Making digital technologies more accessible to Canadians with disabilities

Americas, Assistive Technology, December 11 2017

OTTAWA: As a result of a new $22.3-million program, more Canadians with disabilities will have access to the digital tools they need to fully participate in society and get access to the well-paying jobs of today and tomorrow.

Man with disabilities uses Assistive Technology

(Photo credit: RPI)

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, today launched the Accessible Technology Program, a new program that, over the next five years, will co-fund innovative projects to develop new assistive and adaptive digital devices and technologies.

The Internet is an important gateway to developing and maintaining professional, social, economic and cultural networks within the digital economy. However, many Canadians are still not taking full advantage of these benefits—not by choice, but because of significant barriers to accessing technology and the Internet. These barriers are particularly concerning for persons with disabilities, who already face limitations to their full participation in the workforce.

The current level of support for the development and distribution of accessible technologies is insufficient given the needs of Canadians with disabilities. While mainstream technologies typically decrease in price and become more readily available, the opposite is true for assistive and adaptive devices, since they must be customized to the unique needs of their users.

The Accessible Technology Program will help overcome these barriers, reduce the costs associated with developing assistive and adaptive technologies, and help address the employment challenges persons with disabilities face. This will help ensure that they can be more independent and get the well-paying middle-class jobs they want.

This program is part of the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year strategy to create well-paying jobs for the middle class.

“Despite new assistive and adaptive technologies that empower persons with disabilities to participate in the workforce, we still see a technology gap in our communities. That’s why I’m pleased to launch the Accessible Technology Program. It will help us address this technology gap and give all Canadians an equal opportunity to obtain the well-paying middle class jobs of today and tomorrow. Innovation is only successful when we can all participate.” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

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