Carleton University researcher Adrian Chan, professor in the research-intensive Faculty of Engineering and Design’s Department of Systems and Computer Engineering, has been awarded a CREATE grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) worth $1.65 million over six years.
The funding announcement was made by Kent Hehr, federal minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, who also provided the keynote speech for the official launch of Chan’s Research and Education in Accessibility, Design, and Innovation (READi) training program, which is an integrated, solutions-oriented program that employs applied experiential learning.
The NSERC-funded endeavor, which began in September, seeks to fill a training gap in how accessibility is incorporated in the research, design, and development processes. Often, accessibility is addressed at the end of a process or as a retrofit. This often leads to results, which may meet compliance requirements, but ultimately fail to provide a truly accessible solution. The READi training program will help remedy this deficiency by increasing the capacity of trainees to meet accessibility needs, as well as innovate within the area.
To that end, Chan, who is also assistant vice-president (Academic) at Carleton, hosted the first annual READi symposium gathering a wide network of collaborators for discussion sessions, including students, researchers, people from industry, governments and NGOs, and members of the disability community.
The READi program will develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to help differentiate businesses and provide a global competitive advantage, stimulate innovation, establish new accessibility-focused business clusters, help elevate Canada as a long-term accessibility leader, and create a more inclusive society.
In addition to Chan, the READi program involves nine other researchers from Carleton, the University of Ottawa, and Queen’s University. Students from these three universities will engage in interdisciplinary work that focuses on real-world accessibility issues. Training will also be provided through a new graduate course on accessibility, along with workshops and the annual symposium.
READi is a natural fit with Carleton, long considered a leader in accessibility. Carleton is home to the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities and the only 24-hour Attendant Services program in North America, and it is committed to achieving barrier-free accessibility for people with disabilities who are studying, visiting or working at the university.
For more information, please go to Carleton.ca/readi.
“Fifteen per cent of Canadians currently live with a disability. READi will provide professional training and skills to students to enhance their preparedness for employment in the growing number of markets defined by accessibility requirements – particularly in the areas of engineering, information and communications technology (ICT) and design. This market growth is not only fuelled by human rights and legislative requirements, but also strong economic opportunities.” Adrian Chan, director, NSERC CREATE Research and Education in Accessibility, Design, and Innovation (READi) Program
“Carleton has always prioritized innovation and excellence in academic research relating to design and accessibility. Today’s NSERC grant announcement for Prof. Chan’s project reflects this commitment and will advance Canada’s leadership in accessible design, which is something that should no longer be considered an add-on feature, but rather as simply good design.” Rafik Goubran, assistant vice-president (Research and International)
About Carleton University
Carleton is a dynamic, interdisciplinary research-intensive institution with a creative international approach to research that has led to many significant discoveries and works in science and engineering, business, public affairs and the arts. Home to many noted award-winning researchers, Carleton is uniquely committed to discovery, knowledge, and understanding of the world around us. Carleton’s location in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, allows unique access for our researchers across many disciplines to such places as Canada’s national labs and museums, Library and Archives Canada, federal government departments and, of course, Parliament Hill. Through the building of sustainable communities, we foster new ideas to create a more prosperous future for Canada and the world.
NSERC is a federal agency that helps make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for all Canadians. The agency supports some 30,000 post-secondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 12,000 professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging about 2,000 Canadian companies to participate and invest in post-secondary research projects.
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