A complete update on the recent advances of the Canadian legislation on accessibility and inclusion, its implications for the public and private sectors and in matters of enforcement. Panelists will also compare key features of the Canadian legislation with those of the US and EU accessibility legislative and regulatory frameworks.

Session Chair: Jutta Treviranus, Ph.D., Chair, ASC Standard Committee and Director, Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC), OCAD University


  • Philip Rizcallah, P. Eng, CEO, Accessibility Standards Canada
  • Stephanie Cadieux, Chief Accessibility Officer of Canada (remote speaker)
  • Sambhavi (Sam) Chandrashekar, Ph.D., CPACC, Global Accessibility Lead, D2L
  • Monica Ackermann, Head of Accessibility, Scotia Digital, Scotiabank

This video is lacking captions. We expect captions by February 14, 2024.


Good morning, everyone. We're about to begin our next panel. I'd like to introduce our Moderator, Dr. Jutta Treviranus. She is the Chair of the Accessibility Standards Canada Standard Committee, the director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD in Toronto. And she is our Moderator today. Everyone please welcome Jutta.


JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Thank you voice from the back. I was looking for the person saying that a second ago. And this is a continuation of somewhat of the discussions that we've been having this morning with respect to standards and regulations. What we're going to talk about today is what we're doing in Canada. And how Canada is different. And it is quite different. And one of the things that we have been saying is given the framework that has been instituted within Canada for the Accessible Canada Act, we have an infrastructure and an organization of different mechanisms and processes that I think will put Canada in the lead in terms of advancing accessibility. So we feel that we have a global responsibility to push accessibility further. And that we may have the necessary tools and frameworks to do that. And I have an amazing panel here. And the panel is if you were to look at their bios, I think it would take an entire day to read through all of their bios. So I'm going to take Lainey's lead instead of going and give you names and positions. We have online Stephanie Cadieux who is Canada's chief accessibility officer. So the very, very top of the top with respect to accessibility within Canada. And then we also have Philip Rizcallah, who is the CEO of Accessibility Standards Canada. With huge responsibility with respect to guidance regarding Accessibility Standards and Regulations. We also have Sam or Sambhavi Chandrashekar, who is the global accessibility lead at D2L. And last but not least, Monica Ackermann, who is the head of accessibility at Scotia Digital and Scotiabank. And we'd like to start off with Stephanie. And Stephanie, can you set the stage and tell us about the Accessible Canada Act and Canada's accessibility framework?

STEPHANIE CADIEUX: Sure. Hello. Pleasure to be with you. I was in Washington two weeks ago for the Accessible Air Travel Forum. I'm imagining I'm there with you there today in person. Thank you, Jutta, for the introduction and to the MEnabling teams. It is an honor to be joining you. And to see the people and topics and reflections coming past online gives a good sense of the real progress being made in accessibility around the world. But it is up to all of us to keep on the pressure. And we need a more accessible world, top of mind for decision makers and legislators. I know that because I was one for the past 14 years, a legislator in British Colombia and accepted this role as Canada's chief accessibility officer in May of last year. So I'm pleased to tell you a little bit about the Accessible Canada Act. It is an important and powerful piece of legislation that could go to other nations and corporations. When the act was passed in 2019, we talked about as the most significant legislative milestone for disability rights in Canada since 1982. It reflects the commitments made as a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The act is significant. It represents a huge commitment from our Government to eliminate barriers. And it puts the onus on systems to be proactive in doing so. Fundamentally in Canada we're working to change the way disability is perceived in society for accessibility to be embraced as a valuable enhancement, a necessary enhancement, not a burden. We're working for nothing less than a cultural transformation or a mindset shift. A serious society wide reckoning with unconscious bias. The stakes are high. The legislation was developed with input from thousands and thousands of Canadians coast to coast. Mostly people with disabilities, advocacy organizations, indigenous communities, and in Canada more than 22% of Canadians or 6 million people live with a disability. Our success will have a direct impact on the quality of their lives, their abilities to reach their fullest potential and contribute to society in meaningful, selfdirected ways. And I'll just add, for those who don't know me I'm a member of the community. I had a spinal cord injury when I was 18. All of this is incredibly personal for me as well. And that is no small fete. It encompasses priority areas including employment, built environment, ICT and communications overall. So needless to say, success is going to require leadership and accountability at all levels of Government and in industry. It also requires the ongoing input from people with disabilities, the lived experience because they're going to be the first to recognize what is or is not work. I'm fortunate to be playing a role to help ensure that the act is successfully implemented. I act as an independent advisor to the Minister responsible for employment and social development. My role is unique in this regard because I'm charged with viewing implementation at a 40,000 foot level and reporting on the outcomes. My role is to help ensure that nothing gets missed. Provide another level of oversight. I can review feedback coming in across the board. Look at common themes or issues as they emerge. Identify possible solutions that could work for everyone. Along with my position, the act also created the role of the Accessibility Commissioner who will be responsible for enforcement which includes penalties for noncompliance. And the act created a new body, Accessibility Standards Canada, which Jutta, you know well. Beyond this the act requires federal departments and federally regulated industries to take on accountability as well and proactively seek and remove barriers in their organizations. And Scotiabank can tell you more about that. It means a lot of different players are working towards the same goal. One of the key features though of the act is the requirement for organizations to prepare and publish plans that identify, prevent, and remove barriers in their policies, programs, practices and services. They have to be submitted to Canada's Commissioner, accessibility Commissioner. They have to have a feedback mechanism and report on the progress that they're making in a regular manner. In December of last year, the first of those plans was published followed by a larger traunch in June. I am removing those with my team with the intent to offer advice for future iterations. The act only governs federally regulated entities at this point toward inclusion. That can serve as a model for all levels of Government and community and sectors in Canada. People with disabilities have the right to equity. So it stands to benefit us all because we know that people with disabilities are innovators by necessity and solution and insight and experience, cannot afford to miss. So in other words, society can't afford to accommodate inaccessibility. Once legislation exists, it does now, and once policy comes in to effect, we consulting people with disabilities or the principle of nothing without us is critical and baked right into the act. Ensuring that feedback received is taken into account as plans are updated. Safeguards against creating unintended outcomes as we go forward. It is the only way we're going to continuously improve our policy and practice. If we really look at the experience of those people that those policies and practices are intended to benefit. So Jutta, these are early days but I believe we have momentum. And I look forward to discussing it further. Thank you for inviting me to participate and accommodating here from Vancouver.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Thank you. We have been looking at the international examples and learning from has worked, what has not worked in Canada and what is better suited to us within a country that shares some similarities but certainly many differences as well. And I'm going to turn to Philip, and ask how does Canada's framework and Canada's standards differ from the many examples that we've heard of here?

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: Thanks for the question. So I'm going to talk not all standards in Canada. I'm going to talk specifically about Accessibility Standards Canada. Our organization, we are about four years old. I have been in the position for four years. We are probably very, very unique and the only organization in Canada for sure, more than likely in the world have yet to come across another organization like us that has a mandate that we have been given. So we developed standards specifically to remove barriers to accessibility. That's our bread and butter. That's what we do in our office. And we do this in a very, very unique way. So I should say we have two mandates. One of them we develop a standards to remove barriers. But we fund a lot of research that works towards removing barriers and providing guidance for standards development and policy decisions. Why I say we are unique because we are the only organization that embeds Persons with Disabilities into everything that we do. And that is really key for us. So I want to go back and give a little bit of history. When I first started this job four years ago I came into an office with one staff person and a telephone. So from Day One we came and said first thing we are going to do we are going to build the most accessible office space in the country and we have done that. Then we can hire anybody to come work for us. The next thing we did we started hiring people and we had a very large representation of Persons with Disabilities. So we ended up hiring about 25%, if not more, not everyone identifies. And that's fine. 25% of staff of Persons with Disabilities and we are very proud of that number. It has rated us as one of the top employers in Canada. We are very, very proud of this. Like the old movie, Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come. So we built it before we even knew they were going to come. And we ended up getting the right staff coming into our office. Just as standards themselves, the way we develop our standards, we make sure that Persons with Disabilities are on those Committees. So we have academia; we have Government; we have industry; we have private sector. Everyone's represented. So we get experts and we take our time to try to find the experts with lived experience and get them on our committee. So we find by doing this it gives us results that we are looking for. We start creating our own policy. I came from an environment, I had 30 years in Government before I came in and most of that was in developing codes and standards. Generally in the past what I observed was it was usually one sex that was on the Committee and people that had been sitting on this committee for 30 or 40 years and churning out the same sort of process all the time. So we deliberately put in our policies and our Board of Directors insisted that we did, it is made up of Persons with Disabilities primarily. But they insisted that we have variation along our Committees. So we have a very good balance on gender. We have very good balance on Persons with Disabilities and geographical representation. But those are very, very key. It takes a little bit of time to set that up and get experts on the Committees. Once we get going we have done we took it one step further. We wanted to make sure we had the best and brightest on our Committees we provided all the accommodations that we had to provide. We made sure an accommodation need was never an obstacle to put somebody on our Committees. So somebody was deafblind, they needed an assistant, we would pay for that assistant to be there, to help us with what we needed. We needed ASL; we would have ASL provided. Whatever it was that we needed we provided to our members. So that gave us a really very rich base for our Committees. So Stephanie actually mentioned we are working in seven areas. And that's a lot of areas. Transportation, employment, ICT, to communications, those are a lot of areas of standard development. We will not get it done on our own. We would be foolish to think that by 2040 we would have standards in that area. We are teaming with up other countries. Other countries that are reaching out to us. Because we are doing it in a different way than most people have ever done and created our policies and protocols, it makes us very unique and it makes us kind of the leaders on this. People are looking to us, how did you guys do it. So it has been very, very positive so far. I will stop there because I'm sure there will be other questions.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: That's wonderful. And one I mean I definitely have experienced standards committees where I'm the only woman and there is not anybody there with a disability despite the fact that it is a disability standard. The standards are proprietary. That the individuals who have to adhere to the standards face a pay war. And this is an area such as accessibility where we wanted it to be implemented everywhere. That is a barrier. And the other thing, I'm glad you mentioned the removing the financial barrier, that people with disabilities face because frequently international standards efforts don't cover the necessary accessibility requirements. So that's I think quite an amazing step forward. 
 Can you comment on the availability and openness of the standard?

