For businesses in Canada that want to ensure their facilities and services are fully accessible, it is important to understand the various accessibility standards and guidelines that exist.
To start off, let us look at the CSA B651. Published by the Canadian Standards Association, CSA B651 outlines accessibility requirements for built environments for facilities and workspaces. It covers things like parking, ramps, corridors, elevators, signage, lighting and more.
- Accessible parking: The standard requires that accessible parking spaces be located as close as possible to the accessible entrance of a building. The spaces must be wide enough to accommodate a vehicle with a side-mounted wheelchair lift, and they must be marked with a sign displaying the international symbol of accessibility.
- Entranceways: The standard requires entranceways to be accessible to people with disabilities, with a minimum clear width of 900mm (35.5 inches). Where there are steps at the entrance, a ramp or lift must be provided. If a ramp is provided, it must be no steeper than 1:12 (8.33%) and be equipped with handrails on both sides. If a lift is provided, it must meet certain requirements for size, controls, and safety features.
- Washrooms: The standard sets out detailed requirements for accessible washrooms, including the minimum number of fixtures required, the size of the stall and door, the height of grab bars and toilet seats, and the location of accessories such as toilet paper dispensers and waste receptacles.
- Elevators: The standard requires that elevators be accessible to people with disabilities, with controls that are easy to reach and operate. The standard also sets out requirements for braille markings on elevator controls and in the elevator car, as well as audible signals to indicate when a floor has been reached.
- Signage: The standard requires that signage be provided in a range of formats, including braille and tactile formats, to ensure that people with visual impairments can access the information they need. The standard also sets out requirements for the size, contrast, and placement of signs to ensure they are easily visible.
- Communication: The standard requires that businesses provide communication supports and assistive devices such as hearing aids, sign language interpreters, and captioning to ensure that people with hearing or speech impairments can communicate effectively. The standard also sets out requirements for the use of plain language and the availability of alternative formats for written materials such as manuals and instructions.
By following these and other standards set by CSA B651, Canadian business owners can help ensure that their workplaces are accessible to people with disabilities, which can improve employee morale, customer satisfaction, and overall business success.
Hiring an accessibility consultant or specialist can help benchmark your current state of accessibility against guidelines and standards and provide recommendations for making improvements.
Contact Accessible Places for a customized accessibility audit and recommendations for how to meet relevant accessibility guidelines and standards to improve inclusivity for all your customers and employees.