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EN 301 549—a European ICT accessibility standard—adopted as a National Standard of Canada

Accessibility in Canada: A Step Forward with ICT Standards

On May 31, 2024, Canada has taken a significant leap in promoting accessibility with the adoption of the European standard EN 301 549:2021 for ICT.

This move by Accessibility Standards Canada (ASC) marks a milestone in the nation’s commitment to creating a barrier-free environment for all citizens, particularly those with disabilities.

A National Standard for Inclusivity

The standard, now released as CAN/ASC – EN 301 549:2024, sets forth accessibility requirements for a wide range of ICT products and services, including hardware, software, mobile applications, websites, and biometrics. It aligns with best practices used by over 30 countries and is available free of charge, reflecting Canada’s dedication to accessibility

Encouraging Broad Adoption

By making this a National Standard of Canada, ASC aims to encourage its widespread adoption. This voluntary standard is already in use by some federally regulated organizations and provinces, and its broader implementation will further advance ICT accessibility across the country.

Read the newly adopted national standard:
CAN/ASC – EN 301 549:2024 Accessibility requirements for ICT products and services (EN 301 549:2021, IDT)

(Download the PDF version)

“The standard supports the goals of the Accessible Canada Act, Accessibility Standards Canada’s mandate and the realization of a Canada without barriers by 2040.” accessible.canada.ca

The Accessibility Canada Act and the Role of Accessibility Standards Canada

Accessibility canada act

The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) is a federal law that aims to make Canada barrier-free by 2040 for persons with disabilities. It applies to federal government and organizations it regulates. It came into force in 2019.

The ACA applies to a wide range of federally regulated entities, including departments, agencies, crown corporations, Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP, First Nations band councils, Parliament, and industry sectors (banking, telecommunications and transportation).

Accessibility standards canada

Accessibility Standards Canada, a Government of Canada departmental corporation created by the Accessible Canada Act, is responsible for creating and reviewing accessibility standards that apply to the federal government and federally regulated entities.

Key takeaways

  • EN 301 549 is a European standard that outlines accessibility requirements for ICT products and services, such as web content, software, hardware, electronic documents, and more. It draws heavily from WCAG 2.1, a set of guidelines for web content accessibility, but includes additional requirements that apply to other ICT domains.
  • Accessibility Standards Canada has adopted this standard and made it a National Standard of Canada.

Useful resources