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: Absolutely. I'm going to add one more thing. We pay our members to sit on our committees. They are paid to sit on our Committees because we didn't want any obstacles, especially financial obstacles from coming on our Committees. So we wanted to make this as open and transparent and as accessible in all terms of accessibility to everyone. It has been very, very positive because we're getting some great talent coming on our committees that would have never come otherwise. They would have had obstacles or employers wouldn't have funded them to come or they couldn't get to our site or accessibility provisions provided for them.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Right. So lived experience engrained from the beginning into the standards process. 
 Thank you. And I'm going to turn now to Sam. And Sam, how do the accessibility regulations and the standards impact the digital technology industry that you are meeting with D2L?

SAMBHAVI CHANDRASHEKAR: Thank you for the question. Before I answer you, I just wanted to say something to Philip. Philip, I have known you for several years, but it was good to listen to all of what you said in one sitting. But I would like you to mention more about the researchbased standards when you talk next time.


SAMBHAVI CHANDRASHEKAR: I'm the global accessibility lead at D2L Corporation. It is an education technology company based in Canada but having global operations. You asked about digital technologies and how accessibility regulations have an impact on that. I'd like to say we are a founder company. We have had the vision for the past 23 years of a world where learning is accessible, engaging and inspiring. And every day we are being driven by our mission to transform the way the world learns by reaching every learner regardless of their differences. So how it connects with what Jutta has asked because when you want to reach every learner, you need to know what their differences are. And you need to know what the needs that arise out of those differences are. And you need to focus on equity, not to give everyone the same thing. But to enable everyone to have the same outcome. For that, I think accessibility means choices. Choices giving choices to people, I'm very glad that I'm representing education and education technology. I haven't seen that anywhere else in the MEnabling Technology Forums yesterday and today. Because education is absolutely essential for everyone. UN SDG 4 also stresses about inclusive, equitable education and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Article 24 talks about inclusive education. Regulations help a lot. Because they force people to do what they need to do. But still, digital technology companies could just tick the box; okay, you want a repad. You want it third party certified? It is third party certified. The people who ask for it they are just getting a certification for one day. What's more important is the standards behind those regulations. Like how Philip's organization is trying to produce. World Wide Web Consortium is producing the Guidelines. WCAG 2.2 still to come. Accessibility is about people with disabilities. And how we walk our talk is by engaging a partner, Kate head of innovation here in the audience. So as a partner, what Feable does for us is to provide us, provide our teams with people with disabilities. So our teams whether they are doing research, design, engineering, QA or checking before release or even triaging for support, they all have access to people using a variety of assistive technologies. And we are able to use the standards as the first step to enable compatibility of assistive technologies with the digital technologies that we make. And I think that's kind of I think I got to where you wanted me to go. Like why we need standards maybe in a roundabout way. Regulations are important; standards are important. About all that, the desire to follow the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. And keeping the focus always on the functional side of accessibility. And keeping the technical side of accessibility only to enable compatibility. Yeah. I'll stop at this point.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Thank you for the prompt to talk further about research because I think that's a fairly critical piece of this. To have the necessary knowledge and because the technology, the development in all the other areas is moving so fast. One of the things that we have learned as a researcher within this field, especially in academia is that the granting Councils that fund research which depend on peer review, which depend very much upon academia publishing tenure track systems which all reward statistical significance, and judge the research based upon the numbers and quantified evidence are not very friendly to research with respect to people who tend to be hugely diverse. Where conditions cannot be controlled. And where any one particular thing that you are researching will not benefit a huge number of individuals within the country. So research in this area suffers from the same issues that people with disabilities are facing. And I think that's one of the huge strengths of the framework that has been created with Accessibility Standards Canada. And I would love to hear more about the research that is being supported by ASC.

