Section 3. Recommended first steps

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

On this page


Preparing your first accessibility plan will take time, planning, and dedicated resources. It may also involve thinking about new things or asking unfamiliar questions. This section gives an overview of things that we recommend doing before you begin writing your first plan. This includes:

  • identifying who is responsible for preparing the accessibility plan and/or receiving and responding to feedback on barriers, as required by the Accessible Canada Regulations (regulations)
  • conducting research and evaluating your organization's accessibility to help identify barriers
  • consulting persons with disabilities in the preparation of your plan, as required by the Accessible Canada Act (ACA)
  • creating a work plan based on the deadlines set in the ACA and its regulations

Read more on how to begin writing your accessibility plan.

Note: These modules focus on preparing your organization's first accessibility plan. The ACA also requires that organizations publish updated versions of their accessibility plans within 36 months from the date on which the last version of the plan was required to be published. Read more on these timelines and the steps involved.

Recommendations on deciding who is responsible for the plan

We recommend that your first step be deciding who in your organization will be responsible for preparing your accessibility plan.

The person(s) you choose should know your organization well and work effectively with others. They should have decision-making authority, or represent executives or managers who do. We recommend putting together a team to work on your plan.

One way to uphold the principle of "Nothing without us" is to include employees with disabilities on this team. They bring lived and living experience to the process, and they may be most affected by the plan.

We also recommend that team members represent different aspects or parts of your organization, such as human resources or different program areas. They should have the necessary knowledge and capacity to help identify, remove, and prevent barriers related to your policies, programs, practices and services. The team could also include members with expertise in the different areas described in Section 5 of the ACA.

You may also consider creating a budget, timeline and roadmap for completing the plan, and sharing these documents with your management. This will help you stay on track and meet your deadlines. Having a budget also demonstrates to employees that the plan is a priority for your organization, and that they should support the people working on it.

Recommendations on identifying barriers

An effective next step would be reviewing the accessibility of your organization's policies, programs, practices, and services. As per the ACA, you must identify existing barriers to remove, and ways to prevent new barriers from emerging in the future. While doing so, remember that the removal of a particular barrier can sometimes lead to new, unintended barriers emerging.

For example, to make your place of business more accessible to persons in wheelchairs, you might have to choose between renovating an existing entrance and creating a new entrance. If so, consider that in some cases creating a separate wheelchair-accessible entrance may contribute to attitudinal barriers and stigma against persons with disabilities. Renovating an existing main entrance to be equally accessible to all would not.

Multiple perspectives can make this process more efficient and meaningful. As such, we recommend that you reach out to employees, clients, and the public for ideas about how to improve accessibility within your organization. You can ask them about barriers in the areas described in Section 5 of the ACA, which describes the ACA’s purpose, and can use what they tell you as a starting point in preparing the headings about those areas in your plan.

Disability organizations can bring one such perspective on different types of disabilities and barriers. They can also put you in contact with persons with disabilities in your community whom you can consult about your accessibility plan, as required by the ACA. You can also invite these organizations to provide input on your accessibility plan themselves.

You may also be able to use services provided by disability organizations to help evaluate the accessibility of your organization's service delivery, communications, and both physical and digital environments.

Recommendations on consulting persons with disabilities

The ACA and its regulations require that you consult persons with disabilities in the preparation of your accessibility plans and progress reports. Remember to uphold the principle of "Nothing without us". Ensure your consultations are designed to be accessible and inclusive by default.

Remember that inclusivity and accessibility should take geographical and cultural considerations into account. Participants from rural or remote locations may not have consistent access to transportation or to the Internet.

Above all, when possible, involve persons with disabilities in planning your consultations.

Since organizations have different resources, needs, and capabilities, there are different ways to conduct consultations. Your organization must decide who, when, and how to consult. Your accessibility plans and progress reports must then describe how you consulted persons with disabilities.

Read the Guide to Planning Inclusive Meetings for recommendations on conducting accessible meetings and engagements with persons with disabilities. Read the section of this guidance on required headings to learn about what should appear under the "Consultations" heading in your accessibility plan.

Detailed guidance on consulting persons with disabilities within the context of the ACA and its regulations will be published early in 2022.

Page details

Date modified: