depending on the services your organization provides, you may fall under the jurisdiction of more than one regulator or enforcement authority under the ACA. In that case, you will need to consult guidance provided by other regulators in addition to these modules. For example, in addition to notifying the Accessibility Commissioner, you will need to notify each applicable regulator when you publish your accessibility plans, progress reports on the implementation of your plans, and descriptions of your feedback processes. The required contents of these documents may also differ based on the applicable regulator.

Read the regulations for more about how to determine the applicable regulatory and enforcement authorities for your organization, and about how compliance will be evaluated by regulators.

Read sections 42 through 59 of the ACA to learn more about reporting requirements for entities under the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Read sections 60 through 68 of the ACA to learn more about reporting requirements for entities under the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).

In line with the principle of "Nothing without us," the guidance material reflects insights and input from the disability community.

"Nothing without us" and basic principles

The foundational principle of "Nothing without us" recognizes that persons with disabilities are equal participants in all areas of life. As such, they should be involved in all decision-making on policies, programs, practices, and service delivery.

This principle should inform the way in which your organization approaches its responsibilities under the ACA and its regulations. It should guide the way you identify, remove, and prevent barriers, develop your accessibility plans, receive and respond to feedback, and measure your progress.

While there are specific deadlines for the publication of the reporting documents required under the ACA, your organization's work to improve accessibility should have already begun. As subsection 5.2 of the ACA says:

"Nothing in this Act, including its purpose of the realization of a Canada without barriers, should be construed as requiring or authorizing any delay in the removal of barriers or the implementation of measures to prevent new barriers as soon as is reasonably possible."

Accessibility plans are an important part of this process.

Section 6 of the ACA sets out the following principles that your organization must consider in all of its decision-making, including the development of its accessibility plan:

  1. all persons must be treated with dignity regardless of their disabilities
  2. all persons must have the same opportunity to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have regardless of their disabilities
  3. all persons must have barrier-free access to full and equal participation in society, regardless of their disabilities
  4. all persons must have meaningful options and be free to make their own choices, with support if they desire, regardless of their disabilities
  5. laws, policies, programs, services and structures must take into account the disabilities of persons, the different ways that persons interact with their environments and the multiple and intersecting forms of marginalization and discrimination faced by persons
  6. persons with disabilities must be involved in the development and design of laws, policies, programs, services and structures
  7. the development and revision of accessibility standards and the making of regulations must be done with the objective of achieving the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities

Read the introductory sections of the ACA for more on these principles in context.

With these principles in mind, the following guidance modules will help you ensure that your accessibility plans:

  • incorporate best practices while meeting the requirements of the ACA and its regulations
  • include useful information about your organization's efforts and activities to identify remove, and prevent barriers in consultation with persons with disabilities
  • reflect and support your commitment to improving accessibility within your organization

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