Summary of guidance on accessibility plans
On this page
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Requirements: what must be in your accessibility plan
- 2a. Required heading: “General”
- 2b. Required headings: areas described under Section 5 of the ACA
- 2c. Required heading: “Consultations”
- 3. Requirements: accessibility plan publication
- 4. Recommendations
- 5. Updating your accessibility plan
ASL interpretation video
The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) and the Accessible Canada Regulations (regulations) create rules to make Canada barrier-free by 2040. As defined in the ACA, a barrier is anything that prevents persons with disabilities from fully participating in society.
One of the rules is that organizations under federal responsibility must prepare and publish accessibility plans.
This guidance helps your organization prepare and publish accessibility plans. It explains what you need to know to follow the law and the regulations. It also suggests some ideas to help you put together the best plan possible.
This is a summary of the guidance. Read the complete version here. Neither the summary nor the complete guidance are legal documents . They are only meant to help you follow the law.
We use the words “must” and “required” to describe things you have to do to follow the law. We use words like “recommended,” “should,” “suggested,” and “could” for things that we recommend you do but are not necessary.
What an accessibility plan is
Your accessibility plan is a document that explains how you plan to identify and remove barriers within your organization. It should also show how you plan to prevent barriers in the future. For an example of what an accessibility plan could look like, read this optional template.
2. Requirements: what must be in your accessibility plan
According to Section 5(1) of the regulations, your accessibility plans must include the following headings:
- headings for each of the areas described under Section 5 of the ACA
Other than those headings, what you include in your plan is up to your organization. However, the Recommendations section below offers things we suggest you include in your plan.
Your accessibility plan must be written in simple, clear, and concise language. This means that it should be easy to read and useful without being too long or complicated.
2a. Required heading: “General”
Your accessibility plan must include the following information under the “ General” heading:
- the job title of the person responsible for receiving feedback from the public about accessibility barriers and your accessibility plan
- a mailing address, telephone number and email address people can use to:
- offer their feedback
- ask for copies of your accessibility plan or a description of your feedback process
While not required, we recommend that you also include a short overview or summary of your plan under this heading. You can also include basic information about your organization’s activities, employees, clients, values, and vision.
2b. Required headings: areas described under Section 5 of the ACA
Your accessibility plan must include headings for 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
Your plan must include the required headings, even if you do not find any barriers in those areas.
What information you include under these headings is up to your organization. We recommend that you include some or all of the following:
- actions your organization is taking, or has already taken, to remove barriers or prevent barriers in that area
- accessibility achievements or milestones you expect to reach in that area
2c. Required heading: “Consultations”
Your accessibility plan must include a “Consultations” heading where you describe how you consulted persons with disabilities on your plan.
The law says you must consult persons with disabilities when preparing your accessibility plan. However, it does not say how you must consult them or what information you must include under this heading.
We recommend you include some or all of the following under “Consultations”:
- who you consulted:
- names of participants (if they are comfortable including their name)
- how many people you consulted
- the range of disabilities they represented
- what you consulted them on:
- The questions you asked and the responses you got
- how these responses informed your plan
- when you consulted them:
- dates and the length of your consultations
- where consultations fit in the development of your plan
- how you consulted:
- your consultation activities (such as in-person meetings, surveys, or video conferences)
- why you chose those activities
- how you made them accessible
- where you held your consultations:
- communities, cities, or other locations
3. Requirements: accessibility plan publication
The Accessible Canada Regulations create rules for publishing your accessibility plan.
3a. Requirements for publishing your plan
Different organizations have different deadlines for publishing their first accessibility plans:
- federal government departments, agencies, Crown corporations, the Canadian Forces and Parliamentary entities: December 31, 2022
- large businesses with 100 or more employees: June 1, 2023
- small businesses with 10 to 99 employees: June 1, 2024
Some organizations under federal responsibility do not have to follow the rules for preparing and publishing accessibility plans. For more information on those organizations , please see Sections 2 and 3 of the regulations.
The ACA created the Accessibility Commissioner to make sure that organizations follow the rules. Organizations have 48 hours to tell the Accessibility Commissioner after they publish or update their accessibility plans.
What you do with your notification and your published plan will depend on whether or not your organization has a public digital presence, such as a website, social media account, or other digital platform.
If you have a public digital presence, you must:
- publish a digital version of your accessibility plan there
- send the Accessibility Commissioner a link to your new or updated plan
- ensure that version meets AA-level of the most recent version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) available in both English and French (currently 2.0)
- WCAG is a set of rules for designing websites so people with disabilities can use them more easily
- keep digital copies online and available to the public for 7 years after publication
If your organization does not have a public digital presence, you must:
- display paper copies of your accessibility plan in the reception area or entrance of each of your places of business
- send the Accessibility Commissioner the mailing addresses where paper copies of your plan are displayed
- ensure that those paper copies are clearly visible and accessible to the public
- keep electronic or print copies of each plan available to the public for 7 years after publication
3b. Requirements for alternate formats of your plan
If asked, you must provide copies of your accessibility plans in the following alternate formats:
- large print (increased font size and clarity)
- braille (a system of raised dots that people who are blind or who have low vision can read with their fingers)
- audio (a recording of text read out loud)
- electronic (text that an electronic device designed for persons with disabilities can read)
The regulations set different deadlines for different entities to provide copies of their accessibility plans in certain formats:
- for print, large print or electronic format:
- the federal government and larger organizations (100 or more employees) have 15 days
- smaller organizations (10 to 99 employees) have 20 days
- for braille and audio formats:
- all organizations have 45 days
4a. Recommended content
We recommend you include the following information in your accessibility plans.
We recommend that you define accessibility terms, such as how the ACA defines “barriers”. Explain different types of disabilities, and explain any technical or professional terms your organization uses.
Budget and resources
We recommend that you include a breakdown of the money and resources you will use to put your plan into action. This can help demonstrate your commitment to accessibility to employees, clients, and members of the disability community.
We recommend that you describe any accessibility training you plan to offer your staff. We recommend that you involve persons with disabilities in developing and delivering your training programs.
4b. Recommended first steps
Here are some steps we recommend you take when preparing your first accessibility plan:
- decide who is responsible for preparing the accessibility plan and for receiving and responding to feedback on the plan
- research and examine your organization’s ability to identify current and possible future barriers
- review your organization’s policies, programs, practices, and services for barriers and opportunities to improve accessibility
- reach out to employees, clients, disability organizations, and the public for ideas about how to improve accessibility within your organization
4c. Recommendations for record-keeping
We recommend that you keep records about the actions your organization has taken to identify, remove, and prevent barriers. This will help you update your accessibility plans in the future.
Here is a list of things we recommend you keep in mind for your records:
- who you consulted when preparing your accessibility plan
- what your organization did to remove current barriers, and when
- the steps you took to prevent barriers in the future
- the costs and the resources you used
- the people responsible for identifying, removing, and preventing barriers
- what your heard about barriers in your organization through your feedback process
- what you heard about your accessibility plan through your feedback process
- where you keep the feedback you receive and how you have used that feedback
5. Updating your accessibility plan
Your accessibility plan is one part of a 3-year planning and reporting cycle you must follow:
- first year: publish an accessibility plan
- second year: publish a progress report explaining how your organization is putting their accessibility plan into action
- third year: publish another progress report
- fourth year: publish a new accessibility plan
- repeat (publish progress reports in the fifth and sixth years, an updated plan in the seventh year, and so on)
More guidance to help you with the steps in this cycle will be published in early 2022.
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