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: You want to hear it now or you want Monica to speak first?

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Which would you prefer?

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: One of the reasons that our standards are unique we don't work under the principle of minimally acceptable. This is the minimum design, minimum standard or whatever it is. We build based on equity which is a high threshold. And so put it in layman's terms. If you are in a three story building and no elevator in that building, and somebody can't make it to the third floor in that building you are not building to equity. If you put something online, we would require it to be accessible; everyone could read and in plain language. Really are much higher bar. In order to get to that higher bar we have to understand where are the gaps and what's not working in industry. One of the components of our department is to fund research. And there is a couple criteria with our research. The people that we give the research grants, whether academia or associations or NGOs they have to work with the organizations with people with disabilities. You have to work with these groups and tell us who you are working with. They are being paid to work within those groups. So that helps give us information that's valuable and pertinent to what we are trying to do. The research we are funding it is all over the place. Looking for guide dogs and airplanes and how do you make a user friendly plain language document, how do you bring people into employment. It is a wide range. I'm not going to talk about all the areas. We have about 60 or 70 projects funded to date. Jutta has a project with us. You are starting a project on AI for us and that's those are the types of projects that we're leading right now.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Financial inclusion. We could list many of them. Thank you. And the other thing, of course, that's critically important about that research is it is open. So all of it is shared and it is available to anybody globally to take advantage of. And sorry, Monica, go out of turn. But as someone that is in charge of compliance, what would you what recommendations would you make with respect to user experience, with respect to harmonization? I know there has been meetings here at MEnabling talking about how we can improve the entire pipeline of following standards, following regulations, not just the letter of the law but also the spirit of the law.

MONICA ACKERMANN: Great question. And I as you said we're having a lot of conversations about the experience and influence of power and regulation and constraints that regulation might impose on an organization. My name is Monica Ackermann. I'm the head of accessibility at Scotiabank. And I lead the Accessibility Center of Excellence. Up until recently I led the digital accessibility practice. And the teams that ensure that our assistive technology is available to any employees that require accommodations, Whether they ask for it or not. Looking at all builtin tools. And so we've come from an interesting place in regulation. Especially in banking which I say has been doing accessibility for a long time, even prior to Accessibility Standards. And the practice as we grew it was to influence change, to shift left, to help create awareness about how people with disabilities use technology, use banking service to get the voices of people with disabilities into the work we are doing. Now that there is more of a regulatory regime that's coming to that, then we're hitting this inflection point of there may be things that we have chosen to do, which is above the standards, which is or not clearly articulated in the standard. And so when you then hit a regulation that says one must do this, and you are compliant or don't do this, and you are compliant, how do you navigate that space. So it is a really interesting space because these accessibility regulations, which speak to, you know, as we're talking about it, progress over perfection on identifying barriers with the that people with disabilities are telling us as opposed to like a laundry list of requirements. We internally are gathering all those insights but also having to educate our own internal compliance and regulatory folks. They are not used to this kind of regulation. They are not used to this kind of less prescriptive in many ways. And I think that there is a real power in that. It is going to take time and relationships with the regulators, with the compliance folks, with the community of people with disabilities that bank with us and employ us in order to strike that right balance and do what needs to be done for people with disabilities.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Thank you. Great that you have brought up this change in mindset, all of you have mentioned this. We don't want accessibility to be seen as a legal risk issue within an organization. We want it we want the standards and the discussion of accessibility to spur innovation. So I would put the question to all of you, how do we encourage that moving forward, that innovation that's so necessary within the disability and accessibility space when we design the standards, when we design the regulations? And any one of you can.


JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Ask for the moon.

