Accessible Canada Act, 2019

With the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) becoming the latest law in 2019, all federally regulated entities including airlines, broadcasters, telecommunication providers, and more are obliged to provide full accessibility for all Canadians. All federal government departments and agencies must abide by the existing Treasury Board of Canada accessibility policies. The law also expects updates to be made for the existing laws to align with standards as laid out in the ACA. The ACA aims to make Canada more inclusive and accessible by January 1, 2040.

It’s the first federal law that clearly mentions sign languages (American Sign Language, Quebec Sign Language, and Indigenous sign languages).

Accessible Canada Act – Legislation
Can. June 21, 2019

What does the Accessible Canada Act mean to you?

There is an excellent resource in ASL and LSQ.

The first one is made possible by ARCH, A Legal Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities in Ontario. It has both ASL and LSQ, and English captioning. This is a brief overview of the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) and what it means for Canadians. There are different topics in this video, so feel free to skip ahead if you wish.

The second one is provided by Accessible Standards Canada, which is an agency under the Government of Canada. It has an English webpage, with an ASL video in the top right corner, and if you click on “Français,” the French version will be displayed, along with a LSQ video. This also is a brief overview of the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) and what it means for Canadians.

Please click on the link here:

What is the Accessible Canada Act – ACA? The ACA became law in 2019. It is a federal law that aims to remove barriers across Canada, as it applies to the federal government and federally regulated organizations (i.e. banks, airports, inter-provincial trucking industry, and so on). This video informs you of how federally regulated organizations are required to improve their accessibility for Canadians, and the eventual new procedure to make complaints when you feel that a federal organization has not provided accommodations to you.


From 2016 to 2017, the federal government consulted Canadians on planned accessibility legislation. That legislation was introduced as Bill C-81 in June 2018. It received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019, and came into force on July 11, 2019 as the Accessible Canada Act. The purpose of the Accessible Canada Act is to increase the inclusion and participation of disabled Canadians in society by removing barriers and improving accessibility. The Act affects many issues, such as: the targets of the legislation (e.g., transportation, government services, employment, etc.); how to make sure businesses and governments follow the rules for accessibility; and how to evaluate its success in improving accessibility

Early Recommendations from CAD-ASC, and results

Our consultations and research with 31 partner organizations resulted in a report submitted to the federal government in the spring of 2017. This report included 24 recommendations. The government considered these recommendations when it wrote Bill C-81 in 2017-18. Here are some of the central pieces of the legislation which were influenced by our recommendations.

Sign Languages recognition: American Sign Language (ASL) and Quebec Sign Language (LSQ) along with Indigenous Sign languages were recognized as the primary languages for communication by Deaf persons in Canada.

Communication accessibility: The legislation strives to promote full communication accessibility by removing many barriers that hinder full and equal participation in society by Deaf people and people with communication disabilities.

Breaking barriers: The Act outlines how to identify and remove accessibility barriers in areas such as: the built environment (buildings and public spaces), employment (job opportunities and employment), delivering programs and services, procurement of goods and services, transportation, and information and communication technologies.

Enforcement: The Act created the position of an Accessibility Commissioner to make sure that organizations and services follow the law. There is also an independent Chief Accessibility Officer who will be responsible for monitoring and reporting to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities on the implementation of this Act across all sectors. The Chief Accessibility Officer will also be responsible for reporting and providing advice to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities on emerging and systemic issues.

Disability community’s involvement: There is now a body called Accessibility Standards Canada which is responsible for developing accessibility standards. This organization has a board of directors and committees that include people with disabilities.

Affected organizations: The Act applies to most governmental organizations and services that must follow the government’s laws: Canada Revenue Agency, Transportation Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada, the RCMP, banking, telephone, radio, and television services.

Changing attitudes and raising awareness: National AccessAbility Week has been created by the Act. Starting on the last Sunday of May and continuing until the first week of June, it is a week for Canadians to promote inclusion, diversity, and accessibility in their communities and workplaces, and to further break down barriers.

Autonomy and independence: One of the principles and declared purposes of this legislation is to give people with disabilities independence and autonomy, treating them with inherent dignity and offering them equal opportunities.

Community involvement: The Act mandates organizations to work with people who have disabilities to create a plan to make their services accessible. It ensures they provide ways for people with disabilities to make complaints. It also requires them to share their accessibility information with the public. Inspections and enforcement: The Accessibility Commissioner or an enforcement officer would be allowed to verify compliance or to prevent non-compliance. They would be allowed to make inspections and compliance audits, issue compliance orders, write notices of violation, impose monetary penalties, and administer other punitive options.

For more information, see the following links: