The third day of the International Summit on Accessibility, sponsored by Carleton University with support from the Province of Ontario and City of Ottawa, featured presentations and workshops focused on technology’s role in creating more inclusive environments and global best practices among other important subjects. The day concluded with the announcement of the new Susan Scott Parker Scholarship.
The new Susan Scott Parker Scholarship will be awarded annually to a registered disabled undergraduate student at Carleton who has demonstrated financial need and academic achievement, with preference given to female students. This $1,000 award was initiated by Fran Harding and funded through generous donations from her and other Ottawa club members of the Canadian Foundation of University Women (CFUW). The scholarship is named in honour of Susan Scott Parker, a Canadian advocate for the rights of disabled persons in the United Kingdom.
“Through the generosity of the women of Ottawa, we’re really proud that there will be a woman at Carleton who will get some help studying for a number of years and that person will have a disability,” said Harding. “We don’t care what kind of disability it is. If it gets in the way of you learning, than let’s help you get over that a little bit…It’s really nice to know that there’s a possibility that really good things can come from being thoughtful and hard-working and working together for a good cause.”
One of the first workshops of the morning entitled The Promise of Technology: Finding Solutions for a More Accessible and Inclusive World discussed the rapid development of technology and the natural increase in opportunities to harness their potential to build a more inclusive world.
“The history of technology being driven by accessibility actually goes way back in time,” said David Berman, principle at David Berman Communications. “Alexander Graham Bell didn’t set out to invent a telephone. He set out to invent a better way for teachers in a school for the deaf to be able to do their jobs better and in the process he invents the transducer, the transmitter, the loud speaker, the microphone. Time after time what we discover is that when we design for the extremes, everyone benefits. It all starts with trying to accommodate an extreme challenge to include everyone.”
The workshop explored how the strategic use of information technologies when combined with global collaboration can improve knowledge-sharing and transfer to improve health and empowerment of those with disabilities.
The third day also featured a series of presentations collectively entitled Innovations Around the World. Attendees learned about the successful implementation of good practices in services, products and programs in a variety of settings and countries.
Presentations during this session include programs involving Haiti and Uganda. Members of Carleton’s Canugan Initiative spoke about their work to help people with disabilities in Uganda. Members emphasized the importance of making locals a part of the process to ensure projects are effective and sustainable.
“Canugan forms part of a movement in design called ‘Design for the Other 90 per cent,’ which acknowledges that about 90 per cent of the world’s population is untouched by design,” said Bjarki Hallgrimsson, associate professor with the School of Industrial Design. “Big corporations do not consider the actual needs of the world’s majority population because they’re not seen as viable consumers because they’re sustaining themselves on $1.25 a day or less. Of course, people with disabilities represent the poorest of the poor in these countries.”
With the theme of Making it Happen – From Intention to Action, the summit features experts from around the world, providing a key opportunity for service organizations, governments, the post-secondary sector, hospitals, and others who want to review best practices and create action.
Media organizations are invited to attend all sessions of the conference and Carleton is pleased to connect journalists with top experts, before the conference and during the program on July 12 to 15. The schedule of events and speakers can be found at: Accessibilitysummit.ca.
More than 400 registrants from North America, Japan, the United Kingdom, Ghana, Nigeria and several other countries are in attendance to hear presentations from leaders in accessibility, including philanthropist Rick Hansen, communications expert David Berman and David Goldbloom, chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Carleton faculty and staff have prominent roles at the summit, where they are chairing workshops and sharing their expertise on topics including mental health, best practices, post-secondary education, innovations around the world and the future of assistive technologies.
Experts include Larry McCloskey, director of Carleton’s Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities; Dean Mellway, acting director of the READ Initiative; Engineering Dean Rafik Goubran, History Prof. Dominique Marshall; and members of the School of Industrial Design.
About Carleton University: Carleton is a leader in accessibility, with the only 24-hour Attendant Services program in North America. Committed to achieving barrier-free accessibility for persons with disabilities who are studying, visiting or working at Carleton, the issue is an integral part of the university’s strategic plan. Carleton has a variety of other services, groups and committees on campus devoted to providing the best experience to all members of our community. Carleton’s Paul Menton Centre has recently launched a new organization called the READ Initiative (Research, Education, Accessibility and Design) geared to increasing programs and research in the areas of disability, universal design, accessibility and inclusion.
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