SAMBHAVI CHANDRASHEKAR: I would explain it as like WCAG 2.2. We have been waiting for three and a half years. When it came out as a draft first, one of the things was about you should be able to you should be able to drag without a mouse. Right? Right then and there we created our draganddrop using our mouse. We waited for WCAG 2.2 and it came out and we published our VPAT not the VPAT, I should say WCAG performance checklist. Looking for something that doesn't look very easy will help us work with the people for whom it is difficult. And make that possible. Because the people who really find it difficult are the ones who will be able to show the way, how we can do it.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: That's I love the phrase "ask for the moon". We have certainly seen some of that in the AI space, the GDPR, okay. And we don't like acronyms. Does anybody know, the General Data Protection Regulations, out of Europe actually to some extent did that. They asked for something which everyone said was not yet possible, explainable AI. Since that explainable AI has been asked for, all the technicians said it is not possible. Low and behold, after the GDPR was published, we have many industries that are now looking at how do we make AI explainable. How do we unpack those black boxes. Do you think this is a lesson that we can use in accessibility as well? And asking for the moon within the standards that we're working on?

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: I think another and I think I agree 100%. You have to ask for a lot and rachet down a bit. The key is performance and prescriptive. You have to have a nice blend, which is the power that we have through the act. We don't want to put something into regulation that's going to cause you not to meet the requirement and in the end be in violation. There has to be a way to allow the performance piece with the prescriptive. The solution is working with industry. While they are the committees and go through the steps. Trial it. Take whatever it is that we developed and before we go and say in six months this goes in regulation, let's spend first six months or a year working with industry. And if it doesn't exist, they have time. They have that one gap to kind of get it to work. And if it doesn't work then there is an opportunity for a slight tweak. I agree with you 100%. We have to ask for a lot. For 75, 100 years the accessibility community has been shunned out of everything. You have to ask for a lot. A lot of people look at it and they say why are you asking for a door opener on this place. It is because the designers when they first created the code, we are going to purposefully omit people with wheelchairs from entering a building. We have to make a conscious decision to force them to do it. We are all very bright. The technology is there. The research exists. And if we ask for it because we need it, industry will adopt it and there bring it in.

SAMBHAVI CHANDRASHEKAR: Coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other, we do that.

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: It helps everyone.

MONICA ACKERMANN: Working in a federally regulated organization, advancing accessibility in the organization it really helps to get that roadmap to see what standards are coming. How can we prepare our organization for those standards. How can we for me it is about jumping on opportunities. Say we are having conversations about new technologies that we're introducing in banking. Now customer experiences. Knowing there are these standards that are coming, research that's available that we can infuse into our everyday software development lifecycle or the policies that we are creating. Even though it is not standard or regulation yet, it is helping to inform a much better solution for everyone. And the way that the standards are rolling out I'm finding them very, very helpful. And we approach it a few different ways. Guidance material is always draft standards are always released for public review. Guidance material on meeting those standards and requirements are always released. And we look at in a few different ways our accessibility group staffed by people with disabilities, our employee relations group, our internal communications and compliance teams look at all of that and form a perspective and ask questions. We have industry groups that do this together. The Canadian Banker's Association, we all come together and look to those standards and provide that feedback so that we get kind of an industry perspective and understanding of how our other regulations that apply to in my case the banking sector going to compliment or butt up against accessibility regulations. How do we raise that early, often and then smooth that all out?

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: So another difficult question I guess is, standards and regulations and legal requirements are very slow to move. The public domain is something that needs to be consultative and needs to be consensus, et cetera. And according to Jeffrey West the economic pressure for progress means that the experience in terms of a technology is like jumping from one accelerating escalator to the next and they each are going faster. Of course, coming with that are both opportunities and huge risks. How do we keep up with that? How do we stop trying to catch up and not quite catching up? And what role do you think standards guidance, regulations, and the type of accessibility framework that we're developing in Canada can help with that?

SAMBHAVI CHANDRASHEKAR: I have a question that's brewing in my mind. We know about the Notice for Proposed Rule Making. We have seen the ADA Title II NPRM. Is there a way to get in and continue to ask for feedback and then amend or step back?

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Is that a question to me?

SAMBHAVI CHANDRASHEKAR: Anybody. Because that's the only way that we can move fast, that we can change the standards, change the regulations after they've been passed.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: And I'll I'm the Chair of the session. I'm going to say something anyways. I think there is a lot of wisdom and a lot of innovation in attempting to address accessibility and disability and equity. And I think it is a direction that everyone needs. So part of this I think is to show just how there is a wiser and more sustainable, more equitable direction that we can take by designing things, by changing the mindset, by adopting the type of mindset that we have. There is this notion of the hierarchy of compromise and the hierarchy of justification where the individuals that face the greatest barriers are supposed to compromise the most. When, in fact, those are the individuals that have the greatest constraints. So let's ask the individuals that have the power, that have the influence to make the compromises because they have the greatest resources to do that. Similarly, justification, why do the individuals that are excluded have to provide the greatest justification for the changes they require? I think what needs to happen is the individuals that currently hold the sway should be the ones to justify why things should not be changed. And to continue to change in the direction that is much more equitable. So that was a very philosophical point, but I think there are very, very concrete practice steps towards that. And what we're asking for is not just going to benefit the individuals here in this room or the individuals that we serve. It is going to benefit society as a whole. And that mindset change I think is in line with all of the other crises that we're experiencing, whether sustainability, whether disparity, political fragmentation, polarization. We can tie all of those to the types of attitudes, that people are not giving accessibility and equity. But you can probably say much more about that in a very practical way.

