How accessibility is driving innovation in Canada - In-person consultations to inform the development of planned accessibility legislation announced

WHITBY, ON, Aug. 23, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, visited the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ontario, and hosted a panel with three young Canadian innovators to discuss how accessibility drives innovation. The Minister toured the centre, noting the accessibility measures in place there, which serve as an example for other communities across Canada. Minister Qualtrough also announced the schedule of the in-person consultations organized to inform planned accessibility legislation.

Minister Qualtrough participated in a dynamic discussion with the three young Canadian innovators:

  • Maayan Ziv, the creator of an online platform that uses crowdsourcing to pinpoint the accessibility status of locations on an interactive map;
  • Micah Rakoff Bellman, the designer of Lift, a height-adjustable and movable table with integrated storage that provides home cooks a comfortable and flexible work surface in the kitchen; and
  • Quayce Thomas, an architecture student who has developed Timsle, a Fitbit-type app that promotes healthy, active living using social networks.

Many more thought-provoking discussions such as these will happen in the next few months, as the Minister travels across the country to engage and consult with Canadians about what an Accessible Canada could look like. In-person public sessions will be held in 18 cities from September to December. Canadians are encouraged to visit to find an in-person consultation session in their area. These sessions will provide all Canadians with an opportunity to share their ideas on how to improve accessibility and inclusion across Canada.

Canadians can also participate in the consultation exercise online at, and can follow @AccessibleGC and the hashtag #AccessibleCanada on Twitter and Accessible Canada on Facebook. The consultation process will run until February 2017.

Minister Qualtrough also encouraged young people from across Canada to apply to participate in the National Youth Forum on Accessibility, which will take place on November 1st. This event will provide Canadian youth who have experience and expertise in disabilities and accessibility with an opportunity to engage in the policy discussion. More information is available at


"Today we are taking another exciting step in our discussion on accessibility. Increasing accessibility is not only the right thing to do, but it also has social and economic benefits for all Canadians. Canada is well positioned to become a global leader in innovative service delivery, technology and universal design. Together, we will reshape the landscape for Canadians with disabilities."
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Further Information

News Release: What does an accessible Canada mean to you?  
Planned Accessibility Legislation  


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Abilities Centre

The Abilities Centre is an internationally renowned, innovative community hub where people of all ages and abilities enrich their lives by engaging in social, health and cultural programs. The centre delivers sports, health and fitness, arts and culture, leading-edge research, education and life skills programming in a welcoming, positive, energetic environment. The Abilities Centre is a not-for-profit corporation and a registered charity operating in Whitby, Ontario. The centre is a 2016 winner of the Ontario David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility.

Consultation to inform the development of accessibility legislation

Minister Qualtrough, Canada's first Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, was mandated by the Prime Minister to lead an engagement process with stakeholders—including Canadians with disabilities, provinces, territories and municipalities—that would inform planned legislation to transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility.

The consultation process is now open, until February 2017.

Starting in September, Canadians across Canada will be able to participate in the in-person consultation engagement process. In-person public consultations are planned to take place in the following cities:

  • St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador / November 3, 2016
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia / December 9, 2016
  • Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island / December 8, 2016
  • Moncton, New Brunswick / October 20, 2016
  • Québec, Quebec / November 10, 2016
  • Montréal, Quebec / November 16, 2016
  • Ottawa, Ontario / November 30, 2016
  • Toronto, Ontario / February 8, 2017
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario / October 12, 2016
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba / October 3, 2016
  • Regina, Saskatchewan / September 28, 2016
  • Calgary, Alberta / October 13, 2016
  • Edmonton, Alberta / October 7, 2016
  • Vancouver, British Columbia / November 26, 2016
  • Victoria, British Columbia / November 7, 2016
  • Iqaluit, Nunavut / September 24, 2016
  • Yellowknife, Northwest Territories / September 26, 2016
  • Whitehorse, Yukon / September 22, 2016.

For the most up-to-date information on in-person venues and dates, and to participate online, please visit

Minister Qualtrough will also participate in roundtable discussions, as well as a National Youth Forum that will engage Canadian youth with disabilities in the policy discussion.

National Youth Forum

Minister Qualtrough, as part of her mandate to consult with Canadians on the development of new accessibility legislation, will host a one-day National Youth Forum in Ottawa on November 1st 2016. The Forum will provide an opportunity for Canadian youth with disabilities to discuss what accessibility means to them, share ideas for the new legislation, connect with peers and celebrate youth leadership in building a more accessible Canada.

Applicants must:

  • be between 15 and 30 years old in November, 2016;
  • be residents of Canada;
  • have a disability or have life, academic or work experience related to disability and accessibility; and
  • demonstrate their leadership or involvement in an area related to disability and accessibility in their community, region or nationally.

The deadline to submit an application is September 15, 2016. Successful applicants will be contacted by The Office for Disability Issues in the fall.

For more information about how to submit an application to participate in the National Youth Forum please visit:

Innovator Bios

Maayan Ziv – Founder and CEO of AccessNow
Mayaan has a passion for creating a more accessible world for people who use a wheelchair. Mayaan created the AccessNow mobile app, which uses crowd sourcing to collect and share accessibility information all around the world.

Micah Rakoff Bellman – Winner of the 2016 annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA)
Micah is a student at Carleton University's Industrial Design program. Micah has developed an invention called Lift, which is a height-adjustable, movable table which integrates storage that provides home cooks with a comfortable and flexible surface in the kitchen. The device strives to give more freedom to older individuals and people with disabilities.

Quayce Thomas, Winner of the 2015 annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA)
Quayce is an entrepreneur and architecture student at Carleton University, has seen his app taking the top prize in the IDeA competition in 2015. Timsle is an app that promotes healthy active living by checking in to make sure users are meeting the goals they've shared with their social network. This "accountability network" helps meeting academic or other goals and preventing depression.


SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

For further information: Ashley Michnowski, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, 819-934-1122 / TTY: 1-866-702-6967; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559,

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