National Accessibility Week


In honour of National Accessibility Week, we celebrate the valuable contributions of those PR and communications professionals in the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), disability, and belonging spaces towards a more inclusive society. This year’s theme is “Forward Together: Accessibility and Inclusion for All”. What does this mean for public relations and communications professionals? 

By practicing and upholding principles of accessibility and inclusion in communications and PR, we enable and open the door for: 

  • the valuable contributions and leadership of persons with disabilities in British Columbia and Canada.

  • the work of allies, organizations and communities that are removing barriers. 

  • ongoing efforts to become a more accessible and disability-inclusive Canada. 

Inclusive communications have changed how we communicate, work, and live for the better. Progress has been made, but a lot more needs to be done. 

Forward for accessible communications 

Accessible and inclusive communications becoming more common in our everyday work or play, whether captioning on calls, meetings and conferences, producing high contrast collateral materials, including alt-text on images, and creating purposeful neurodiverse-friendly environments, for both people with visible and invisible disabilities.  

Inclusive communications also include considerations for the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. 

This is where we continue to learn and act on the inclusion and participation in society with full support of public, non-profit, and private organizations, and individuals. 

Accessibility is not just limited to people with disabilities/disabled people, but benefits everyone as a result. 

Realizing a barrier-free society through communications and PR 

Federal and provincial governments have now mandated public organizations to be fully accessible by 2040 federally, and provincial compliance across all publicly mandated organizations, including cities, towns, libraries, schools, Crown Corporations, regional districts, etc. that began in 2023. 

Regarding guiding to implementing the Accessible Canada Act, there are 7 priorities identified of which include delivery through communications and communication technologies:  

  1. employment 

  1. the built environment 

  1. information and communication technologies 

  1. communication (other than information and communication technologies) 

  1. the procurement of goods, services, and facilities 

  1. the design and delivery of programs and services 

  1. transportation  

Standards under development that correspond to PR and communications work include:  

  • Wayfinding and signage, including colour, contrast, and font size. 

  • Plain language for publication and sharing collateral and information.

  • Modes of delivery of information that leads to accessibility in public engagement.  

  • Employment of people with disabilities with lived experiences in the workplace with whom may provide expert insights into communications delivery. 

  • Emergency measures – tactics to use for inclusion of people with disabilities/disabled folks in the event of emergencies. 

  • Existing built environment, adapting communications and PR public engagement work in spaces to include those with lived experiences. 

  • Design and delivery of services, including in travel, tourism, public transport, housing, procurement, health, and more. 

 Similarly for organizations in British Columbia, provincially mandated organizations are required to present a accessibility plan which centre around these principles: 

  • Inclusion 

  • Adaptability 

  • Diversity 

  • Collaboration 

  • Self-determination 

  • Universal design 

 The provincial government has also identified that the Accessible B.C. Act will help remove barriers to learning and communications. These changes and standards being developed are not just accessible but improves business outcomes by way of communications and public relations.  

 Why it’s still important 

We set the tone and example as PR and Communications professionals for all seeking to share information or to engage in external and internal engagement processes. CPRS is a bar standard for many organizations to follow. By including, accommodating people with both visible and invisible disabilities through best practices and communications planning, we create a positive and healthy effect on society as a larger whole. 

 Inclusive tactics matrix for communicating with people with disabilities in PR and communications 



Colour contrast 

Accessible fonts & sizes 

Audio descriptions 




Speech pacing and clarity 

PDF remediation 

Image descriptions 


As presented at the 2021 CPRS National Conference, this consideration matrix is helpful when including people with disabilities/disabled people when planning communications campaigns, product deliveries, collaterals, announcements, events, or engagement in stakeholder processes at any phase – but recommended at the start. 

 The matrix can be interpreted as separate categories or a combination depending on the needs required: 

Captioning and sign language 

Often considering delivery of services and information originally did not include those who are d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing, this is beneficial for audiences in live and virtual events, videos, and captioning alone improves Search Engine Optimization results online. 


Also known as the text of the blind and low vision, this can be important to include those who receive information through tactile or haptic means. 

 Colour contrast 

Intended for those with low vision, perceptive disabilities, and to prevent undue stress in perception of colours. 

Accessible fonts and sizes 

Often complements colour contrast, fonts enable those with low-vision or other perceptive disabilities to read comfortably. 

Audio description 

For the blind and those who rely on their remaining senses other than vision to comprehend and understand described videos and podcasts. 


For those with physical disabilities, space is important to allow airflow in a room when in engagement processes or events where large congregations of people are involved. 


Some folks may be either be sensitive to light in physical settings, or lack of lighting may cause complications to navigation. 


Autistic folks, hard of hearing people and folks with sensitivity to sound may require less noise or sound-proofed spaces to fully participate in events, conferences, and engagement processes. Some may also require captioning to help process speech in tandem. 

Speech pacing and clarity 

Related to sound, speech pacing and clarity are often critical to the participation and delivery of information especially to d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing people depending on speed, clarity, and enunciation. Captioning and/or sign interpretation may also be needed to assist. 

PDF Remediation 

Remediating PDFs enable screen readers for the blind to “read” information to their users in the consistent and clearest way possible. It also helps those with vision disabilities read with ease in a logical format. 

Image descriptions and alt-text 

To support those who are blind and low-vision, both image descriptions and alt-text are vehicles to understanding imagery, graphics, and embedded objects in documents. 



Article written by Gent Ng