READ Initiative priorities are developed in response to requests from within the Carleton community and from organizations and individuals concerned with accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities in Ottawa and beyond.  Subscribing to the READ Newsletter is your window into accessibility priorities at Carleton University.


Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA)

2031 Innovative Designs for Accessibility competition finalists pose for the camera at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery conference.The Council of Ontario Universities launched the IDeA contest in 2012 with funding from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. Undergraduate students across the province are invited to submit their ideas for innovative and cost effective solutions to accessibility issues based on the barriers identified in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) including attitudinal, systemic/organizational, technology, communication and physical environment. Carleton students have led the province in the first two years of the competition. In 2012, four or the eight finalists were Carleton students and the first and second place prizes were won by Carleton. This year Carleton students represented five of the nine finalists and swept the top three prizes!  Please check out the READ website to view our student’s projects.

We are very proud of our students and of their willingness to apply their knowledge, skill and enthusiasm to improving accessibility and access for persons with disabilities

2014 International Summit on Accessibility

The READ Initiative is organizing a series of meetings with key leaders in the Carleton community, the City of Ottawa and the Ontario Ministry responsible for the implementation of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) to develop strategies that will move Carleton University and the City of Ottawa toward the level of accessibility envisioned in the AODA legislation. As a result of these discussions, READ is pleased to announce that Carleton will host an International Summit on Accessibility, July 12 – 15, 2014. The 2014 conference planning group has been established with Carleton’s Associate Vice President, Students and Enrollment, Suzanne Blanchard and Assistant Vice President, Facilities Management and Planning, Darryl Boyce, as co-chairs. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has committed $25,000 as part of the conference plan development during this fiscal year and both the City of Ottawa and the Province of Ontario have appointed a representative to the conference planning committee.

Golding Rehabilitation Centre – Jamaica

December 2012 Golding Rehabilitation Centre Meeting. In the photo are: Their Honours, David and Ruth Onley, Anthony Hylton, Mark Wafer, Tim Hortons, Deni Jankovic, Brendan Caldwell, Dean Mellway, Royson James, Consul General Dr. George Ramocan & Dr. Lola Ramocan, Dr. Geoff Fernie and Joe Dale.

Carleton’s READ Initiative was recently invited to accompany the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable David C. Onley, a multi-disciplinary team including Dr. Geoff Fernie, Director of the iDAPT Centre at the University of Toronto and representatives of Mike Holmes ‘Make it Right’ Foundation on a planning mission to Jamaica to develop a plan to rejuvenate the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre in Mona.

The initial meetings were highly successful, leading to a commitment from the University of West Indies Mona Campus to take over administration of the Golding Centre and develop a Rehabilitation Medicine academic program as part of their established medical school. Plans have also been drawn up for a major build involving the Holmes organization with the potential for a ground-breaking as early as December 3, 2013 in conjunction with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

As a result of this meeting, Carleton (through the READ Initiative) established a relationship with UWI Mona supporting their interest in becoming more a more accessible campus as well as establishing themselves as leader in accessibility for the English speaking Caribbean. We initiated that aspect of our involvement by hosting two key members of UWI’s administration, the Registrar, Dr. Camille Bell-Hutchinson, and Director of Student Services, Ms. Rose Cameron, at Carleton University from May 14 – 19, 2013. Their visit was very productive and will likely lead to an MOU for future student exchanges. We have also applied for a two week administrative visit for Ms. Cameron in September through a federal grant administered by Carleton International. During our visit to UWI Mona, we also noted that they have recently initiated a relationship and created an India Centre.

The second aspect of our involvement relates to the design, development and distribution of equipment for persons with disabilities in the developing world. Through the relationship that READ and the School of Industrial Design has with Dana Douglas Inc., a major manufacturer in the medical equipment sector, we were able to negotiate an equipment donation to the Golding Rehabilitation Centre in Jamaica of 1200 new Rollator walkers, a gift worth approximately $500,000.00.

CanUgan and Industrial Design

The Harambee project hand-propelled tricycle on display, with accompanying information display board.The READ Initiative, in collaboration with the CanUgan Project and Carleton’s School of Industrial Design, has just completed IDRC funded research led by Bjarki Hallgrimsson, Acting Director of the School of Industrial Design. The project involved four fourth year industrial design students in product development with the CanUgan Project, developing hand propelled tricycles and other products for persons with disabilities in the Kasese District of Uganda. The students traveled to Kasese District, Uganda in February 2013. This multifaceted project was awarded 2nd place in the IDeA student competition.

Carleton Access Network

We have approached renowned consultant and speaker in the field of accessible information, David Berman, to join READ as Chair of our first working committee, which we are calling the Carleton Access Network. David, who is special advisor to the UN on issues of web accessibility, has partnered with READ to host full day workshops on the new web accessibility standards and provided opening remarks at the THATCamp – Accessibility unconference on October 27th. Building the Carleton Access Network is a major priority for the READ initiative. We hope to create a cultural shift at Carleton, where creating accessible documents and web sites becomes the norm. This spring we are developing an online version of David’s full day workshop through a series of half hour webinars. Our goal is to provide web and document content training to staff and Students in all Carleton departments and faculties.

Employment Initiatives

Employment for persons with disabilities is emerging as a major focus both nationally and provincially, as witnessed by the federal announcement of the creation of the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, the release of the Report on Equality Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the Canadian Human Rights Council and the announcement that the Province of Ontario Accessibility Directorate will be creating industry/community/university partnerships to pilot approaches to support the transitions of students with disabilities into the workplace. Our contacts at the Council of Ontario Universities have recommended Carleton for inclusion in the pilot.

Thanks to a direct referral from Hon. David Onley, we have begun the process of developing a relationship with Lime Connect, a leading North American organization in the field of employment for persons with disabilities. The President of Lime Connect, Susan Lang, visited Carleton on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 from their head offices in New York, along with their Canadian Relationship Manager, Karen Kelsey. The presentation was well received by staff and students and was the first step in an ongoing relationship.

We are developing a standing committee on employment with representation from Career and Co-op Services, the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities, the Department of Human Resources and the READ Initiative.

Para-triathlon Academy

Group photo of enthusiasts at the National Paratriathalon Academy launch, including members of Paratriathalon Canada, government officials, Carleton University representatives and Canadian Paralymic Committee representatives.One of the developments arising from the Paralympic Sport Festival held last fall is a relationship with Triathlon Canada and our Athletics Department to create a Para-triathlon Academy as a model for universities across the country. Para-triathlon is being introduced to the Paralympics in Rio in 2016, and we have an opportunity to help develop a Canadian presence in this first ever involvement. A preliminary event was held at the pool on November 3-4, 2012 and a formal announcement and press conference was organized at the Carleton Fieldhouse on February 1, 2013.

Planat Vendor Program

Planat logo: accessibility at your finger tips.The Rick Hansen Foundation has launched an exceptional online accessibility tool that allows individuals anywhere in the world to assess the accessibility of public and private facilities and provide comments to help people with disabilities determine whether a venue will be accessible to them from either mobility, visual or hearing perspectives. The site, is growing daily and will become an enormous aid to travellers with disabilities. The READ initiative helped test the Planat system in 2012 by holding a contest on campus which led to over 1000 assessments being conducted on the Carleton campus. The READ team provided numerous suggestions to improve the system and all were incorporated into the improved design. The Foundation is now launching a Vendor Component to allow the building owners an opportunity to provide up-to-date information on accessibility improvements to their facility. Once again READ is participating in a comprehensive review of the system and will be the first campus in the world to be fully assessed on Planat.

Education initiative

Working cooperatively with the Educational Development Centre (EDC) and the Paul Menton Centre for Persons with Disabilities, the READ Initiative is developing a comprehensive training program to assist Carleton faculty to deliver accessible education and to meet the requirements of the information and communication standard of the AODA. The plan includes the delivery of a comprehensive workshop on accessible education, the identification of a faculty liaison from each academic department and the development of online training videos to extend the training to additional instructors. The workshop, including video spots from student, instructors and administration, including University President Roseann Runte, has been successfully delivered this spring by PMC Coordinator, Boris Vukovic.