Section 2. Accessibility plans: key concepts
- Section 1. Introduction
- Section 2. Accessibility plans
- Section 3. Recommended first steps
- Section 4. Preparing your accessibility plans
- Section 5. Recommendations on evaluating and documenting your accessibility plans
- Section 6. Looking ahead: the reporting cycle and updating your accessibility plan
On this page
Your accessibility plan is a document respecting your organization's policies, programs, practices, and services in relation to the identification and removal of barriers, as well as to the prevention of new barriers from emerging. The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) requires that you prepare and publish this plan. The Accessible Canada Regulations (regulations) say how you must publish it and what it must include.
The identification and removal of barriers, as well as the prevention of new barriers, will help your organization contribute to the goal of an accessible and barrier-free Canada. Ensuring that your organization's environment, operations, programs and products are accessible will benefit everyone, including persons with disabilities.
The ACA defines a barrier as:
"Anything – including anything physical, architectural, technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or communications or anything that is the result of a policy or a practice – that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment or a functional limitation."
The ACA defines a disability as:
"Any impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment – or a functional limitation – whether permanent, temporary or episodic in nature, or evident or not, that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person's full and equal participation in society."
With this in mind, the ACA and any regulations made under the ACA require that your accessibility plan include information respecting:
- how employees, clients, members of the public, and others can contact your organization
- how your organization consulted persons with disabilities in the preparation of your accessibility plan
- your organization's policies, programs, practices and services in relation to the identification and removal of barriers, and the prevention of new barriers, in the areas described in Section 5 of the ACA
We recommend that your plan also:
- reflect your organization's short- and long-term accessibility goals:
- short-term goals might include those already in progress, or to be achieved in the weeks or months after the plan's publication
- long-term goals might include those expected to take a year or more, and/or to still be in progress at the time you publish either your next progress report or your updated accessibility plan
- explain what you are currently doing, what you plan to do, and what you hope to achieve in improving accessibility
- include useful accessibility-related information for clients and employees, such as:
- available resources (programs, activities, funding) to improve accessibility and support persons with disabilities
- locations of accessible entrances, restrooms, and other features
- references and/or links to accessibility-related human resources materials, forms, and communication platforms
- describe your organization's approach to accessibility training
- give a sense of how accessibility fits into your organization's internal "culture," and how you intend to promote it
Above all, we recommend that your accessibility plan include concrete steps your organization is taking to identify, remove, and prevent barriers.
Combined with your progress reports and feedback processes, your accessibility plan should demonstrate your commitment to accessibility and your accountability to clients, employees, data users, persons with disabilities at large, and any other persons who deal with your organization. It is also an opportunity to make meaningful changes to how your organization works.
What the ACA and its regulations require
The ACA requires that federally regulated entities prepare, publish, and regularly update accessibility plans. The ACA also requires that such entities prepare and publish progress reports on the implementation of their accessibility plans. Read more about this reporting cycle's steps and deadlines.
The ACA and its regulations require that such entities include information in their plans in relation to the identification and removal of barriers, and the prevention of new barriers, in the areas described in Section 5 of the ACA:
- the built environment
- information and communication technologies (ICT)
- communication, other than ICT
- the procurement of goods, services and facilities
- the design and delivery of programs and services
Additional areas may be designated under future regulations.
The regulations establish more detailed requirements for accessibility plans, including:
- publication deadlines, including for updated plans
- publication requirements, including notifying the Accessibility Commissioner
- clarity of language
- mandatory headings and content, including information related to consulting persons with disabilities
- providing plans in alternate (accessible) formats upon request
- retaining documents
Accessibility plans for different regulatory authorities under the ACA
Some federally regulated entities engage in operations that may fall under additional regulations under the ACA, developed by either the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) or the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA). This means that they may be required to report to both the Accessibility Commissioner (a member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC)) and either CRTC or the CTA. The ACA requires that such entities' accessibility plans address their policies, programs, practices and services in a way that conforms to other regulations or laws that may apply to those entities.
Such entities are not required to prepare 2 separate accessibility plans. The content required for the Accessibility Commissioner and for the other applicable regulator can be included in a single accessibility plan that meets the requirements for both. While such entities would be allowed to prepare 2 separate plans, if they chose to do so, we recommend that they prepare a single plan instead. The benefits of preparing and publishing a single plan include:
- reducing the time and resources they will need to prepare, publish, report on, and update their plans
- improving consistency in how all parts of their organizations identify, remove, and prevent barriers
- making it easier for employees, clients, persons with disabilities at large, and other members of the public to find and read their plans
Read sections 42 through 50 of the ACA to learn more about entities who carry on broadcasting undertakings, and their requirements under the Broadcasting Act.
Read sections 51 through 59 of the ACA to learn more about entities who are Canadian carriers or telecommunications service providers, and their requirements under the Telecommunications Act.
Read sections 60 through 68 of the ACA to learn more about entities who are a part of the federal transportation network, and their requirements under the Canada Transportation Act.
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