Accessibility legislation

Accessibility legislation across North America (US accessibility laws) ensure equal opportunity for and effective communication with people with disabilities. T-Base has extensive experience working with legal and standards-setting groups on a consultative basis. This allows us to share pertinent information involving accessible communications with our customers, better preparing them to meet the needs of consumers who are blind or low vision and reduce legislative risk.

To strengthen compliance with accessibility legislation, it’s important to first understand your obligations. You’re in the right place; simply click through the tabs below.

Accessibility legislation in the United States (US Accessibility Laws)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. It also mandates the establishment of TDD/telephone relay services.

Title II

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to all activities of state and local governments, regardless of an entity’s size or receipt of federal funding. It requires that all state and local governments give people with disabilities equal opportunity to benefit from all programs, services, and activities (e.g. public education, employment, transportation, recreation, healthcare, social services, town meetings, etc.). They are required to be able to communicate effectively with people who have hearing, vision, or speech disabilities.

Title III

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in “places of public accommodation” (businesses and non-profit agencies that serve the public) and “commercial facilities” (other businesses). For example, under Title III of the ADA, banks are required to communicate effectively with people with disabilities, which may include providing auxiliary aids and services.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law, first passed by Congress in 1975. IDEA protects the rights of children with disabilities in that it requires schools to provide them with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). All eligible students with disabilities must be educated at the expense of the public, have the right to be educated in the public school system and are entitled to the education that is appropriate for them (i.e. tailored to meet their individual needs). Among the students eligible for special education services under IDEA are those who are blind or deaf-blind.

Telecommunications Act (Section 255)

Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and providers of telecommunications services to ensure that their equipment and services are accessible to persons with disabilities, if readily achievable. The Federal Communications Commission’s Report and Order Implementing Section 255 was released in September 1999.

Section 508

ADA requirements within Section 508 have the net effect of requiring that vendors seeking to do business with the U.S. Federal Government must also ensure their websites and software tools meet accessibility requirements. While Section 508 compliance requirements stop short of placing an obligation on the operators of private sector websites, it is the buying power of the federal government that makes many private companies decide to comply with the terms of 508 – because compliance may help them to win federal work.

WCAG 2.0/2.1

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the industry-recognized body for setting web accessibility standards. Through the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), W3C aims to ensure all users have equal access to information and functionality online. An accessible website is achieved when web pages and processes are validated for compliance against the W3C’s Standards, (WCAG 2.0/2.1 Level AA).

Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010

The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act was established to ensure all individuals have equal access to new-age technology. Title I: Communication Access addresses communications access to make products and services using Broadband fully accessible to people with disabilities. For example, smartphones will be required to be usable by blind and visually impaired people as well as people with hearing aids. Title II: Video Programming of the accessibility act breaks new ground to make it easier for people with disabilities to view video programming on television and the internet.

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Section 1557 is the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, age, national origin, colour and race within federally funded healthcare programs, and extends protections to individuals who purchase health insurance through the health insurance marketplaces. By first plan year beginning on Jan. 1, 2017, Covered Entities must ensure applicable health insurance & group benefit designs comply with Section 1557, which includes providing appropriate auxiliary aids (e.g. alternate formats) and services.

Accessibility legislation by state

  • California Disabled Persons Act & California Unruh Civil Rights Act
  • Arkansas Act 1227 of 1999
  • Texas House Bill 2819, 79th Regular Legislative Session

Accessibility legislation in Canada

The Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensure equal of opportunity and freedom from discrimination for Canadians nation-wide.

