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Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms annexed to its Constitution.  Section 15(1) reads:

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

This protection against discrimination includes the right to access for people with disabilities.


Accessibility to television, amongst other broadcasting services, in Canada is covered under Section 3(1)(p) of the Broadcasting Act 1991, which states that "programming accessible by disabled persons should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system as resources become available for the purpose."

Under Public Notices CRTC 2007-54 and CRTC 2009-430, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Canadian communications regulator, has created more accessible television policy than Australia in a number of ways:

  • Canada covers all television access under its public notices, whereas Australia regulates commercial broadcasting and subscription broadcasting
  • Since 2007, under Public Notice CRTC 2007-54, Canada has set captioning levels at 100% of programming, superseding the previous level of 90%
  • Under Public Notice CRTC 2009-430, Canadian broadcasters needed to introduce audio description as a license condition. This followed a long consultation period on audio description.
  • From 1 September 2014, all advertising material, sponsorship messages and promos must be captioned. Canada is, so far, the only country in the world that has introduced rules for the captioning of this content.

In 2007 the CRTC instructed the Canadian Association of Broadcasters to form English-language and French-language working groups to formulate caption quality standards. After draft standards were released for public comment in 2011,the Quality standards for French-language closed captioning were adopted in December 1011, and the Quality standards for English-language closed captioning in July 2012. The standards generally agree, although there are some differences (the English-language standard calls for an accuracy rate of 95% averaged over the program for live captioning, while the French-language standard calls for 85%). Broadcasters must calculate the accuracy of two live-captioned programs per month, and report to the CRTC every two years describing their efforts to improve the accuracy of live captions.

Online media

Canadian Government websites are covered by the Standard on Web Accessibility, replacing the relevant part of the Common Look and Feel 2.0 Standards for the Internet. The Canadian Government notes that 'the Web channel is an important part of the Government of Canada's commitment to multi-channel access and service delivery. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that a high level of Web accessibility is applied uniformly across its Web sites.'

The Standard requires that all  departmental websites which are available to the public must conform to Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.  Exceptions exist for the following:

  • Archived web pages
  • Video content produced exclusively for media re-use
  • Material which the department is not accountable for

The transition is to be finalised by 31 July 2013 in the following phases:

  • Phase I (August 1, 2011 - February 29, 2012)
    • All Web site home pages and pages referenced from Web site home pages
    • Significant number of Web pages that provide the most important information and services for individuals and businesses including rights and benefits
    • Significant number of Web pages that are the most frequently used
    • All new Web pages published post October 1, 2011 must immediately conform
  • Phase II (March 1, 2012 - July 31, 2012)
    • Additional Web pages that provide the most important information and services for individuals and businesses including rights and benefits
    • Additional Web pages that are the most frequently used
  • Phase III (August 1, 2012 - July 31, 2013)
    • Remaining Web pages

The Standard has exempted live video captions, audio description, complex maps, images of text (logos) and video content provided exclusively for reuse by media. It also allows a grace period of 10 days for captioning of pre-recorded video to allow for quick distribution.

The Standard includes a range of reporting and measurement requirements, and makes each department's deputy head responsible for the Standard's implementation.  The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is empowered to monitor compliance, and take action against individual departments in the case of non-compliance.

The Standard is to be reviewed after five years, or earlier if warranted.

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