How the Accessible Canada Act Will Impact Web Publishers

Rishi Raj Singh Gera July 23, 2019
The Accessible Canada Act is legislation intended to help to create a barrier-free Canada by identifying and removing or preventing barriers to access “wherever Canadians interact with areas under federal jurisdiction.” The Act received unanimous support in the House of Commons in May of 2019, and it will:
  • Create disability standards
  • Support the Government of Canada as it works with stakeholders to create new accessibility regulations
  • Focus on Information and Communication technologies by providing Accessible digital content and technologies 
  • Measure and enforce compliance with accessibility measures
 
Why a New Accessible Canada Act?
Many provinces already have accessibility laws in place. In fact, the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disabilities Act became law in 2005, making it the oldest such set of laws in Canada. Ontario requires all web content to follow WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines so that all users can engage online without barriers. Despite laws like this in multiple provinces, challenges remain, viz.:
  • According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, more than 6 million Canadians aged 15 and over (22% of the population) identify as having a disability.
  • Only 59% of Canadians with disabilities aged 25 to 64 are employed compared to 80% of Canadians without disabilities. 
  • Persons with disabilities earn less than Canadians without disabilities (12% less for those with milder disabilities and 51% less for those with more severe disabilities) and are more likely to live in poverty.
 
Recent Acts Related to Accessible Canada
In addition to the older Ontario law, additional provinces have existing rules for online accessibility. For example:
  • The Accessibility for Manitobans Act, passed in 2013, is similar to Ontario’s legislation. It includes an Accessible Information and Communications Standard which requires web publishers to follow strict guidelines for accessibility.
  • The Nova Scotia Accessibility Act, passed in 2018, also includes an accessibility standard for online content and communication. Nova Scotia will also offer small business grants to help support the removal of barriers to access. 
 
FAQs for Digital Educational Publishers Relative to the Act
Q: Are educational websites subject to The Accessible Canada Act? A: Most likely, new requirements will mirror those of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Individual provinces are also continuing to develop their own rules; it is likely that these will be similar to those of WCAG 2.0. Q: Where will the guidelines apply? A: The National Act applies to any website related to the federally-regulated private sector; provincial Acts vary. Q: What are some of the requirements for accessibility? A:  WCAG 2.0 focuses on a range of online accessibility features. These include but are not limited to captions, alt text for images, and audio description. Magic Edtech offers a full range of accessibility services for educational publishers. We can audit your existing content, recommend and implement necessary design and remediation updates. We can even conduct hands-on testing with stakeholders to ensure accessibility across different groups of disabled users.  Learn more at https://www.magicedtech.com/solutions/digital-accessibility/, or contact us directly for more information.
Rishi Raj Singh Gera

As the Consulting Head, Rishi Raj Singh Gera looks after business consulting across Content Engineering, Platform Engineering and Technical Solutions at Magic EdTech. An experienced leader with over 19 years of experience, Rishi has extensive experience with universal content, platform architecture design and delivery across Education, Financial services, Automotive and Health care industries.