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: I'm going to refer to a graph that you put on the screen during your keynote this morning, this dual splatter graph. It is a very simple solution. When I talk about this I talk about a bell curve. If you take a bell curve and everyone designs for the center part of that bell curve and if you take the concept out, you will get it right. We haven't shifted our mind to think we're designing for that group of people. So once you start thinking that I have to design for these people, it gets changed. So it is it is as simple as that. You have to kind of start saying well, why are you forcing me to do this, is because you are serving the public. The public includes everyone. You don't have to justify beyond your serving the public. Whether in ICT or employment or it doesn't matter what it is. If you are serving the public you have to design for the public. There is no other magic bullet for it. Can we have them adopt little pieces of it? If you go to industry, no offense, thanks. If you go to industry and say we have the standard. Would you voluntarily use most of the standard? Most industries are going to say what's the ROI. It is not going to work. Some people will say it will work but it won't work.

SAMBHAVI CHANDRASHEKAR: I'm from the industry. I do believe that you can do well and do good, do well by doing good. So it is not actually against.

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: It is not against, but I'm saying the regulations helps if you know it is coming and a little bit of an incentive to do it.

MONICA ACKERMANN: We're businesses. I know there has been conversations in other sessions that businesses in order to exist need to earn money. And so as power, the powerful driver is customers. It is customer service. It is having the right employees. So that you are able to offer the services for your customers. That's the compelling story. And what is interesting about this regulation is that yes, there are standards that are I'm gesturing from one hand in sort of like a I won't call it an imposition because I'm excited about it. But they're coming in from one direction but then the whole other piece is the duty to consult. It is the barrier identification and removal. And that comes from people. It comes from employees. It comes from customers. And so you may not be familiar with the Accessible Canada Act, but the challenges that we faced as a federally regulated organization is we would like you to come up with a threeyear plan for accessibility in seven areas. And you don't have standards. You don't have requirements that you are supposed to meet. What you have to do is go out and talk. Go out and hear from people what are the barriers that you are facing. And then analyze yourself. Look inside. How can we remove those barriers. And then come up with a plan. So it's unlike any regulation that I have ever encountered. But the storytelling part is the one that is going to move the hearts, minds, the culture, impact the business, and in the end I think release to your point the money to do the work in the area and to start injecting it into many more of the decisions about how we design our technologies. How we procure it and design our services.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: And we committed that we would leave at least the last 15 minutes and I'm a I have already gone into that for questions and discussion with the audience. Okay.

Hello. My name is Jonathan. I work at the U.S. Department of Labor. So south of the border. And something we've been really excited about to see coming from Ottawa has been the Enabling Accessibility Fund or the way the Canadian federal government funds accessibility projects throughout Canada. And my question is, how has the EAF worked, which I know proceeds some of the other work that you have been discussing, how has that fed into the development of these Accessibility Standards?

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Stephanie, would you like to respond to that?

STEPHANIE CADIEUX: Yeah. You are right, the act does or the fund proceeds the act. And the Government and provincial Governments in our country have made investments in improvements to accessibility for a long time. And there are good projects and good things. And it is necessary in some cases for sure. But I think it is also something we have to be cautious with. And the reason I say that is if organizations are only going to become accessible, think about accessibility, and shift their mindset to include everyone, if they get money in Government to do it, it is not going to happen. We really have to have that cultural society wide reckoning with this. And a decision that yes, every person needs to be able to be here, wherever that here is. We have to get away from othering disability and say that those people and we will get to it when we have time and money. No. People with disabilities are 22% of every market segment, every part of society, every group, every family. We have to shift our thinking to realize that it is important everywhere all the time. And it has to be done from the beginning. And that's that is why the act came after, you know, consultations with people with disabilities across the country saying what what do you need. Why that conversation started with them, and why the act regulates that organizations now like Scotiabank, like the Department of Fisheries, has to include those conversations with people with disabilities right from the beginning to figure out what are the barriers and what do we have to do. It is not a one size fits all. Disability is not one size fits all. Accessibility is not one size fits all. There is a role certainly for a fund like the EAF and it does good things. Sometimes projects that are funded spur on other things. Definitely have an impact. And we're constantly learning. And that's important. But I certainly wouldn't want to suggest that that's the way we get to accessibility.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Yeah. And in terms of ROI I think there is a shift to full environmental costing. And I think there needs to be a shift to full social costing as well. Because many of the ROI formula do not take into account the costs of not doing this. And I think that definitely needs to enter into the spreadsheet regarding the ROI. 
 So we have another question.

