Supporting innovative solutions for accessibility to broadcasting content in Canada

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund

As broadcasting content becomes widely available across many platforms – televisions, computers, phones – it is critical to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with the practical and technical means to access this content.

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund) was established for this purpose.

The first of its kind in the world, the Fund is an independent and impartial funding body that will provide grants for innovative projects that will advance accessibility to broadcasting content in Canada.

The Fund anticipates that project proposals will address a range of accessibility needs, and encourages project submissions from a variety of applicants. Those that propose new technologies and applications are expected to employ inclusive design, which sees accessibility built in at the earliest possible stage of its development.

The Fund will support projects that work to advance accessibility to content across all platforms, and contribute to a model for innovation that will establish Canada as an international leader in broadcasting accessibility.

Our CEO/Funding Officer works in close collaboration with the Board of Directors, and in particular with a Grant Committee of the Board that will review all funding applications and make recommendations to the Board for final approval of projects.

The Fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with BCE’s acquisition of CTVglobemedia. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M.

The Fund has completed four cycles of grant awards, supporting 24 projects with a total of $2.5M of funding committed to addressing ongoing gaps in broadcasting accessibility.

Grants are provided incrementally, based on the progress of a project, and are tied to binding Project Management Agreements negotiated by the Fund and the grant recipient.

Grant recipients are required to provided financial reporting, and abide by the Fund’s established criteria for the appropriate use of all monies.

As the Fund is public in nature, grant recipients are contractually required to share the results of their work, and provide non-proprietary access to software and other products resulting from initiatives supported by the Fund.

To learn more about the projects the Fund has supported, see our completed and continuing projects via the following links below (available as an interactive PDF or a screen-reader accessible document).

PDF version: Presentation - Meeting the Challenge - Appendix of Projects.pdf

Accessible version: Presentation - Meeting the Challenge - Appendix of Projects.doc

 

What's Happening

The Fund announces four new projects in the sixth round of grant funding!

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund) announced today that it will award $398 016 in grants to four new, innovative projects designed to advance accessibility to broadcasting content.  To learn about these new projects, read the full Press Release here: https://www.baf-far.ca/en/news-releases

To date, the Fund has provided $3.7M over six rounds of funding committed to addressing ongoing gaps in broadcasting content accessibility. You can read about the projects we’ve funded and the results they’ve achieved: Presentation - Meeting the Challenge - Appendix of Projects.pdf

The Fund congratulates this round’s grant recipients and is excited to work with these groundbreaking leaders in broadcasting accessibility in the coming months! Stay tuned for the Fund’s announcement of the next Call for Letters of Intent, the first step in our application process, in February 2021.

 

Bill C-10 – Proposed Amendments to the Broadcasting Act

On November 3, 2020 the government introduced its package of proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Act, Bill C-10, to the House of Commons. The Bill proposes to modernize Canadian broadcasting legislation by including “online undertakings” such as Netflix and other streaming services in the Act, and requiring these players to fairly contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system.

Importantly, the proposed legislation would update the Broadcasting Act to better reflect and support Canadian diversity and inclusion. As a core element of this, the Act would mandate that programming be accessible “without barriers” to persons with disabilities. Overall, the proposed legislation would require that the system as a whole serve the needs and interests of Canadians with diverse abilities and disabilities.

The CRTC will play a pivotal role in establishing new conditions of service for online and traditional broadcasters once the legislation passes through Parliament. The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund looks forward to continuing our work with government, the regulator and all stakeholders in advancing and fulfilling the promise of Bill C-10.

We will keep you updated on developments! You can locate a summary of Bill C-10 prepared by Canadian Heritage at the following link: Canadian Heritage – Bill C-10 Summary and the text of the draft legislation via: https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-2/bill/C-10/first-reading.

 

COVID-19

The Board of Directors and staff of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund) extend thoughts for good health and safety to all stakeholders, supporters and project personnel during this very troubling time.

The Fund has been and is continuing to be in full operation, as our operating model has been virtual since the beginning of our work in 2014. Like other organizations we are shifting meetings, project discussions and other events to safe confines. Most projects that are currently in the field are continuing to meet their deliverables on schedule, with only a small number realigning workplans to accommodate partnerships and collaborative efforts as work continues remotely.

We anticipate that our schedule for applications, new projects and a new round of funding will continue along the established timeframe through 2020 and into 2021.

Once again, best wishes to all as we move safely forward beyond the pandemic.

 

Follow the Fund on Twitter!

You can now follow real-time updates from the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund on Twitter. Follow @Broadcast_Fund, and stay on top of the latest news!