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Improving Accessibility in Tourism

In 2017, Nova Scotia became the third province in Canada to pass accessibility legislation, committing to a more equitable and accessible province. The Province is developing accessibility standards and resources to support the Accessibility Act goal of achieving an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030.  

As the Province of Nova Scotia moves toward this goal, there is much work that can be done to support the tourism industry in identifying, preventing, and eliminating accessibility barriers, so that travellers of all abilities can experience all that Nova Scotia’s tourism industry has to offer.

According to the World Health Organization, 15% (1 billion people) of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. Creating an accessible experience is an opportunity to increase the quality of your services and the enjoyment level for all your visitors. Accessibility is not just a social and legal responsibility; providing an accessible experience to your guests is a viable business decision to enhance your revenues and improve your offering.

Click to open the expandable columns below for more information and resources to help improve accessibility for your employees and customers.
 

Understanding Accessibility Standards Applicable to the Tourism Sector

Accessibility standards for public and private sector entities are being developed in six key areas: goods and services; information and communication; transportation; employment; built environment; and education. As standards and guidelines are developed, we will continue to update the information available for the tourism industry.

Built Environment Standard

These recommendations cover areas such as accessible parking, washrooms, and entrances. The Built Environment Standard Development Committee developed recommendations in two phases:

  • Phase 1 includes general recommendations regarding the Built Environment and has been made public. 
  • Phase 2 includes updating, improving, and introducing new codes and guidelines for these standards.

These recommendations are being used to prepare Nova Scotia’s accessibility standard for the built environment. Accessibility standards will first apply to the Government of Nova Scotia, followed by public sector bodies, and then to the private sector, including the tourism industry.
 

Programs and Funding to Support Accessibility

Provincial Programs

Business ACCESS-Ability Grant Program 

  • Businesses can apply for a cost-shared grant to make accessibility-related improvements. Improvements can be for clients and customers, for employees, or both. 
  • Five Categories of funding:
    • Built Environment
    • Accessible Communications Services
    • Assistive Devices
    • Universal Design Capacity Building
    • Accessible Transportation.
  • Maximum grant available per year is $100,000 and can be applied over multiple categories.
  • 2022/23 Application Deadline: July 29, 2022, future application opportunities will be shared through our newsletter.
  • Contact: Wayne Matheson (wayne.matheson@novascotia.ca), Business ACCESS-Ability Grant Coordinator

Federal Programs

Enabling Accessibility Fund 

  • Provides opportunities for small to medium-sized businesses to receive funding for their built environment projects.
    • Small Projects Component: Provides grant funding for small-scale construction and communication technology projects that improve accessibility in communities and workplaces. Grants can be up to $100,000 per project.
      • Project examples may include:
        • building ramps, accessible doors and accessible washrooms
        • installing screen reader devices and hearing loop systems
        • constructing a universally designed office
        • creating an accessible playground
    • Mid-sized Projects Component: Provides funding for larger construction projects. These projects must offer a holistic suite of programs and services to include persons with disabilities in their communities and the labour market. Contributions can be up to $3 million per project.

      • Eligible projects may include:

        • constructing or renovating centres or hubs that offer programming and services for persons with disabilities in their communities

        • expanding existing centres or hubs that offer programming and services for persons with disabilities in their communities