Creating an accessible Canada
Around the globe, many countries are proactively seeking a digital arena that's accessible for all. They're putting legislation in place to inform businesses of web accessibility standards and enthuse compliance - and that includes the Accessible Canada Act. But what is it and what does it mean for you?
What is the Accessible Canada Act?
The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) has been set out by the Government of Canada to fulfill their vision of a barrier-free Canada, where everyone can participate fully within their communities, workplaces and services without barriers. It's a proactive measure to eliminate and prevent barriers to ensure greater opportunities for persons with disabilities.
What does this mean for digital inclusion?
When it comes to identifying, removing and preventing barriers, the goal of ACA is to see a change in culture, where standards are developed, and proactive compliance and enforcement measures are seen. The priorities outlined by ACA below are applicable when it comes to digital accessibility...
- Service design and delivery - to ensure services can be accessed and received by all
- Employment - to ensure equal access to employment opportunities, and workplaces that are accessible for all
- Information and communication technologies - to ensure accessible digital content and technologies that can be used by all
Where does it apply?
The Accessible Canada Act applies to parliament, the Government of Canada, and the federally-regulated private sector.
What does this mean for you?
The Accessible Canada Act puts the onus on the providers of services as well as employers, to ensure everyone has equal access to their services and the tools in place to support diverse needs. As something that should be on everybody's minds, whether you fit into one of the above categories or not, being compliant to accessibility standards helps you to become a more inclusive organization. It also has other benefits - since some disabilities can be hidden, unidentified or acquired later in life, being proactive and having the right support in place can help save you time and money too.
Creating online accessible services
Most products and services now rely on the seamless connections and quick access made available by a digital landscape. One in five people in Canada has a disability, meaning it has never been more important to create accessible experiences - and that encompasses both creating inclusive online services, in addition to addressing the considerations around equal access to employment opportunities.
Helping to make digital content more accessible are tools such as ReachDeck - a solution that helps organizations to improve the accessibility, readability and reach of their online content. ReachDeck helps you to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines by identifying errors on your website. It helps you to follow best practice advice for content creation, by highlighting readability errors. And, it provides your web visitors with a web accessibility toolbar, helping them to engage with your content in the way that suits them.
Creating inclusive workplaces
In Canada 59% of working-age adults with a disability report being employed but just 1 in 3 have accommodations in the workplace to support them day-to-day. Companies who invest in the right tools for their employees see an increase in productivity, morale and retention.
Inclusive software such as Read&Write, can help staff to more efficiently, more accurately, and more confidently. As a powerful literacy and productivity tool, Read&Write is designed to suits everyone’s workstyle, and particularly benefits employees with Dyslexia, Aspergers, Dyspraxia, Autism and ADHD.
Empowering your employees and customers
By providing both of these tools, you are empowering your employees and customers to translate, read, write, and communicate with confidence and independence - particularly those with disabilities or literacy barriers. This increases the inclusivity and efficiency of your process and practices - whilst helping to break down communications barriers and compliment the services you provide. Not only will this help you to meet parts of the Accessible Canada Act, but ultimately it is the right thing to do.
If you're interested in finding out more about how we can help you in your accessibility and inclusion journey, take a look at our workplace solutions.