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Ontario Supporting Accessibility Innovation for Business

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Ontario Supporting Accessibility Innovation for Business

Government Partnering with OCAD to Improve Accessibility for Consumers with Disabilities

Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

Ontario is helping businesses and organizations better understand the needs of people with disabilities, while supporting them with new ideas to make their products and services more accessible.

The government is partnering with OCAD University's Inclusive Design Research Centre to deliver the BIG IDeA, a collaborative pilot program that celebrates successes and promotes innovations in accessibility.

The program features:

  • An interactive website that promotes constructive dialogue between businesses and people with disabilities
  • Badges and toolkits to recognize accessibility leaders and promote best practices that inspire other businesses
  • Map-a-thons, where students and the public can crowd-source updates to apps that map the locations of businesses and rate the accessibility of their services 
  • Design challenges, such as inviting tech companies to teach their "smart" machines--that recognize speech, give advice or make decisions--to be more responsive to people with disabilities.

The BIG IDeA will help make inclusion top of mind for companies--and customers--so that accessibility becomes an integral part of Ontario's culture. By helping companies tap into a broader customer base, it can also help expand businesses and grow our economy.

Helping businesses become more accessible is part of the government's plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is investing $500,000 in the BIG IDeA through the EnAbling Change Program, which supports projects that promote accessibility standards in businesses and organizations.
  • The BIG IDeA is first being piloted in Toronto, and will eventually expand across the province.
  • Major tech companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple, are working within the BIG IDeA to solve accessibility barriers in machine learning models.
  • The BIG IDeA emerged as the leading initiative in an open government engagement process.
  • People with disabilities represent a market worth $25 billion in Canada.
  • With the passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Ontario became an accessibility leader, establishing standards in key areas of daily life and implementing them within clear timeframes.
  • Ontario is developing a Provincial Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities to help connect people to jobs and employers to talent.
  • Businesses and organizations in Ontario with more than one employee must comply with the Accessible Employment Standard. It requires employers to have accessible hiring practices and workplace policies that support staff with disabilities.

Additional Resources

Quotes

Tracy MacCharles

“The BIG IDeA promotes the innovative ways Ontario businesses can serve people of all abilities, which ultimately builds our province’s culture of inclusion. Ontario is a leader in accessibility, and collaborative programs like this are helping us build momentum to reach our goal of being accessible by 2025.”

Tracy MacCharles

Minister Responsible for Accessibility

“Accessibility innovation is a business investment that keeps on giving. The unparalleled returns go well beyond customers with disabilities.”

Jutta Treviranus

Director, Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University

“The Ontario Business Improvement Area Association, on behalf of Ontario's BIAs, continues to champion accessibility across the province. We applaud Ontario for being innovative and forward thinking. The BIG IDeA is a large step towards inclusivity in our communities.”

Kay Matthews

Executive Director, Ontario Business Improvement Area Association

“Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence have the power to transform our lives and to empower every person and organization around the world. It’s crucial that as these technologies develop they are designed to include people with disabilities.”

Jenny Lay-Flurrie

Chief Accessibility Officer, Microsoft

“With machine learning and cognitive technology, we have the opportunity to provide personalized services to people of all abilities.”

Ruoyi Zhou

Director, Accessibility Research, IBM

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