Appendix- Accessibility Glossary

The terms in this glossary are from the Prescribed Public Sector Body Toolkit, the Online Accessible Events Guide, the NS Post-Secondary Accessibility Framework, and the Education Standard Development Committee’s definitions. It is important to note that the Standard Development Committee (SDC) is not a government document – the SDC is a committee of the Accessibility Advisory Board.

Access by Design 2030[1]
The provincial strategy for implementing the Accessibility Act. Access by Design 2030 provides a roadmap for government, businesses, and communities to work together to eliminate barriers to accessibility and make Nova Scotia accessible by 2030.

Also see the Government of Nova Scotia Accessibility Plan (2018-2021).


The prevention and removal of barriers (physical, attitudinal, technological, or system) to allow equitable participation for persons with disabilities or others who experience barriers to accessibility.

When our environments, services and products and policies are proactively designed and constructed so that people with a disability can fully and equally participate without experiencing barriers. Accessibility ensures people with disabilities are included in the same experiences, benefits, opportunities and choices in life.

Accessibility Act[2]
The provincial law enacted to achieve accessibility by preventing and removing barriers for people with disabilities. The law defines the role and responsibilities of the Accessibility Directorate and the Accessibility Advisory Board, and addresses standards, compliance, and enforcement.

Accessibility Advisory Committee
A volunteer committee established by a prescribed public sector body to advise on identifying, preventing, and eliminating barriers that limit people with disabilities from accessing programs, services, initiatives, and facilities. The committee plays a pivotal role in helping the public sector body become accessible and comply with Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act (2017). At least one-half of the members of the advisory committee must have a disability or represent an organization that represents people with disabilities.

Accessibility Advisory Board[3]
A 12-member provincial board appointed by the provincial government to advise the Minister of Justice on accessibility and make recommendations on accessibility standards. The majority of board members are people with disabilities.

Accessible Customer Service

Ensuring all persons have the same opportunity to seek, obtain,
use or benefit from the service. Accessible services are easy for all people to use, interact with, and understand.

Accessibility Directorate
The provincial body that is responsible for implementing and administering the Accessibility Act, supporting accessibility initiatives and advancing broader disability-related issues. (

Accessible Employer

Reducing and preventing barriers in hiring, retaining, career development and advancement for employees, and addressing employee needs with individualized, flexible accommodations.

Accessibility lead(s)
Staff appointed by a prescribed public sector body to support the work of the Accessibility Advisory Committee in developing and implementing the accessibility plan. The accessibility lead(s) also liaise with the public sector body’s senior management and staff.

Accessibility Services

Programs, services, processes, and policies related to assistive technology, accessibility accommodations, assessment processes, communication services, transition planning, and others that ensure access to learning and learning communities.

Alternative (alt) Text
Alt text describes images and other graphics in documents or on websites. Blind or low-vision individuals use alt text to describe these images and to give context as to why the image is there. The alt text is picked up by their screen readers. Alt text descriptions should be short and include essential information that conveys what an image looks like and means.

American Sign Language (ASL)
American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, complex, visual language. It uses hand movements as well as facial expressions and body movement to convey information. ASL is a language of access; it evolved out of a need for people with different hearing levels to access spoken communication and connect with fellow community members. ASL is not a universal language; each country has its own sign language, and regions have dialects, the same way many languages spoken all over the world do. ASL is used predominantly in the United States and Canada, and, like any language, has its own unique rules of grammar and syntax.

Assistive Technology
Assistive technology is any device, software, service, or product system, including service animals, that reduces individual barriers to accessing and engaging in all aspects of a learning community including social, emotional, academic, and daily living activities and experiences.

Something that makes it harder for some people to participate. Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act defines a barrier as “anything that hinders or challenges the full and effective participation in society of persons with disabilities, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy, or a practice.”

Braille is a tactile system of raised dots used by many people who are blind or partially sighted. Each raised dot arrangement represents a letter or word combination that is read by touch.

CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation)
Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is a type of captioning that provides simultaneous (real-time) speech-to-text translation. It is often used by people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. To produce CART captioning, a certified CART stenographer listens to speech at an event, and types a shorthand of what is being said into a stenotype machine. This machine converts the shorthand back into full words, and displays the text on a screen. If an event is in-person, the text can be displayed on a large screen. If the event is online, it can be embedded into the online meeting software, or a link can be provided to a website where participants can view the text. The CART stenographer can either be onsite, or at a remote location connected to the meeting audio via online meeting software or a room’s telephone/audio system.


A sociological term referring to those individuals who are medically deaf or hard of hearing who identify with and participate in the culture, society, and language of Deaf people, which is based on Sign language[4].

As defined in Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act: “a physical, mental, intellectual, learning or sensory impairment, including an episodic disability that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders an individual’s full and effective participation in society.”

A commitment to fairness. Equitable access is different from equal access. Equality means everybody is treated the same; equity means everybody is treated fairly, based on their needs and abilities.

Government of Nova Scotia Accessibility Plan
A multi-year plan setting specific priorities and commitments for achieving accessibility within the Government of Nova Scotia. The first plan was published in 2018 and covers the years 2018-2021. (

Large Print
Printed material in a font size of 14 points or greater is considered large print. Using an 18-point, sans serif font, such as Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Futura, Univers, or Franklin Gothic, is considered best practice.

Plain language
Clear, conversational communication that makes sense to the intended audience. The goal of plain language is to communicate so clearly that the intended audience can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use the information (

Means “prescribed in the Accessibility Act General Regulations.” The Accessibility Act enables the government to use the regulations to identify which organizations must comply with certain requirements. These requirements include forming an Accessibility Advisory Committee and developing an accessibility plan within one year. The use of the word “prescribed” in legislation is intended to give wide authority for regulations to be made that set down a specific rule or direction.

Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification.

First Voice

First voice perspectives generally refer to the knowledge generated by persons with disabilities and others who experience barriers to accessibility that emerges from lived experience, community connections, knowledge traditions, and scholarly activities that are typically under-valued and under-represented.


The process of improving the terms of participation in society, particularly for individuals or groups of individuals who are disadvantaged or under-represented, through enhancing opportunities, access to resources, voice and respect for rights. This creates a sense of belonging, promotes trust, fights exclusion and marginalization and offers the opportunity of upward mobility and results in increased social cohesion.[6]

Meaningful access

When referring to the built environment, meaningful access is the intent to meet the needs of all users of a site (a building or outdoor space) regardless of their ability. It means that not only individual features of a site, such as an entrance or washroom, must be accessible, but the entire experience throughout.


Neurodivergent means having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal”. It recognizes diverse neurologies and ways of being, as variation of human experience, rather than deficiency in need of remediation or cure. It includes those who identify with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, Tourette’s syndrome, and dyslexia, to name a few.[7]

Resources Used

The Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents & Nova Scotia Community College President. (2020). Nova Scotia post-secondary accessibility framework [PDF].

Education Standard Development Committee. (2020). Recommendations to the Government of Nova Scotia on accessibility standards in education: Phase 1 [PDF]. Recommendations submitted to Accessibility Advisory Board.

Nova Scotia Accessibility Directorate. (2019). The accessibility planning toolkit for prescribed public sector bodies [PDF].

Nova Scotia Accessibility Directorate, and Department of Justice. (2021). Guide to planning accessible online meetings and events [PDF].

Province of Nova Scotia. (2018). Access by design 2030: Achieving an accessible Nova Scotia.

  1. Province of Nova Scotia. (2018). Access by design 2030: Achieving an accessible Nova Scotia. 
  2. Province of Nova Scotia (2017). Accessibility Act.
  3. Nova Scotia Accessibility Advisory Board. (n.d.). Accessibility Advisory Board. Retrieved May 13 from
  4. Canadian Association of the Deaf (n.d.). Definition of "Deaf". Retrieved May 17 from
  5. Rick Hansen Foundation. (n.d.). Professional training. Retrieved April 13 from
  6. Nova Scotia Community College. (2019). Educational equity policy.
  7. Scorgie, K. & Forlin, C. (2019). Promoting Social Inclusion: Co-Creating Environments that Foster Equity and Belonging. P. 153.


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