Access by Design: The Plan to Build an Accessible Nova Scotia by 2030
This year, the Canadian province of Nova Scotia began implementing its ambitious plan to ensure accessibility for all its citizens by 2030 – and captions are likely to play a key role.
A key initiative introduced by Nova Scotia’s 2017 Accessibility Act, Access by Design 2030 aims to provide a framework to achieve accessibility across the province, where 30.4% of its just over 1 million population live with a disability – a figure well above the national average of 22%.
Founded with the vision of making the world’s content accessible for everyone, Ai-Media has long supported the expansion of accessibility legislation across the globe. And we’re particularly excited about Nova Scotia’s mission, given it’s a province that many of our voice captioners call home.
In this article, we look at what Access by Design 2030 aims to achieve, how captions are likely to play a key role, and how Canada more broadly is leading the way with progressive accessibility legislation.
What are the goals of Access by Design 2030?
The focus of Access by Design 2030 is to prevent and remove barriers that Nova Scotians with disabilities encounter throughout society.
By working with members of the disabled community, as well as the public and private sectors, the Nova Scotian government’s Accessibility Advisory Board is formulating six standards to help ensure its citizens have equitable access to:
- Buildings and outdoor spaces in which citizens live, work, learn, and play
- Inclusive public and post-secondary education
- Information and communication
- Goods and services
- Transportation within and between communities
In 2018, the Board commenced developing the standards for the built environment and education. Development of standards in the remaining areas commenced in 2021, with one to be developed per year.
Compliance with the standards will be mandatory and the Act contains fines of up to $250,000 for serious instances of non-compliance.
How will captions play a role in Access by Design 2030?
A critical part of the plan involves the standards that will be developed to help ensure Nova Scotians have accessible information and means of communication. These will help ensure all citizens can receive and share the same information.
The Society of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Nova Scotia estimates that the province is home to approximately 58,000 Deaf, Hard of Hearing, deaf-blind and late deafened people – amounting to roughly just under 6% of the population.
Given these numbers, it’s likely captions will play a central role in the yet to be formulated standards. The Nova Scotian government has stated that the Board may consider accessible websites and technologies when formulating the standards, along with traditional accessible formats like braille, American Sign Language or large print.
Nova Scotia joins other Canadian provinces prioritizing accessibility
Nova Scotia wasn’t in fact the first Canadian province to introduce far-reaching accessibility legislation.
In 2005, Ontario passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which aims to make the province barrier-free by 2025. The Act mandates five standards that public, private and non-profit organizations must comply with.
Much like those of Nova Scotia, the standards aim to remove barriers the disabled community encounter when interacting with customer service, information and communications, transport, employment, and public spaces.
In 2013, Manitoba followed Ontario’s lead by passing the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, which aims to make the province more inclusive for everyone by 2023. The Act’s five standards largely mirror those of Ontario, and so far those relating to customer service and employment have become law.
Then in 2019, the Canadian government followed suit by passing the Accessible Canada Act, which aims to make the country barrier-free by 2040. The Act bears similarities with the aforementioned provincial legislation by establishing standards that aim to remove barriers across key aspects of day-to-day life. Non-compliance with the standards can attract a fine of up to $250,000.
How can Ai-Media help you provide accessibility?
Founded in 2003 with the vision of making the world’s content accessible for everyone, Ai-Media offers a range of captioning solutions that can help your organization ensure accessibility for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Visit us online to see how Ai-Media can help you prioritize accessibility with cost-effective, high accuracy solutions that make captioning easy.