PINA D'INTINO: Hi. My name is Pina D'Intino from Aequum Global Access. Thank you all for the panel discussion and it is very, very interesting. So having had the opportunity to work on the Ontario for Disability Act where we worked on standards for ICT and employment, we recognized back then from some perspectives the advocacy groups would say or 2025 is so far away. And we need this sooner. And the businesses were pushing back saying no, we need that time probably even more to get there. And, you know, being now 2023, and we're not quite there in Ontario as we probably all know. But we also see other Provinces coming up with very similar legislation with timelines. I'm kind of curious as to when we think about the Accessible Canada Act and we look at some of the experiences and lessons learned from other regulations across Canada, why do or how do we think the Accessible Canada Act is going to be success more successful in meeting that timeline of 2040, visavi what we have experienced at the provincial level?

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: I'm going to say something controversial. You don't believe in this deadline for accessibility. Accessibility is not something that you fix or that you develop a solution and then you dismiss. It is like washing dishes. It is like doing laundry. It is something that you constantly need to update. You constantly need to attend to. You need to be vigilant about the emerging issues that arise. So I think the deadline is there for those people that need a deadline. I'm as a faculty member I know a lot of students procrastinate a lot and they need a deadline to do something by. That's not when it ends. It is something that constantly needs to be updated. That wasn't a response to your question.

That's fair. And I don't disagree with you on that. I believe disability is a journey. We look at the U.S. and we look at where, you know, it is all about lawsuits. If you are not complying it is all about they already had penalties associated to noncompliance. We haven't seen many penalties applied. There is some need for some enforcement to some degree, right? And the question will be what have we learned from other legislations for the ACA. You know, if we don't want to use enforcement, that's fine. But then how do we make sure it is being done by a certain date or a certain timeline to a certain level to a certain degree.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: I'm fully in support of enforcement. Enforcement of processes is one way to keep up to date.

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: So we watch very closely what's happening in Canada. We also look at what's happening around the world, you know, people put out requirements and standards and regulations, and why do they fail. And we're fortunate enough you have audits in Ontario and we learn from those. We learn what works well and what doesn't work well. I think it is the combination of three entities, I think it is a recipe for success for us because we have enforcement. We have compliance. We have monitoring. And then for us I'll speak more about what we do, we looked at some of the complaints that were coming back. The community was not involved in the decision making, in the consultation. We make sure they are involved throughout the entire process. Doesn't mean that it is going to be 100% successful. But all those things that people have been complaining about we're trying to embed those into the process. It is going to give us a better chance of success. 2040 is a it gives us a target. Our board came back and said your standard will be done by 2033. We recognize that it takes a few years for those standards to get into the mainstream. We have an even more ambitious deadline that we are working.

SAMBHAVI CHANDRASHEKAR: I would like to second what you just said and also qualify what Philip said by saying we do require a deadline but we need a slight change in the words. It is not fully accessible by 2040 but fully prepare for accessibility by 2040. It is a process. It is a journey like some people say. It is it is talking from an industry perspective. It is a process. And we need to be fully prepared to handle that process. Because we don't know how we can define disability. We don't have a certain set of people who we can call disabled because that keeps changing. Technologies keep changing. Everything keeps changing in the world. And the only thing that we know is that we need to be prepared to meet the needs, whatever they are. Whenever they arise. So saying fully prepared by 2040 and laying down some standards for what are those process standards that meet that would be a good way to go.


