Canada’s House of Commons approves Senate version of Accessible Canada Act with ASL/LSQ/ISL recognition

Last night the Canadian House of Commons approved and passed the Senate’s amended version of Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, that included an amendment to officially recognize ASL, LSQ, and ISL.

CAD/ASC President Frank Folino announced it in a joyful LIVE video outside of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario.


I want to announce a historical moment. Bill C-81, from the Senate, which was amended and proposed before the House of Commons, passed! Yeah! The next step is what? Royal Assent. Then it’ll become law. It’s very soon. It’s historical to get recognition of ASL, LSQ, and ISL as the primary languages of Deaf people across Canada. This means it is your right to communicate in sign language. It’s historical moment!

Alex: The final step is a Royal Assent, which is when a bill is officially adopted as law, which could happen in the next two weeks.

The Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Carla Qualtrough, spoke before the House of Commons to advocate for the ACA and to acknowledge ASL/LSQ/ISL recognition.


I have heard the strong calls of recognizing the sign language to the Deaf community in Canada. Bill C-81 was to recognize American Sign Languages and Indigenous Sign Language as a primary languages for deaf persons in Canada. I would like to acknowledge Mr Speaker we have interpreters on the Parliament today. (Applause, people say “Hear, Hear)

There was a part where a MP, Nick Whalen, asked about sign language recognition. Here is a video clip.

[Video clip — source, with captions:]

Folino told “The Daily Moth” that this recognition gives “the human rights for Deaf person where their sign languages is the first language that can be used through accessibility to information, communication, and services in their sign languages from two spoken languages: English and French.

Deaf activist and leader Lisa Anderson told “The Daily Moth” that “she was proud to be there as part of the four-year journey as the public process began with consultations across the country.”

For Deaf Canadian activists, this is a huge achievement and something that they have fought for many months. Last fall, about 3,000 rallied across the country for this recognition.

They had a big setback several months ago when the House of Commons passed their version of C-81 without the sign language recognition in it. Folino and other leaders shifted their focus on the Senate and after his testimony before a Senate committee on May 1st, senators agreed to amend ASL, LSQ, and ISL recognition. It was then approved in a full Senate vote, and now it’s cleared the House of Commons.

The ACA bill aims to have a significant impact on the lives of not only Deaf people, but for all disabled people at the federal level. It aims to identify, remove, and prevent accessibility barriers in federal jurisdiction.

This means the ACA bill is not exactly the same as the Americans with Disabilities Act here in the U.S., because the ADA applies to all businesses and organizations, whether they are government entities or not.

The ACA changes won’t be overnight, as the bill has to be fully implemented by 2040, more than 20 years later.

Folino and Anderson, told “The Daily Moth,” that the original ACA bill had no timeline and they were able to push for a 2040 “deadline.” They said the words, “without delay,” was added to the legislation to make sure the work begins immediately.

They said there will be an organization called the CADSO that will work to set up accessibility standards without delay.

I asked them what their response was to criticism that the ACA bill was weak and does not have teeth in enforcing agencies to comply.

They said the next step would be establishing regulations and that they will be in force 2 years after the Royal Assent. They said regulations have the force of law and all federal jurisdictions and the federal-regulated private sector must abide by the regulations.

They said the Accessibility Commissioner can establish compliance and enforcement measures and impose monetary penalties.

So, congratulations to the CAD/ASC, Indigenous Deaf leaders, and the greater Canadian Deaf community on getting this recognition.

Folino Announcement:

Moth Coverage of Fall 2018 ASL/LSQ/ISL Rallies:

Folino Testimony:

Clip with Nick Whalen:

Entire Debate: