The Research and Education in Accessibility, Design, and Innovation (READi) training program began its sixth year with a hybrid symposium held at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario for the first time. READi students and faculty shared what they learned over the previous year, through multidisciplinary research and practice at Carleton University, University of Ottawa and Queen’s University, in collaboration with many organizations dedicated to improving accessibility.

READi is unique with its cohorts of students from multiple universities, who retain a research focus in their home programs (e.g., engineering, information technology, design, human-computer interaction, and music), and adds theory and practice (learning by doing) in accessibility under the guidance of an interdisciplinary team. READi acknowledges the importance of affective learning (emotion/feeling), where trainees not only gain the knowledge and skills to meet accessibility needs (i.e., cognitive learning) but also develop the inspiration and motivation to do so.

The event included a presentation from Birhanu Addis, a PhD Candidate in Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queen’s University titled “Assistive Technology Use and its Associated Factors among University Students with Disabilities: A Case in a Developing Country” and a talk from Peter Morel of Top Shape Inc titled “Accessibility in the fitness environment” sharing his lived experience as a person with disabilities and how he has built an accessible fitness centre in the Ottawa area. The fifth cohort of READi students presented on their Action Team Projects, discussing the accessibility issue they tackled, the knowledge and ideas that were developed, and their learning journey, and all READi students spoke to their experiences in the program, sharing the challenges they faced and what they gained along the way.

READi Symposium attendees pose for picture