Nova Scotia Accessibility Act
- What is Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act?
- What are Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Standards?
- What is Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Directorate?
- Website accessibility compliance in the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act
- Who must comply with Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act?
Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act, also known as Bill 59, was passed in April 2017. The legislation aims to make Nova Scotia inclusive and barrier-free by 2030. Nova Scotia was the third province to enact accessibility legislation, after Ontario in 2005 and Manitoba in 2013.
Similar to the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA), the Nova Scotia government is working with people with disabilities, and public and private sector organizations to create six standards for an accessible Nova Scotia. These standards will be drafted in phases and will be available for public consultation before coming into force.
The Government of Nova Scotia is developing accessibility standards in the following areas:
- Goods and Services - ensure that people with disabilities have equitable access to goods and services
- Information and Communications - ensure all people can receive, understand, and share the information they need
- Transportation - make it easier for everyone to get where they need to go
- Employment - make workplaces accessible, and supporting people with disabilities in finding meaningful employment
- Built Environment - make public buildings, streets, sidewalks, and shared spaces accessible to all
- Education - make the education system accessible to all students, from early childhood to post-secondary
The Accessibility Advisory Board has established 2 committees that will help make recommendations on accessibility standards.
- Education Standard Development Committee
The Education Standard Development Committee helps the board make recommendations on the content and implementation of an accessibility standard in education.
- Built Environment Standard Development CommitteeThe Built Environment Standard Development Committee is helping the board make recommendations on the content and implementation of an accessibility standard in the built environment.
Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Directorate is responsible for implementing and administering the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act. They work with persons with disabilities, municipalities, businesses, post-secondary institutions, and community groups to create and prioritize accessibility standards. They are also responsible for addressing broader issues related to disability in Nova Scotia.
In 2018, the Government of Nova Scotia introduced their first multi-year (2018-2021) accessibility plan. The government believes it is important to lead by example and wanted to outline their priorities for accessibility over the next few years.
Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Plan was collaboratively developed with government staff, through discussions with employees with disabilities, and with input from community engagement sessions.
Between 2018 and 2021, the government will prioritize:
- Awareness and capacity building
- Information and communications (including website accessibility)
- Buildings, infrastructure, and public spaces
- Delivery of goods and services
Access by Design 2030 is a framework for how Nova Scotia will achieve its goal of an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030. The strategy was developed through consultation with people with disabilities and their families, organizations that serve people with disabilities, representatives from non-profit, education, health, municipal and business sectors, and the Accessibility Advisory Board.
The identified priorities for achieving an accessible Nova Scotia include:
- Standards Development
- Awareness and Capacity Building
- Collaboration and Support
- Compliance and Enforcement
- Monitoring and Evaluation
- Government of Nova Scotia – Leading by Example
Website accessibility falls under the information or communications barrier, as mentioned in the Accessibility Act. Information and Communications is also one of the six accessibility standards and is a current priority outlined in the Government of Nova Scotia's Accessibility Plan (2018-2021).
The Government of Nova Scotia is currently working on creating a more inclusive, user-centric website. The website will follow the internationally accepted Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 AA). Since the Government of Nova Scotia created their accessibility plan to lead by example for the province, it’s expected that the Information and Communications Accessibility Standard will contain similar website accessibility requirements.
Compliance for organizations or individuals will be specific to each accessibility standard. Those subject to an accessibility standard must comply with it within the specified time period. Those who fail to comply may be subject to a fine of up to $250,000.