Author: Erica Charbonneau

Physical Spaces

Physical Spaces

This module covers how public spaces can be designed for accessibility

This free training module covers the requirements for specific features of our public spaces that will make it easier for people with disabilities to move through, use and enjoy what our businesses have to offer.

Use “design empathy” to design inclusive physical spaces

Outlining the challenges, opportunities, and examples of designing physical spaces for people with autism.

Using Universal Design to design physical spaces

A checklist for designing spaces that are welcoming, accessible, and usable.

This web portal provides information on creating accessible environments for people with vision loss

An invaluable tool for architects, designers, building owners, planners, standards bodies, and others interested in making indoor and outdoor spaces universally accessible.

How architecture can design for disability and benefit everyone

An architecture team is building a house for a man who lives with Cerebral Palsy. The hope is that the design features become common when building houses in the future.

This simple ramp makes thousands of businesses more accessible

StopGap’s first project to increase awareness was the launch of the first Community Ramp Project in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. Through material donated by local hardware stores and volunteer labour, the Community Ramp Project provided a deployable ramp at no cost to 12 businesses in the area.

Why Inclusive Design Matters

A moderated discussion about Inclusive Design’s utility in urban planning and architectural design.

Goods and Services

Good and Services

How accessible digital media has helped people buy legal and financial products and services

WC3 applied to customer website led to improved traffic, usability, maintenance costs and more.

Case Study on How Inclusive Processes Inspire Innovation

In 2014 CBC news broadcast a series of case studies explaining how the disabled have become a driving force in technology and a giant inspiration for innovation, improving goods and services to a broader market audience.

Creating Inclusive Restaurants Through Sensory Experience Design

Rezvan Boostani is a graduate of Inclusive Design Master program at OCAD University. She makes a strong case for creating Inclusive Restaurants.

This company makes products specifically for people with disabilities

It delivers the best products and services to make education and the workplace accessible to students and employees.

The social and economic impact of AODA is affecting every Ontario business

Martin Prosperity Institute study, projecting the Economic Impacts of Improved Accessibility in Ontario (2010) commissioned by the Government of Ontario.

Return on disability

The website of Return on Disability is a complete resource for companies, government and investors to unlock the value in disability for the global economy, the following video from their website certainly makes a case how companies that enhance their customer experience by utilizing insights from the disability market outperform their peers in revenue growth.

IBM’s research in accessible technology can help your business reach new customers

IBM commitment to design accessible products and services.

These statistics show the size of the disability market and industry response

Outlines public and private sector reference and involvement to disability. It makes a case for why designing for accessibility matters, the business case, regulatory barriers and opportunities, and the best American and Canadian companies positioned in the disability space.

Make your business understand the shopping habits of the disabled consumer

A Neilsen study breaking down the different disability segments, what disabled consumers do and do not spend money on, how often and where they shop.

This collection of universally designed products is inspirational

A repository for products that have been designed with Universal Design principles in mind.

Employment Practices

Employment Practices

Resources from the Community of Accessible Employers

The library of free resources of the Community of Accessible Employers will give you the tools you need to move to the next stage in your journey.1 Human being out of 6 has some type of disability: That's one Billion people worldwide. Nearly 90% of U.S. consumers prefer companies that employ people with disabilities. 70% of people with disabilities have non-apparent disabilities. When accommodations are made for employees noticed an increase in overall morale in the workplace. After one year of employment, the retention rate of people with disabilities is 85%. In developed countries, most accommodations that are made for people with disabilities in the workplace cost absolutely nothing to make. In other cases, setting up a workstation for a person with disability cost less than $500. That's cheaper than an iPad!

Why Hiring Individuals with Disabilities is Good for Bussiness

The case for accessible employment practices for your business

This conference paper examines the business benefits of accessible employment practices and outlines strategies and resources to help businesses develop accessible and inclusive workplaces for people with disabilities.

Business owner makes money by hiring disabled workers

A 2014 CBC News broadcast that shows how a Tim Hortons franchisee has found that hiring disabled Canadians has boosted his bottom line.

These case studies show why you should make your business accessible

Range of case studies, PDF’s and videos how company benefit from employing people with disabilities.

This shows why and how businesses can hire people with disabilities

This guidance provides a summary of information for employers to help increase their understanding of disability and to enable them recruit and support disabled people and those with long term health conditions in work.

How your business can make employment practices accessible

This training module covers the requirements for making your employment practices accessible.

How policy affects inclusive and accessible employment practice

In this IRPP study, Michael Prince analyzes the employment situation and the policy context for working-age adults with mental or physical disabilities (PDF REPORT)

This shows employment standards for hiring people with disabilities

Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) at Queen’s University as it pertains to employment standards.

How Tim Horton’s makes inclusive employment profitable

Mark Wafer is interviewed by Steve Palkin, Mr. Wafer understands and explains the business advantages that his more than 40 disabled employees bring to his bottom line.

Looking to diversify your workforce?

Career Edge, is a recruitment company that promotes diversification of talent and it has designated internship programs tailored to graduates with disabilities.

How dispelling stigma about disability can benefit your business

Produced By The Government of New Brunswick Canada (PDF)

Employees with disabilities can positively impact a business’s bottom line

A 2016 CBC News broadcast exhibits how Canadian businesses have found hiring disabled Canadians boosted their bottom line profits by retained a valued employee, increased the employee’s productivity and increased the employee’s attendance.

Employees with disabilities can have a positive impact on profitability

Makes the business case for employing People with Disabilities. They are more productive, work more safely, stay longer, require less supervision, more innovative, and the turnover rate is decreased. It states that a business is disadvantaged as a competitor if it neglects 15% of the Canadian population. Add in the friends and caregivers of PwD, and that increases to 53% of the population.

Why Hiring People with Disabilities Makes Good Business Sense

This source not only makes the business case, complete with PwD discretionary income, but it highlights the value of hiring PwD with statistics: retention rates, work ethic, attendance, and safety concerns are all positive. It also shows how an organization saves money by hiring PwD. This varies depending on which level for which an organization is hiring: executive, mid-level, entry-level college, etc. Hiring PwD can increase brand loyalty, boost staff morale, and help the organization become an employer of choice.

Training and Professional Development


Make your business connect to resources, guidance, and support for disability

Connecting industries and consumers to resources, guidelines, support and questions.

Aha! Accessible Customer Experience Expanding your Market

The aha! project takes a dive into how inclusive design can help benefit your small business.

This organization awards employers for the best inclusive workplace practices in Canada

An award organization that recognizes employers across Canada that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs.

Learn how to innovate by incorporating inclusion into your business

A national network of business leaders that understand the immense value that people with disabilities bring to an organization and it works with businesses to provide all the resources necessary to transform businesses into fully inclusive workplaces, and drive measurable strategic outcomes.

Principles and practices for communicating with children

Communicating with Children: principles and practices to nurture, inspire, excite, educate and heal.

Customer Experience Matters for People with Disabilities, too

This makes the business case for having an inclusive customer experience. There are 54 million PwD in North America, with billions of dollars of discretionary income. Businesses should have an inclusive online presence and advertising features.

This module covers how to provide excellent customer service for people with disabilities

This free training module covers requirements for providing customer service in ways that are accessible for people with disabilities, the complete training module is about 30 minutes long, there is an option to be certificated, but only after completing a “knowledge check” or small quiz.

Design Research Portal (DRP)

This web platform has been created by a Brazilian industrial designer and it has been serving the Design community since 2013. It provides articles, tools and tutorials covering various areas of Design including Universal Design.

Gain a competitive advantage by using sustainable resources and improving the user experience

Designing Our Tomorrow is a business toolkit to allows organizations to gain competitive advantage by making better use of the planet’s resources, and improve the user experience. There are tips for application and examples.

This book can teach you how to co-create and design with people

Innovating with People is a book detailing how businesses could adopt an Inclusive Design strategy.

Make your business more accessible with this collection of resources and services

It provides a free website accessibility audit quote if any is interested to find out what a full assessment will cost. First step is to do a quick review of the target website, both external and password protected areas, to ascertain the complexity of the content and functionality and how many accessibility barriers are immediately apparent.

Make sure your business is following these accessibility requirements

Training module that provides an introduction to the accessibility requirements, and covers requirements that cut across all the standards.

Make sure your business’s images are accessible by people with disabilities

Image description guidelines developed by the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM) in conjunction with the DIAGRAM Center (Digital Image And Graphic Resources for Accessible Materials) at Benetech.

Inclusive Design Toolkit Ontario

An introduction to inclusive service design for Ontario. Includes activities people can follow to design inclusively.

