- A National Partnership Led by Carleton University
Carleton University is establishing the Canadian Accessibility Network (CAN) to lead a national partnership in advancing accessibility for persons with disabilities through Research, Design and Innovation, Education and Training, Policy, Employment, and Community Engagement.
Accessibility is one of the key strategic goals for Carleton University in our Strategic Integrated Plan. It is a priority for many other postsecondary institutions, community partners, provincial jurisdictions, and, with the passing of the Accessible Canada Act, the Federal Government. The number of Canadians identifying with a disability is increasing due to a more inclusive representation of different disabilities including nonvisible categories, and the progress in our society toward greater understanding and reduced stigma to self-disclose. At all age levels, persons with disabilities benefit from advances in accessibility of built environments, products, and services, including our aging population. This is an opportune time to mobilize the many potential partners dedicated to issues of accessibility across Canada and build on the momentum of the Accessible Canada Act to create the Canadian Accessibility Network.
We are positioning Carleton University as the most accessible postsecondary institution in Canada and the hub for the Canadian Accessibility Network (CAN). We have broad interdisciplinary research partnerships in accessibility and disability, exemplified by Carleton’s own research partnership network representing four Faculties. Our student disability service, the Paul Menton Centre, has been referred to by the press as the gold standard. The 24/7 attendant services in the residence and the underground tunnel system connecting all buildings on campus is one of a kind in the world. Our unique mental health supports, such as the research-based FIT-Action and the award-winning Student Mental Health Framework, ensure access to higher education for students with mental health challenges. Research shows our faculty espouse positive attitudes in accessibility but also practice inclusive pedagogy. Since 2012, Carleton’s READ Initiative – Research, Education, Accessibility, and Design – worked to bring together faculty, staff, and students across the university with community partners to advance the accessibility agenda through innovation, research, employment, and education.
“Carleton has a culture of accessibility”
Alfred Spencer, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario,
Ministry of Economic Development,
Employment and Infrastructure
Out of Carleton’s culture of accessibility grew the desire to bring together the various accessibility initiatives, partners, and resources. In collaboration with Carleton faculty, staff, and students, the READ Initiative mobilized our collective potential to advance the accessibility agenda with our campus community and external partners. Canadian Accessibility Network is the next step in these efforts, with READ as its operational hub. The network approach with a centralized Head Office, along with potential Regional Offices, will ensure a focused, strategic approach with leadership and coordination to maximize assets of the partnership and lead to systems-level change and cultural shift.
CAN will advance accessibility nationally in the following key areas:
Carleton University is one of many organizations in Canada invested in accessibility. By leveraging strengths of individual stakeholders within a network of partnerships, we are creating collective capacity that is multisectoral and sustainable. Carleton University with a well-earned reputation in accessibility is perfectly positioned to lead the Canadian Accessibility Network (CAN). As the landscape of Canadians with disabilities evolves, the focus on accessibility for all becomes a priority – a national priority represented by the new Accessible Canada Act. Through CAN we intend to help realize our national vision for a more accessible and inclusive Canada.