Accessible Canada Act Passed

In June the Canadian federal government passed the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81).

The Act will require federal organizations, including licensed broadcasters, to identify, remove, and prevent accessibility barriers in six priority areas:

  • the built environment (buildings and public spaces);

  • employment (job opportunities and employment policies and practices);

  • information and communication technologies (digital content and technologies used to access it);

  • the procurement of goods and services;

  • the delivery of programs and services; and

  • transportation (air, rail, ferry and bus carriers that operate across provincial, territorial or international borders) - unlikely to affect broadcasters.

Licensed broadcasters (and other federal entities) will be required to:

  • Create accessibility plans describing their strategies for improving accessibility, in consultation with people with disabilities, publish these plans, update them at least every three years, and notify the CRTC each time a new plan is published.

  • Consult with people with disabilities in preparation of the plan, and set up ways to receive and respond to feedback from employees and customers, including complaints about how the organization is fulfilling its accessibility plan or barriers encountered by individuals.

  • Prepare and publish progress reports that detail how they fulfill their accessibility plans in consultation with people with disabilities including a description of the feedback they received and how they responded to it.

For broadcasters, responsibility for reporting, compliance, and enforcement will be divided between the CRTC and a new Accessibility Commissioner. The Accessibility Commissioner will  ensure that broadcasters publish accessibility and progress reports related to the first two priority areas. The CRTC would be responsible for ensuring that broadcasters publish accessibility plans and progress reports related to the last four priority areas. The Act also contains mechanisms for complaints, investigations, compliance orders, and monetary penalties for failure to adhere to the terms of the Act. The Accessibility Canada Act has amended the Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act to empower the CRTC to enforce the obligations in this Act.

When the CRTC and Accessibility Commissioner have announced further details on how reporting will work, we will send these to members.

Funding:

In their press release from 2018, the government says that it will provide $290 million in funding to further the objectives of the new legislation.

The NCRA/ANREC through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has an improving Accessibility grant which will fund up to 75% of the cost of stations’ projects to improve accessibility.  You can apply to the NCRA/ANREC for a grant of up to $8,000. To date, the NCRA/ANREC has funded the inclusion of ramps to inaccessible buildings and studios, the improvements to doors, and alarm systems and more to improve accessibility.

The Empowering Accessibility grant is now on a rolling deadline with the next batch of decisions being made on the 25th of July. Submit your application to the NCRA by July 22nd to be judged in this round. You can apply for that funding here In addition you can see the guidelines for our grant here.

We are also looking for PSA’s related to promoting accessibility. There are honorariums available for producing these PSAs. Contact luke@ncra.ca for more information.

The Enabling Accessibility Fund also has a Youth Innovation stream that stations can apply for.

 

Additional Resources:

Employment and Social Development Canada has included a youtube video describing the proposed act in American Sign Language (ASL). They also created a plain language summary of the bill.

As you may remember, a few years ago the NCRA developed the original disAbilities Handbook, inspired by former board member Stephane Bertrand and available on the NCRA’s website. The handbook contains suggestions about making your station more accessible and a physical accessibility audit. Under the ESDC grant, the NCRA/ANREC is working with our Accessibility Committee to update the handbook. We will be sharing that with you soon.

Please get in touch if you have any questions,

Do you have a sense of what the timeline for these obligations will look like, such as when we would be expected to have accessibility plans in place?
The NCRA/ANREC will be keeping an eye out on the CRTC and Accessibility Commissioner.
The Act has passed. However, we are waiting for the CRTC and Accessibility Commissioner to roll out their timelines and issue further guidance.
The CRTC will likely be issuing a timeline on when those plans are expected.

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