Learn about Inclusive Design with this toolkit

The University of Cambridge has done much research regarding Inclusive Design. This particular page outlines what Inclusive Design is, key performance indicators, understanding user diversity, the comparison with “universal design”. The overall website includes the business case, or, why inclusive design in important. It also includes a toolkit of activities to adopt inclusive design, as well as case studies.

The benefits of Inclusive Design

A short lecture given in Toronto about Inclusive Design and its benefits.

Is your business using inclusive language? Here’s how:

Language guidelines when communicating with or about PWDs.

Microsoft’s Inclusive Design toolkit can help your business design better products and services

Microsoft explains what inclusive Design is, how to recognize it, and most importantly, how to design for inclusivity using inclusivity. This link includes the manual for what Inclusive Design is and a toolkit of activities and workshops that designers could use.

It’s time to rethink disability’s place in the private sector

Report from the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

Use these resources to develop a web accessibility business case for your organization

Case studies and other statistics that show the value of designing for accessibility.

Return on disability

The website of Return on Disability is a complete resource for companies, government and investors to unlock the value in disability for the global economy, the following video from their website certainly makes a case how companies that enhance their customer experience by utilizing insights from the disability market outperform their peers in revenue growth.

The Accessibility Switchboard

Connecting industries and consumers to resources, guidelines, support and questions.

How transportation can be made more accessible

This training module covers the requirements for public transportation providers so that everyone can more easily travel in Ontario.

10 Ways to Engage the Disability Market and Keep a Competitive Edge

10 tips outlining how to keep accessibility in mind when a business is catering to a certain market. This includes asking questions regarding exclusion: who is excluded? What contributes to exclusion? And how do we fix it?

Why Inclusive Design is the Future

Prof Jeremy Myerson from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design gives a 30+ min talk about the utility of Inclusive Design, especially for future-oriented organizations and individuals. This talk explores designing for disability and age, but also for other marginal populations such as minorities, learning disabilities, etc.



Making effective use of all communication channels to reach people with disabilities

This guidance was written for government communicators on how to provide accessible communication formats.

Producing inclusive documents can help your business include new customers

Council of Ontario Universities provides guidelines and tips on producing inclusive documents (print & digital)

These tools can help your business craft accessible office documents by choosing accessible office applications

The IDRC has compiled a list of techniques and best practices to ensure your office documents meet the requirements of WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 1.0, this resource is composed by numerous applications divided by categories (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation and other) each application has a step-by-step guidance making it easier for you to only focus on your desire applications.  

This system can evaluate your business’s web pages for accessibility problems

This is a model system that demonstrates how web pages may be checked for accessibility problems. The accessibility checks in this system are based upon the proposed Open Accessibility Checks (OAC), a universal series of tests that may be applied to HTML pages to determine their compliance with accessibility standards.

This open and collaborative software can help your business improve the user experience

An open source software focused on designing flexible, customizable, user-centered interfaces. Fluid produces Infusion, an open, rich, reusable set of user interface components and more.

Guidance on Accessible Communication Formats

The government of UK has an useful guidance on how to use effectively accessible communications formats to reach all your audience, while all the information is relevant to Ontario standards there are some exceptions like the use of British Sign Language (BSL), Here in Canada, American sign language (ASL) is the primary method of communication for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

This resource covers the do’s and don’t’s of providing accessible information and communications

Training module that covers the requirements for providing and receiving information and communications in ways that are accessible to people with disabilities.

OpenCaps lets you make captions and subtitles for your videos to reach a wider audience

An evolving desktop captioning and video description software. It supports captioning for Quicktime movies, movies uploads to YouTube, as well as the creation of video description audio tracks. CapScribe Desktop runs on Intel Macs and is available for download and exploration.

Sign Link Studio

A technique that enables sign language based web sites on the Internet. An authoring tool called SignEd creates the webpages by marking up sign language video files with sign language based hyperlinks called “signlinks”. The website that makes SignEd available was built using the tool and demonstrates this new web page technique.

This guide helps your business in using various media channels to reach people with disabilities

Using a range of communication channels will help to maximise the number of people you reach.

This helps your business be compliant with the AODA

Guidelines to create accessible Internet and intranet websites and web on Ontario.

This offers strategies, guidelines, and resources to make the Web more accessible to all

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops strategies, guidelines, and resources to help make the Web accessible to people with disabilities.

How to provide alternative texts to images for people with blindness or low vision

This tutorial demonstrates how to provide appropriate text alternatives based on the purpose of the image.