STEPHANIE CADIEUX: People with disabilities are impatient though and I understand that. Right? They want to see real change, not plans and discussions. And to them, in all of these areas where they have been excluded for so long, having somebody say well, we're not going to be able to do it, to them is concerning. It is just more of the same. And I think what we in order to be a barrier free country, we have to have that culture shift. We have to get to the it is just embedded in how we see things. It is embedded in the conversation that we have when we are embarking on something new. Whether that's a policy, a building, a process. I mean when we when we go to when we go to do something today, the standard there is no standard that says you must do, no regulation. In many cases we don't want that. What's the point of a regulation that can't be enforced, right? We want to change how people think so that they just don't build the barriers in the first place. That they are constantly looking at how will this affect all people. And how can we make sure that all people are included. That's the goal. But I understand why people with disabilities like myself are saying. But like when. When are we going to see this. So there has to be a point where we say we're going to figure out this culture shift over this time. We're going to figure out what does it mean to be accessible. And we're going to bring people along as we go. And that's that's the different Provinces aligning I think, you know, Philip is having conversations with everyone as am I about the need to align when the standards are. And the need for all of those levels of government and the private sector and individuals to come along on the journey. It is about the change that can be created, about rethinking how we approach every aspect of the world.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Pina brought up this notion of the AODA and the provincial efforts. How it is different from what's happening in the U.S. is that the what was stated in law is that doing something inaccessible was a you were not complying with the state. So the burden was not on the person with a disability but the Province that would go after the individuals that had been not following the accessibility guidelines. How do we embed that type of moving the burden from the person who has been wronged, the financial burden, the time, the time, the investment in emotional energy, et cetera, in correcting accessibility issues? And taking it on as a society as a whole? As a Government as a whole?

This is Michael Cooper. I just want to ask a question about strategy for First Nations. Canada is a huge country. Mostly urban. People have access to modern technology. But Canada actually represents the entire globe of privilege. And First Nations in particular are frequently left out of these conversations. I don't know what it means to make content or services accessible in those environments. And so how is this Canada wide strategy addressing that?

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: So I can speak to this standard portion. Working with FirstNation communities, it is very unique. We have a very vast country and we have different geography, different weather patterns. Everything is different depending on where you are in the country when you are talking about northern communities and indigenous communities. We don't have roads and sidewalks up north. We don't have Internet access in some cases. So what we decided to do is have them tell us, put committees in those communities and tell us what works for them. We will come with a workable guide, I don't know if we call it a guide, a workable document that they can use and their bank Councils can implement in whatever way works. We fund research in the communities. We are funding the guides, working documents in those communities. They will be unique in those communities. I was in a community and you go up five stairs, there is no ramp to get into the building. Do you ever have any complaints? The person said we never get any complaints. And I say why is that? We don't have a transit system. People can't leave their home to come here. There is a lot more problems that we have to deal with in these communities than what we have in the cities.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: And Canada to some extent is a test case for the world. We have the greatest diversity in terms of environment, languages, cultures, et cetera. That's one of the reasons why we think we have a responsibility at the moment and we're trying to create a framework that can test case not much of this adventure or journey into accessibility. One of the things we will be doing, we hope to invite you to Montreal in May of 2024, we will have a conference called Accessible Canada, Accessible world. Hope you can join us of how we can create an environment, that mind change that sort of shifts what's required globally to ensure that we're not leaving out the people who are what I call the vital feeler, people at the jagged edge of the human starburst. I know we're over time. But are there any last minute things that each of you want to say we have another question.

I have got two quite short questions. One of the things for European Accessibility Act. We have a review point in 2030, see how legislation is working. That was the first question. Do you have the same? Because it was not clear to me. And a short second question, and that has to do with the authorities monitoring how you are doing within Europe. And we see it happening now, we have to start working with our mandate the Accessibility Act. And we also see discrepancy in the knowledge they have. So we are actually searching to participate together to build. Do you have anything like that in Canada or not?

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: I missed some of the question. I was trying to read it.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: The do we have the equivalent of what's happening in Europe with respect to monitoring and with respect to so the deadlines, et cetera, compliance monitoring, et cetera.

PHILIP RIZCALLAH: If you want to take this or you want me to jump into this?


PHILIP RIZCALLAH: The Provincial Governments are responsible for monitoring what's happening. The federal government, we will be monitoring the banks and airline industry and anything under federal jurisdiction. And that comes through Stephanie's shop. So will be doing the compliance and compliance adherence as well. We do have that mechanism in place. It depends on what entity of Government and jurisdiction will be doing it.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: And we have a big 00 on our time. We are all going to still be here. We would love to answer questions. And perhaps you can ask our panelists whether they have any last thoughts once we are off the stage. Because Francesca is going to chase us away.

FRANCESCA CESA BIANCHI: I want to thank the panelists. So thank you very much to all of you. And a round of applause is needed.


FRANCESCA CESA BIANCHI: Thank you. And we are actually hosting our networking lunch right now from 12 to 1:30. So please come back if you'd like to enjoy a session on AI image gen generated images at 1:30 in the ballroom. 

(Event concluded at 12 p.m. eT)

This text, document, or file is based on live transcription. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.


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