Nothing Without Us and the Accessible Canada Act

Canada flexes its accessibility superpower muscles by passing the Accessible Canada Act and beginning the campaign “Nothing Without Us”

Image for post
Image for post
Man wearing dark leather zippered jacket partially opened to reveal a Canadian flag t-shirt

Accessible Canada Act — The Beginning

How did Canada do this? In a way Canadians are well-known for — publicly, and fairly. It started with the Government of Canada consulting 6000 Canadians, holding 18 public hearings, and summarizing the findings in July 2016 in a report titled “Creating new national accessibility legislation: What we learned from Canadians”

Who is covered under the Accessible Canada Act?

Then, the Canadian Parliament unanimously passed the Accessible Canada Act, which applies to the following four groups of “regulated entities” :

  • the Government of Canada, including government departments, Crown Corporations and agencies;
  • the federally regulated private sector, including organizations in the transportation sectors, broadcasting and telecommunications services, and the banking and financial sectors; and
  • the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), while allowing for considerations related to bona fide occupational requirements, such as certain physical requirements necessary in order to carry out certain jobs.

What is included in the Accessible Canada Act?

The Accessible Canada Act outlines how to identify and remove accessibility barriers and prevent new barriers, including in:

  1. Employment (job opportunities and employment policies and practices);
  2. Information and communication technologies (digital content and technologies used to access it);
  3. Procurement of goods and services;
  4. Delivering programs and services; and
  5. Transportation (by air as well as by rail, ferry and bus carriers that operate across a provincial or international border).

Nothing Without Us

Finally, last week during National AccessAbility Week, the Government of Canada launched its first ever accessibility strategy for Canadian public, setting the conditions to identify, prevent, and remove barriers in the workplace to persons with disabilities. This strategy, called “Nothing Without Us” is focused on:

  • enhancing the accessibility of the built environment
  • making communications technology usable by all
  • equipping public servants to design and deliver accessible programs and services
  • building public service that is confidently accessible

What do all these things put together mean?

When you link these three components— in particular:

  • employment, and;
  • procurement

What is in the ACA?

Like the American’s with Disabilities Act, the ACA is really an extensible framework, and there are still many pieces that need to be set in place.


The next step for this bill is Royal Assent (which is typically a rubber stamp of approval, the big step was getting it approved by parliament).

Written by

Blogger, disability advocate, nerd. Bringing the fire on ableism. A11y Architect @ VMware. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter. CS, Law, and Business background

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store