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Understanding Accessibility Standards Canada's Roadmap to Barrier Free Canada by 2040

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Understanding Accessibility Standards Canada's Roadmap to Barrier Free Canada by 2040

Canada has always strived to be an inclusive society where people from all backgrounds and abilities can equally participate. With approximately 30% of Canadian adults living with some form of disability, removing barriers to accessibility has become imperative. Recognizing this need, the Government of Canada passed the Accessible Canada Act in 2019, which aims to achieve an Accessible Canada by 2040 where persons with disabilities can live independently and with dignity.


Accessibility Standards Canada plays a pivotal role in realizing this vision. It was established under the Accessible Canada Act to develop accessibility standards that will systematically remove barriers across priority areas like employment, transportation, built environment, etc. To effectively carry out this mandate, Accessibility Standards Canada developed a 'Roadmap to 2040', which outlines a comprehensive plan to guide its work towards a barrier-free Canada in the next two decades.


As a key supplier of tactile warning systems for the visually impaired, we at Tactile Solution Canada aim to enhance accessibility and safety for all through our products. In this comprehensive blog, we delve deeper into understanding Accessibility Standards Canada's Roadmap to 2040. We explain its strategic approach and timelines and how accessibility standards developed by it can positively impact Canadians with disabilities. Our goal is to spread awareness about initiatives promoting inclusion so contractors, building managers, and owners are encouraged to adopt accessible design practices from the outset.


Accessibility Standards Canada's Guiding Vision


The overarching vision driving Accessibility Standards Canada's work is to have a barrier-free Canada by the target date of January 1, 2040. Nevertheless, developing accessibility standards is just one part of achieving this audacious goal. For the standards to be impactful, they need to be incorporated into regulations by the Government and implemented on the ground by federal entities.


Accessibility Standards Canada recognizes it cannot accomplish this alone and needs to collaborate closely with other players, such as diverse disability communities, regulators, standards development organizations, and different levels of Government. The Roadmap thus outlines two key work streams: developing world-class accessibility standards while also positioning the organization as a strong leader, influencer, and partner.


Developing Accessibility Standards in Phases


Under its first work stream, Accessibility Standards Canada plans to develop standards in three rounds spanning the next two decades:


  • Round 1 (By the end of 2024): Standards addressing immediate priorities that can reduce barriers in the short term, such as employment, emergency planning, etc.

  • Round 2 (By the end of 2026): Standards focusing on areas with high impact but requiring more resources, such as complex built environment guidelines.

  • Round 3 (By the end of 2028): Standards for remaining and emerging issues to complete coverage of priority areas by 2033.


Multiple criteria are used to determine standards for each round, like level of barrier impact, resource needs, alignment with Canadians' priorities, and regulatory plans. Careful phasing allows for efficient marshaling of resources while retaining the flexibility to address new concerns. A built-in 5-year review cycle also keeps standards dynamic.


Leadership, Partnering, and Culture Change


The second work stream centers on positioning Accessibility Standards Canada as a strong influencer. This involves conducting ongoing research, including consulting disability communities and closely coordinating with regulators to help swiftly convert standards into mandatory rules.


International cooperation and harmonizing standards across Canada through relationships with provincial/territorial governments are also prioritized. Importantly, Accessibility Standards Canada recognizes that simply developing guidelines is not enough - it must work alongside stakeholders to foster a culture where inclusion is the norm through information, training, and best practices sharing.


Advancing Accessibility with Tactile Solution Canada


With years of experience in the tactile warning systems domain in Canada, we at Tactile Solution Canada understand first-hand the accessibility challenges faced, especially regarding indoor spaces like multi-floor buildings, transit terminals, arenas, hospitals, etc. Tactile products like our attention domes and directional bars serve as important wayfinding aids for visually impaired persons to detect hazards/changes in surfaces independently and confidently.


As Canada strives towards the 2040 goal, adopting principles of universal design from the beginning for both new and renovated buildings will be key. Retrofitting accessibility later tends to be more expensive and disruptive. We are committed to contributing to this mission by working closely with architects, designers, and contractors to incorporate inclusive design seamlessly.


Our extensive range of code-compliant cast iron, stainless steel, polymer, and rubber-based tactile systems offer flexible solutions for any indoor project while meeting all provincial/municipal guidelines. Integrating our products as per Accessibility Standards Canada's recommendations would future-proof structures to be barrier-free from day one as envisioned in the Roadmap.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What if the 2040 target is missed?

A. The 2040 deadline is ambitious but provides motivation. Even if some barriers persist beyond, progressive systematic efforts under the Roadmap will still enhance participation manifold. Continuous reviews also allow goals to be recalibrated as needed.


Q. How will standards impact Canadians?

A. Once incorporated into regulations, accessibility standards will create mandatory uniform requirements. This will translate to an improved quality of life whether seeking employment, accessing public services, or moving independently in daily life. Widespread adherence ultimately fosters a society with no limits for disabilities.


Q. What areas does my project require tactile solutions?

A. Reach out to us for a compliance assessment of your site plans. Our experts can identify code-mandated location for installing detectable warnings - stair nosings, edge strips, platform edges etc. Selection will depend on the nature of your project - commercial/institutional building, transit terminal, healthcare facility, and so on.


Going forward, we at Tactile Solution Canada are committed to supporting Accessibility Standards Canada's barrier-breaking efforts. Please feel free to contact us for any tactile product or compliance queries. Together, through diligent efforts across all fronts, we aim to help build the inclusive Canada envisioned in this pioneering Roadmap.