Bill C-81 – An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada (“Accessible Canada Act”)

Bill C-81, the proposed federal accessibility legislation, was tabled June 20, 2018. Its purpose: to identify and prevent accessibility barriers in several areas, including the following: information and communication technologies, procurement of goods and services and the delivery of programs and services. Under the Act, federally regulated entities (e.g. financial services/banks, telecommunications providers and government agencies) must fulfill the following duties: create and publish accessibility plans that describe strategies for improving accessibility and meeting legal obligations, set up ways to receive and respond to feedback on fulfillment of the plan, and publish progress reports. To fulfill duties outlined in the Accessible Canada Act, regulated entities must consult with people with disabilities. Bill C-81 is not final and has not yet become law. T-Base will stay informed and share any updates here on the Legislation page.

Update >> On June 21, 2019, Canada’s first federal accessibility legislation received Royal Assent.

CRTC 2009-430

The Broadcasting and Telecommunications Regulatory Policy (CRTC 2009-430) issued in 2009 includes provisions and impending deadlines affecting T-Base’s telecommunications customers. By July 21, 2010, telecommunications service providers must promote information on all of their disability-specific services and products, in the accessible manner(s) of their choice; incorporate an easy-to-find home page link to the special needs/disability sections of their websites; and make their call centres accessible by way of training CSR’s on how best to respond to inquiries and on the importance of understanding the organization’s products and services for persons with disabilities.

CRTC – The Wireless Code

The CTRC Wireless Code establishes new standards that all wireless service providers must follow. Under section B, Contracts and related documents – 1. Postpaid service contracts: A service provider must give the customer a permanent copy of the contract and related documents at no charge. Part iii of that section, “A service provider must provide a customer with a copy of the contract in an alternative format for people with disabilities upon request, at no charge, at any time during the commitment period.” It will apply to new contracts starting on December 2, 2013. Please visit the CRTC website for more information.

New Standard on Web Accessibility 2.0

The Government of Canada’s New Standard on Web Accessibility and new Standard on Web Usability is now in effect to reflect modern practices on the web and changes in technology.

WCAG 2.0/2.1

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the industry-recognized body for setting web accessibility standards. Through the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), W3C aims to ensure all users have equal access to information and functionality online. An accessible website is achieved when web pages and processes are validated for compliance against the W3C’s Standards, (WCAG 2.0/2.1 Level AA).

Accessibility legislation by province

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

On June 13, 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) received Royal Assent and is now law. The AODA aims to ensure all Ontarians have equal access to programs and services by way of developing, implementing, and enforcing accessibility standards and removing barriers for people with disabilities.

AODA’s Customer Service Standard

The Customer Service Standard under the AODA applies to all organizations, both public and private, that provide goods or services either directly to the public or to other organizations in Ontario (third parties) and that have one or more employees in Ontario. All providers covered by the customer service standard must comply with certain requirements to improve accessibility.

AODA’s Integrated Standard

On June 3, 2011, the Ontario government released the final AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards regulation under the AODA, 2005. The Final Regulation combines accessibility standards in three areas: Information and Communications, Employment and Transportation.

Quebec -Loi assurant l’exercice des droits des personnes handicapées en vue de leur intégration scolaire, professionnelle et sociale

The Act to secure the rights of people with disabilities was adopted in 1978. Following its in-depth review by the National Assembly in 2004, it is now entitled An Act to secure the rights of persons with disabilities to achieving social, professional and social.

Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA)

On December 5, 2013, the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) became law, allowing the Manitoba government to address and develop mandatory accessibility standards. AMA focuses on five key areas to ensure accessibility is applied in both private and public sector organizations: Accessible Customer Service, Accessible Information and Communications, Accessible Built Environment, Employment Accessibility, and Accessible Transportation.

Accessibility Legislation in Nova Scotia

An Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia received Royal Assent on April 27, 2017, making Nova Scotia the fourth Canadian province to enact accessibility legislation. This Act aims to achieve province-wide accessibility by 2030.

British Columbia’s Accessibility 2024

British Columbia is another province proactively working to increase accessibility for persons with disabilities. In June 2014, the Premier released the roadmap to Accessibility 2024 with a 10-year action plan, which has contributed to B.C. making huge strides to reduce barriers for its citizens.