Embracing a ‘New, Improved and Accessible’ Normal

A screenshot of the title page of the presentation I shared during an interview with Tony Laballois, Statistics Canada in 2020 conducted by Michelle Buckland. It is titled COVID-19 Pandemic and People with Disabilities. It includes the EMBRACE logo and a collage of photos. The collage includes: 1) Young woman in wheelchair with colleagues at workplace gathered around a desk facing a computer screen; 2) Group photo of diverse young people at work around table with one in wheelchair; 3) Portrait of a Caucasian girl with Downs Syndrome sitting with home yutor using laptop; 4) Smiling mixed ethnicity friends talking with sign language sitting on a sofa; and 5) Two men working together with machinery.

How are organizations and small businesses rebuilding post-COVID-19? Are they integrating accessibility legislation? Removing physical barriers for people with disabilities while redesigning the infrastructure for physical distancing guidelines? What about basic assistive technology tools and digital accessibility? Are they initiating employment opportunities for individuals who identify themselves of having a disability?

Statistics Canada recognizes the increased need for information on persons with visible and/or invisible disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. They conducted a new crowdsource survey in June 2020 on the topic of disability. This survey looked at the challenges faced by Canadians with disabilities in the context of this pandemic including impacts on employment, expenses, access to care, supports and other services as well as social isolation.

According to Statistics Canada (Canadian Survey on Disability, 2017), at least 22% of the Canadian population (6.2 million people) have one type of disability, yet the vast majority still face significant barriers to inclusion.

I was honored for Tony Labillois, Director Public Sector Statistics Division at Statistics Canada to allow me to have a Zoom interview with him and have an opportunity to learn more of the steps that are being taken and getting some of his insights regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. We discussed how it has been making a great impact and benefits of building awareness regarding accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. The same limitations which they have been/are encountering on a regular basis and now being experienced by everyone — individuals with or without a disability.

We are both excited to use this interview as a mode to open more doors and opportunities of changing mindsets, encourage accessibility and inclusion, and advocate for a supportive community, workforce, country and society.

Let’s EMBRACE the full potential of Canadians for ALL abilities!

Closed Caption: Interview with Tony Labillois, Statistics Canada

Transcript of Interview with Tony Labillois

Statistics Canada. (2018, November 28). Canadian survey on disability, 2017: A demographic, employment and income profile of Canadians with disabilities aged 15 years and over. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/181128/dq181128a-eng.htm

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