NEW! Access Ability Initiative and Executive Program 

The PPF Academy is launching the Access Ability Initiative and its Access Ability Executive Program in Fall 2021, developed as a response to the foundational research of the Access Ability project.  

Register for the Info Session today

Learn more about the Executive Program

The Access Ability Executive Program will offer practical learning opportunities for leaders in Canadian employers across sectors, in partnership with employer-serving agencies and expert practitioners in disability inclusion. The AA Initiative will bridge the gap between Canada’s major employers and local agencies, between organizational leaders and disability-inclusion leads, across peer-organizations, and between broadly informed research and practice.

About the Access Ability Project 

What organizational skills, awareness and policy supports would help employers hire and advance people with disabilities? Exclusionary design and bias in recruitment, hiring and advancing is a longstanding issue that leaves workers with disabilities unable to contribute their full potential and access their preferred jobs. Many medium and large employers in Canada are onboard with doing better – but the results are lagging. 

The Public Policy Forum (PPF) has been leading the conversation on the future of work and tracking how the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up and intensified changes to work and workplaces. The pandemic made things both harder and better in some ways for people with disabilities and has challenged employers’ abilities and priorities to grow and support their workforce.  

In pursuit of a post-pandemic economy that is equitable for all and positioned for growth, PPF launched the Access Ability project (Fall 2020) to work with its network of major Canadian employers and federal and provincial policymakers to tackle the issue of exclusionary design and bias in recruitment, hiring and advancement affecting workers with disabilities. 

To do this work, PPF will integrate its policy shop and Learning Academy to identify challenges alongside stakeholders through research and consultation, and to use this information to develop policy learning and training resources for employers and policymakers. Together, we aim to transform organizational practices alongside our network of Canadian employers. 

  • Access Ability Project Launch & Panel (November 2020) with Anna-Karina Tabuñar of Talent Untapped Group, Jamie Burton of the Canadian Council for Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) and Dr. Julie Cafley of Canada’s New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization (NDRIO) 
  • Roundtable Series (February 2021) investigating employers’ experiences in four priority areas for change: 

– Envisioning and Measuring Success, with Access Ability kick-off research presentations 

– Disclosure and Accommodations Across the Employment Cycle, with Ricardo Wagner of Microsoft 

– Retention, Training, Advancement and Full Inclusion After Hire, with disability inclusion leads Ali Najafi of RBC, Jennifer Popkey of TD Bank and Bryan Morrison of CIBC 

– Intersectionality, Strategy and Implementation, with Jeannette Campbell of the Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) 

  • Pilot Workshops & Learning Journey (March 2021) developing peer-to-peer learning networks and transformational learning opportunities with Canadian employers and disability advocates. 
  • Future of Accessible Work Revisited Panel (March 2021) with Yazmine Laroche – Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough – Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion for the Government of Canada, and Amyn Thawer, Vice-President, Head of Global Compliance and Integrity at LinkedIn 
  • Access Ability: Ensuring Disability Inclusion Alongside EDI Efforts (June 2021) 

Experts in disability inclusion offered an in-depth briefing and discussion of Access Ability research findings around disclosure and disability in EDI. 

  • Forthcoming Blog Series by Access Ability Advisory (Summer 2021) reflecting on the future of work and equity for employees with disabilities. 
  • Forthcoming Publication – Issue Brief Series (Summer 2021) reporting on findings from research and roundtables with employers, policymakers, and disability advocates. 

The Access Ability project will be guided by the following principles: 

  • Nothing without us: Persons with disabilities will be actively involved in all stages of the project. 
  • Intersectionality: The project will be considerate to represent overlapping disadvantages, sources of oppression and systemic barriers affecting people with disabilities in its project design, research and relationships, including working intersectionally with people of multiple experiences and identities. 
  • Authenticity: PPF will model and foster openness, humility and truth and support project stakeholders in doing the same. 
  • Sustainability: The project will focus on helping employers and policymakers take actionable steps that have long-term impact. 

For more information, or if you would like to be involved, please contact: Marlena Flick, Policy Lead (mflick@ppforum.ca 

What’s Next? The Access Ability research and learning project will serve as the foundational work of PPF’s forthcoming Access Ability Initiative (Fall 2021) under the PPF Academy. The Academy will offer practical learning opportunities for leaders in Canadian employers across sectors, in partnership with employer-serving agencies and expert practitioners in disability inclusion. The AA Initiative will bridge the gap between Canada’s major employers and local agencies, between organizational leaders and disability-inclusion leads, across peer-organizations, and between broadly informed research and practice. Details on program schedule, how to enrol and tuition costs to come!

Access Ability Advisory Council:

The Access Ability project is pleased to engage an expert advisory panel which represents people with lived experience, academics, employers, and advocates to guide the project development and shape the workshop curriculum. PPF is appreciative of their active participation, advice for this project and is pleased to introduce them and acknowledge their excellent work:

  • Anna-Karina Tabuñar – President and Founder at the Talent Untapped Group 
  • Karl SchwonikCreative Entrepreneur and PhD student at the Haskayne School of Business
  • Wendy Cukier – Professor, Founder and Director of the Diversity Institute at Ryerson
  • Julie Cafley – Vice-President, Communications and External Relations, New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization (NDRIO)
  • Aimee Louw – Writer, and 2020 TD Fellow on Disability and Inclusion
  • Gift Tshuma – Universal Design Advisor
  • Shelley Page – Journalist and Executive Editor at The Sick Days
  • Haley Flaro – Executive Director at Ability New Brunswick
  • Alfred MacLeod – Assistant Deputy Minister at the Office of Public Service Accessibility, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
  • Ricardo Wagner – Microsoft Accessibility Lead 
  • Krystal Abotossaway – Senior Manager Diversity and Inclusion, Indigenous Peoples Area of Focus at TD Bank
  • Victoria Kuketz – Manager of Stakeholder and Member Relations at NDRIO (Canada’s New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization)
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