What is the Accessible Canada Act (ACA)?
The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) is a federal law passed in Canada in 2019 with the aim of promoting accessibility and inclusion for persons with disabilities in Canada. The act establishes a framework to ensure that federal organizations and industries work to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility for persons with disabilities in Canada.
The ACA also establishes a Chief Accessibility Officer and the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO), which work together to develop and review accessibility standards that apply to various industries and sectors. The ACA requires that federally-regulated organizations, including government bodies, banks, telecommunications companies and transportation providers, comply with these accessibility standards.
In addition to creating accessibility standards, the ACA requires that federally-regulated organizations create and publish accessibility plans, detailing how they will identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. The ACA also provides for the establishment of an Accessibility Commissioner, who is responsible for enforcing the accessibility standards and investigating complaints of non-compliance.
How does the Accessible Canada Act relate to web accessibility?
The Act requires that federal organizations make their digital content and online services accessible to persons with disabilities, including those with visual, auditory, physical, and cognitive impairments. This includes ensuring that websites and web-based applications are designed and developed in a way that allows for accessible navigation, content, and functionality.
The ACA also mandates that the CASDO develop accessibility standards for information and communication technologies (ICT), which includes web content and web-based applications. These standards are designed to ensure that they’re accessible to persons with disabilities. The standards cover a range of areas, including the design, development, and maintenance of accessible web content.
Who enforces the Accessible Canada Act?
The Accessibility Commissioner is responsible for enforcing the accessibility standards for ICT. The Commissioner can investigate complaints related to the accessibility of digital content and services and can take enforcement actions against organizations that are not compliant with the accessibility standards.
Does the Accessible Canada Act mandate a specific WCAG level?
The CASDO has identified the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA as the technical standard for web accessibility in Canada.
However, it is important to note that the ACA does not simply mandate compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, but rather requires the development of accessibility standards that are consistent with this standard.
This means that the CASDO may develop standards that include additional requirements beyond WCAG 2.0 Level AA, or may identify alternative technical standards that are consistent with the principles of accessibility and the objectives of the ACA.
Silktide would always recommend going beyond the minimum requirements in law, which is why we test websites to the latest standards, WCAG 2.2.
How does Silktide help me comply with the Accessible Canada Act?
Silktide works by helping you find and fix web accessibility issues across your websites in the code, design, and content.
Because it’s automated, it helps you:
- Find accessibility problems at scale
- Check for ongoing changes to your websites
We recommend manual testing to find specific instances that cannot be automated. This includes, for example, describing the contents of images in the alt text. But manual testing is usually only an expensive, infrequent ad-hoc process.
Silktide monitors your website by testing pages all the time. Your content team can test pages before they’re published. This avoids any accessibility failures before your customers experience them.
The main ways that Silktide’s automated web accessibility testing platform helps include:
- Find accessibility issues across thousands of pages
- Explain how to fix the issues
- Provide training to web team members to prevent future issues
- Inspire your entire organization to improve, through scores, gamification, and ongoing reports