Most people are familiar with the wheelchair access symbol which tells people about ramps to get into buildings. They may also know the sign language symbol that tells people that sign language services available or the Braille symbol that tells people they can get documents in Braille. Until recently, there was no access symbol in Canada that represented accessibility for people who have disabilities that affect communication.
In 2014, CDAC developed the communication access symbol that is now used extensively across Canada.
The communication access symbol tells people that communication is a two-way process.
- Involves two people
- Is about interaction
- Is about giving as well as receiving information
- Is about listening and watching
Communication access means that people who have disabilities that their communication can the supports they may need to:
- Understand what others are saying
- Have others understand their messages
- Use the communication methods that work best for them such as speech, gestures, writing, pointing to objects or pictures, spelling words, typing on a communication device or human assistance
- Get the time they need to communicate their messages
- Read and understand your written information
- Use an organization’s website and social media
- Have ways to access telephone services
- Sign your documents and complete forms in ways that are accessible for them
How we developed the Communication Access Symbol
With input from people who have disabilities that affect their communication, we developed the communication access symbol by designing six potential options. We wanted a symbol that the public could easily recognize as meaning “communication”. We asked over 100 members of the public across Canada to tell us what they thought each of the symbols meant. Overwhelmingly, people chose the symbol containing two faces, one talking, both watching and a two-way arrow indicating an exchange or interaction.
Displaying the Communication Access Symbol
We encourage businesses and organizations to display the communication access symbol to show that they:
- Welcome people who have disabilities that affect their communication
- Will give people the time they need to communicate
- Will make every effort to understand what people are communicating
- Will accept the communication method that the person chooses to use