In Canada, approximately 1 in 5 individuals, aged 15 years and over, had one or more disabilities [ref]. This percentage is increasing with the ageing population. A wide range of barriers prevent people from fully participating in society, especially people with disabilities and impairments. Accessibility is the design and delivery of products, facilities, and services to be independently used by people, regardless of ability.ª

The NSERC CREATE Research and Education in Accessibility, Design, and Innovation (READi) program provides accessibility training and skills to students, with a particular emphasis on those studying engineering, information and communications technology (ICT), and design. Students exiting the program will be better prepared for employment in a growing number of markets defined by accessibility requirements.

This market growth is not only fueled by human rights and legislative requirements, but also strong economic opportunities. The READi program increases awareness and will enhance the next generation graduates’ knowledge on design for accessibility.

READi is an integrated solutions-oriented training program employing applied and experiential learning. Through active collaborations with businesses, non-government organizations, accessibility experts, and people with disabilities, students from Carleton University, University of Ottawa, and Queen’s University, engage in an interdisciplinary environment that includes a diverse number of end-users in co-designing. Moreover, students and collaborators engage in other participatory research and development activities that focus on real-world accessibility issues.

Training is facilitated by a new graduate level course on accessibility, workshops, action team projects, annual retreat, and annual symposium.

The NSERC CREATE READi program is a six-year initiative from September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2023.

ªStatistics Canada. 2018. A demographic, employment and income profile of Canadians with disabilities aged 15 years and over, 2017. Ottawa. Version updated May 2009. Ottawa.