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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.

Tourism Accessibly Requirements and Resources

Tourism Nova Scotia (TNS) is collaborating with the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) on an initiative to support the tourism industry to identify, prevent, and eliminate accessibility barriers so that travellers of all abilities can experience everything Nova Scotia’s tourism industry has to offer.

The purpose of this project is to identify what is required of tourism businesses and organizations to achieve the Accessibility Act goal of becoming an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030, and how best to support the industry in meeting those standards. 

There will be a phased approach to “Improving Accessibility in the Tourism Industry”:

Phase 1: Identifying Requirements and Resources (Complete) 

The first phase includes research to understand what will be required of tourism businesses to comply with upcoming accessibility standards, along with identifying what resources are currently available to assist the tourism industry in this area. Download the report.

Phase 2: Examining the Tourism Industry’s State of Readiness (Underway)

Once requirements and current resources have been identified, the project will examine the state of readiness among tourism businesses across the various tourism sectors to meet accessibility requirements. 

Accessibility Tip Sheets & Spotlights were created so businesses identify, prevent and eliminate accessibility barriers, so that visitors of all abilities can experience everything Nova Scotia’s tourism industry has to offer. 

Phase 3: Identifying Gaps and Opportunities

Using information from the first two phases, this phase will identify gaps and opportunities to enhance the tourism industry’s accessibility capacity.

Phase 4: Creation of Tourism Accessibility Framework

A key outcome of this initiative is a Tourism Accessibility Framework. The framework will be an important resource to link tourism businesses with the resources and tools they need to increase their capacity to meet accessibility standards and provide travellers with the information they need to plan their trips. 

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.
  • 2024-25 Application Deadline: February 14, 2024. Future application opportunities will be shared through our newsletter.
  • Contact:

Federal Programs

Enabling Accessibility Fund - Small Projects Component

  • This funding opportunity aims to make communities and workplaces across Canada more accessible for persons with disabilities. It will fund projects that create more opportunities for persons with disabilities to take part in community activities, programs and services, and access employment.
  • Not-for-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, indigenous organizations, municipal and territorial governments can apply.
  • Maximum funding amount is up to $125,000 for a project that is up to 2 years in duration.
  • Application deadline is July 23, 2024, at 3:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).
  • Virtual Information sessions will take place between June 18 and July 10, 2024.
  • Contact: