Developing an inclusive Canadian innovation accessibility digital communication strategy

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 06/22/2016







The digital economy is driving economic prosperity through increased productivity and market growth,, but the ability to use new emerging technologies is currently at the heart of social inclusion, with those excluded being left out of many work, entertainment, communication, healthcare and social benefits. About 15% of the world's population live with a disability, and the prevalence of disability is growing due to population ageing and the global increase in chronic health conditions.In 2005, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in Canada, and a world leader in implementing proactive, enforceable, compliance-based accessibility legislation. The standards requireOntario organizations to identify, remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities in key areas of daily living. Fundamentally, accessibilityis about expanding market opportunities to achieve sustainable growth in revenue, return on investment, and profitability; And not just about legal compliance. Due to the life challenges, people with disabilities tend to be creative thinkers and problem solvers in innovation technologies. Many of the mainstream technologies we enjoy today were initiated by research and development in resolving a disability challenge.Unfortunately, much of the digital communication systems being implement throughout Canadian organizations is inaccessible to blind and deaf Canadians. This is revealed in statistics that show more than 80% of Canadians with vision loss are unemployed, and about 25% live below the poverty line. To reverse this trend we need greater participation of skilled blind professionals in the decision making process of government strategies that will build a more prosperous Canada. Currently Canadian digital communication strategies present barriers in the participation of Canadians with disabilities.We need an integrated accessibility growth strategy that link the Ministries of Innovation, Employment, Infrastructure, and Persons With Disabilities. We need competent and well informed leaders, who understand the impact of digital communications on the quality of life for all Canadians. We need a prosperity strategy that maximizes the skills of disabled Canadians, and promotes greater inclusion. We need to enable Canadian innovators by stimulating creativity, and enable disabled Canadians by getting smart technologies into their hands as soon as possible.

Comments »

Sandy Feldman by Sandy Feldman

A prosperity strategy that maximizes the skills of disabled Canadians could benefit all of us. Innovation funding and support should include a requirement that the funded projects not lock anyone out.

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Mike Gifford by Mike Gifford

Great point David. Thanks for raising this as a concern for innovation. There's a demand for talent in the world. How could it be acceptable to exclude people people they have physical limitations because we haven't built our computer infrastructure to accommodate them. The internet was intended to be the great equalizer, but in our chase for the latest shiny, flashy thing we have overlooked this important goal. With systems thinking we can make quick gains to improve accessibility for many more Canadians. We need to be using open-source software, contributing upstream and engaging people with disabilities to help create better solutions.

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Penny Leclair  Penny Leclair 
Well written David. I would like to point out that deaf-blindness is a separate disability and not covered by stating blind and deaf. This is important and for myself, as a person who is deaf-blind, innovative active and informed, I appreciate it when the specific disability is mentioned. Training is one component missing from your idea,. Thanks again for taking the time to share this idea on behalf of persons with disabilities.