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Accessibility Standards Canada and CSA Group Collaborate to Publish Three New Accessibility Standards - A Tactile Solution Canada Perspective

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Accessibility Standards Canada and CSA Group Collaborate to Publish Three New Accessibility Standards - A Tactile Solution Canada Perspective

In February 2023, Accessibility Standards Canada (ASC) and CSA Group announced a new collaboration to publish three updated accessibility standards that will help create more inclusive and barrier-free spaces across Canada.


As Canada's premier supplier of tactile solutions for the visually impaired, Tactile Solution Canada recognizes the immense value these new standards will have in advancing accessibility and safety in the built environment.


In this blog post, our team of experts will provide an overview of these landmark standards, highlight key improvements and takeaways, and discuss the importance of regulatory compliance for Canadian contractors, architects, and property managers.


An Introduction to Accessibility Standards Canada


First, let's provide some background on Accessibility Standards Canada. ASC is an accredited standards development organization created in 2019 under the Accessible Canada Act.


The mandate of ASC is to develop voluntary accessibility standards, fund research, and share information to help achieve a barrier-free Canada by 2040. ASC brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including persons with disabilities, industry representatives, regulators, and subject matter experts, to create consensus-based accessibility standards.


These standards aim to remove barriers and enhance accessibility in priority areas like employment, built environment, transportation, information & communication technologies, and service delivery. They outline technical requirements and best practices that organizations, including federal entities, can voluntarily adopt to improve accessibility.


While not legally mandatory, ASC's standards are considered the gold standard for accessibility and are increasingly being referenced in provincial and local regulations across Canada.


Overview of the Three New Accessibility Standards


Now, let's take a closer look at the three critical accessibility standards recently published through the collaboration between ASC and CSA Group:


1. CSA/ASC B651 - Accessible Design for the Built Environment


This revised standard provides best practice requirements for making buildings and facilities accessible for persons with varying disabilities. Key updates in this edition include:


  • New anthropometric data for better dimensional guidelines
  • Enhanced luminance and color contrast specifications for signs, controls, and walking surfaces
  • Expanded guidance on addressing functional and cognitive limitations
  • Revised recommendations for door controls and water stations


2. CSA/ASC B651.2 - Accessible Design for Self-Service Interactive Devices


This standard sets recommendations for creating accessible automated banking machines, self-checkout kiosks, self-order menus, and other public-facing interactive systems. The main focus areas are:


  • Improving physical access through reach range, clearance, and usage requirements
  • Enhancing perceptual accessibility via visual, tactile, and audio feedback
  • Optimizing usability by accommodating diverse users and abilities


3. CSA/ASC B652 - Accessible Dwellings


This new residential accessibility standard establishes best practices for designing adaptable and accessible homes. Key provisions include:


  • Minimum area allowances for manoeuvering and living spaces
  • Guidelines for reachable controls, work surfaces, and storage
  • Tactile and visual wayfinding recommendations
  • Lighting and acoustics criteria for accessibility
  • Accessibility considerations for all residential rooms and amenities


These standards were developed through extensive consultations with subject matter experts, alongside invaluable lived experience input from persons with disabilities.


Why Do These Standards Matter?


The publication of these new standards represents a major milestone in ensuring accessibility for all Canadians. Here are some of the key reasons they are so important:


  • They set consistent, nationwide criteria for accessibility in priority areas like housing, banking, and the built environment. This benefits both consumers and providers/contractors.
  • With a rigorous development process and evidence-based guidelines, they reflect the latest knowledge and best practices in accessible design.
  • They will be increasingly referenced in building codes, municipal by-laws, and procurement policies across Canada, underscoring the need for compliance.
  • Adherence to these standards demonstrates a strong organizational commitment to inclusivity and universal design.
  • For contractors and architects, meeting these voluntary standards signals your expertise in accessibility and helps attract clients.
  • Ultimately, widespread adoption of these standards will tangibly transform communities by removing barriers to participation and enhancing the quality of life for all Canadians.


Compliance is Crucial for Constructors and Property Managers


While voluntary, compliance with standards like ASC/CSA B651 is becoming a crucial part of risk management for constructors and property managers in Canada.


Here are some reasons why adhering to accessibility standards is vital:


  • It helps avoid legal liability and penalties under laws like the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which references accessibility standards for the built environment.
  • It lowers the risk of human rights complaints and lawsuits from consumers impacted by inaccessible facilities.
  • It meets the requirements of increasing municipal building codes, zoning by-laws, and development standards across Canada.
  • Federal, provincial, and municipal agencies now actively integrate compliance with standards like ASC/CSA B651 into procurement frameworks as evaluation and eligibility criteria. Compliance is key if contractors want to tap into lucrative public sector bids.
  • Certifications like LEED are also beginning to reference these standards. Constructors can gain a competitive edge by showcasing their commitment to voluntary accessibility standards.


By proactively ensuring projects meet or exceed ASC's accessibility standards, constructors and property managers demonstrate leadership, responsibility, and expertise in inclusive design. This open approach to accommodating Canadians of all abilities represents the future of ethical and sustainable construction.


Tactile Solutions Canada - Your Partner in Accessibility


As Canada's leading tactile solutions provider, Tactile Solution Canada helps constructors, architects, building owners, and property managers enhance accessibility and regulatory compliance with our diverse product range, including:


  • Access Tile® Tactile Systems - Replaceable and surface-applied tactile tiles made of durable engineered polymers.
  • Armor Tile® Tactile Systems - Heavy-duty outdoor tactile tiles made of polymers, concrete, and metals. Withstand extreme weather and loads.
  • Advantage® Tactile Systems – Tactile tiles made of robust metals like stainless steel and cast iron plate suitable for high-traffic locations.
  • Ecoglo® Photoluminescent Wayfinding - Provides visual guidance and orientation in low-light emergency conditions.
  • Eon Tile – Flexible rubber tactile tiles suitable for retrofitting existing surfaces. Available with anti-slip truncated domes.
  • Elan Tile – Smooth porcelain tile with slip-resistant tactile domes.  Aesthetically pleasing for indoor settings.


Designed for strength, slip resistance, and CSA/AODA/ISO standards compliance, our solutions create accessible built environments that accommodate Canadians of all abilities.


By consulting our team of experts early in your project, we can recommend optimal tactile solutions tailored to your unique specifications and compliance needs. Contact us today!


Frequently Asked Questions


What are some key benefits of the new CSA/ASC accessibility standards?

The new standards provide consistent, nationwide criteria for accessibility across priority sectors. They reflect the latest evidence and universal design best practices. They also demonstrate an organization's commitment to inclusivity.


Who developed these new voluntary accessibility standards?

The standards were developed through extensive consultation between Accessibility Standards Canada, CSA Group subject matter experts, and persons with lived experience of disabilities.


What risks do contractors and owners face by ignoring accessibility standards?

Potential risks include:


  • Lawsuits.
  • Human rights complaints.
  • Failing to meet building code/zoning requirements.
  • Ineligibility for public projects.
  • Reputational damage.


How do Tactile Solutions from Tactile Solution Canada enhance accessibility?

Our tactile tiles, pavers, and wayfinding solutions provide critical visual, tactile, and orientation cues for persons with visual disabilities as per CSA and AODA regulations.


How can constructors ensure projects meet accessibility standards?

By consulting accessibility experts like Tactile Solution Canada early in the design process, constructors can seamlessly integrate compliant tactile solutions into public space projects.