Minister Qualtrough celebrates National AccessAbility Week by promoting social inclusion through technological innovation

VANCOUVER, June 2, 2017 /CNW/ - Volunteers, including experts from the information technology and communications sectors and community organizations, are working together to find innovative solutions to break down barriers and promote a more inclusive and accessible Canada during National AccessAbility Week.

Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, attended the first day of the two-day Makers Making Change and Telus Day of Giving LipSync Buildathon with the Neil Squire Society. At this event, change "makers" (hackers, inventors and creators) are working together to build open source assistive technology for people with disabilities, such as devices that enable people with little or no hand movement to operate a touchscreen device. 

Minister Qualtrough also announced that the Neil Squire Society received approximately $750,000 for the development of a network of groups and people with technical skills to support the identification, development, testing, dissemination and deployment of open source assistive technologies (open AT). Through an online portal, "makers" will be matched to a specific person with a disability to assist with their specific accessibility requirement. Open AT will have a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities as it will allow for the production and delivery of innovative devices at the community level.

This funding was awarded under the Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability Component (SDPP‑D) following a six-week call for proposals that closed on November 3, 2016. The Minister highlighted how supporting innovation through these projects is one way the Government of Canada is helping to ensure our communities become more inclusive for all Canadians. A total of $4.5 million over two years will be awarded to national not‑for‑profit organizations with a disability-focused mandate. The SDPP-D funds projects that support disability organizations in their efforts to improve the participation and integration of people with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society.


"An inclusive society has an innovation advantage. People with disabilities contribute to this because they must come up with creative solutions to accomplish common tasks. We are committed to supporting innovative projects intended to improve the participation and integration of people with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society."
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

"We are delighted to receive the SDPP-D funding announced today by Minister Qualtrough from the Government of Canada. This funding is instrumental in enabling the Neil Squire Society to develop, and pilot across Canada, an innovative open source model to produce and deliver hardware-based assistive technologies to Canadians with disabilities. Thank you so much for this vital support."
Gary Birch, Executive Director, Neil Squire Society

"At TELUS, we believe that in order to do well in business, we must improve the social health of our communities. One of the hallmarks of our award-winning culture is our team's extraordinary commitment to giving back with our hearts, our hands and our philanthropy. A commitment that is brought to life today by our team members who are participating in this activity in partnership with the Neil Squire Society, as a part of Our 2017TELUS Days of Giving campaign."
Marilyn Tyfting, Chief Corporate Officer, TELUS International

Quick Facts

  • The Social Development Partnerships Program (SDPP) helps improve the lives of children and families, people with disabilities and other vulnerable Canadians.
  • The SDPP has two funding components: Disability, and Children and Families.
  • Since the inception of the Disability Component of the Social Development Partnerships Program in 1998, it has provided $11 million annually in grant and contribution program funding to organizations to support projects intended to improve the participation and integration of people with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society with respect to social inclusion.
  • An analysis of data from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability found that approximately 2.1 million Canadians aged 15 years or older are at risk of facing barriers in the built environment and/or in relation to information and communications.

Associated Links
Social Development Projects for People with Disabilities 
Neil Squire Society LipSync Project 
Makers Making Change 
Access Awareness Day – British Columbia 


The Disability Component of the Social Development Partnerships Program (SDPP-D) supports projects intended to improve the participation and integration of people with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society. More specifically, the Program supports not-for-profit organizations across Canada in tackling barriers faced by people with disabilities with respect to social inclusion.

The objectives of the SDPP-D are to:

  • support the development and utilization of effective approaches to address social issues and challenges;
  • develop, exchange and apply knowledge, tools and resources that address the social needs of individuals, families and communities;
  • foster partnerships and networks to address existing and emerging social issues;
  • recognize and support the ability of not-for-profit organizations to identify and address social development priorities; and
  • recognize and promote community engagement initiatives (e.g. volunteerism, corporate social responsibility, innovation by not-for-profit organizations, partnerships, coalitions).

Projects funded under the 2016 call for proposal will fall under a theme of innovation. Funded products would develop, test and identify promising practices and tools that promote the social inclusion of people with disabilities. Projects could include, but are not limited to:

  • developing of new partnerships to share, transfer and disseminate knowledge;
  • bringing together multiple stakeholders working towards a shared goal to improve existing or create new service delivery models for people with disabilities; or
  • developing of technological applications and systems that meet the needs of people with disabilities, such as web-based and/or social media innovations aimed at improving access to information, communication, and other services (including electronic services) for people with disabilities.

Nine projects will receive funding.  The recipients are:

  • The Neil Squire Society
  • Iris the Dragon
  • Meticulon Consulting
  • Spinal Cord Injury Canada
  • Canadian Association for Community Living
  • Kids Brain Health Network
  • Communication Disabilities Access Canada
  • Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf
  • The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work

Follow us on Twitter


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,

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890