This tells you the do’s and don’t’s of alternative text

This article presents interpretation of appropriate use of alternative text.

This helps small businesses to assess their current Information and Communication Systems in terms of accessibility

A pdf guide that assists small businesses in understanding the AODA Requirements for Accessible Information and Communications and in mapping strategies to convey those.

Attitudes, Values and Leadership

Attitudes, Values and Leadership

Current accessibility news that every business should consider

An online magazine with up-to-date links and information about accessibility news within Canada.

Accessibility Resource Centre

Federal resources and tools to help improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

Accessibility rules for businesses and non-profits

The rules and deadlines businesses and nonprofits must follow to meet accessibility standards in Ontario.

Barclays takes leadership on Accessibility

Barclays shares insight and resources from their own journey to build inclusion and aims to boost accessibility as a business model.

Charting a Path Forward

A 2009 report of the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, by Charles Beer on his findings and recommendations for improving the effectiveness of Ontario’s accessibility laws.

Awareness of social and physical barriers to disability

CWDO promotes the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of persons with disabilities through community development, social action, and member support and referral. Their primary activity is public education and awareness about the social and physical barriers that prevent the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in Ontario.

The case for employment inclusion for people with disabilities

DEAM is an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October.

A list of Disability Organizations so your business can learn about customer needs

A specialty legal clinic in Ontario committed to support disabilities community.

Positive media representation of disability benefits brand image

An article about a petition to Mattel, a popular toy manufacturer, to make a doll with a disability. This would be an effort to challenge common stereotypes about PwD. This could be a powerful catalyst for young children to think critically about the stereotypes and role of disability in someone’s life.

Catering to disabled athletes

An UK organization that enables sport organizations to support disabled individuals to be and stay active.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month encourages businesses to think about inclusive practices

Government of Canada highlighted that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month across Canada.

How transparency, accountability, and inclusion can be a part of your corporate culture

Microsoft case studies showcasing how technology can cater to a diversity of needs and abilities.

Policy and guidelines on disability and the duty to accommodate

A comprehensive document providing guidance on interpreting and understanding the provisions of the Code related to people with disabilities. It sets out how individuals, employers, service providers, policy-makers and others should make sure they and their organizations comply with the Code.

Guidelines to help organizations communicate with and about disability

Guidelines for government communicators when portraying disability and disabled people positively is critical in changing and improving services.

How networking, education, and certification can help promote accessibility in the world

Accessibility professionals from around the world can come together to define, promote and improve the accessibility profession through networking, education and certification. Join IAAP to make your impact on the accessibility profession.

Contact us

There are many ways to get involved in BIG IDeA:

  1. Submit a challenge for teams to work on at our next Inclusive Design Challenge
  2. Nominate great examples of accessibility and inclusion for our Inclusive Design Showcase
  3. Sign up to learn about our next mapathon or Inclusive Design Challenge
  4. Provide a suggestion to a business on how to improve its inclusion and accessibility
  5. Join the BIG IDeA Mapathon

For more information about BIG IDeA and on how to get involved, please contact:


David Pereyra
BIG IDeA Project Coordinator
416-977-6000 x4672


The project team of BIG IDeA wishes to thank the EnAbling Change program of the Government of Ontario for its financial support in the production of this project. The team also acknowledges that this work was completed on the land of Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, without whom none of us would be here. The land that we all work, live, and interact with on a daily basis has a history that we need to be reminded of, and it continues to be the site of Indigenous resistance and survival to this day.


Have you made a small or big change that makes your business more inclusive or accessible for your customers?

BIG IDeA showcases businesses that demonstrate exemplary and innovative practices so that they can be recognized by current and potential customers. Having your business on the BIG IDeA Showcase is a great opportunity to:

● let potential customers know what is in place to make their visit inclusive
● have your leadership in making your community more inclusive celebrated
● get more visibility within and beyond your community for your business

If you would like your business showcased on BIG IDeA, please contact the Project Coordinator, David Pereyra, by email at , or by phone at 416-977-6000 x4672 or use our social media links.

Friends of BIG IDeA

This page shows some of the greatest contributors to BIG IDeA’s Events.

Featured Businesses

Check out what these businesses are doing to be more inclusive and accessible.

Submit an Accessibility Challenge

Submit an Accessibility Challenge to BIG IDeA

Have you experienced and accessibility challenge that you would like to submit to our next Inclusive Design Challenge? Please tell us about it using the form bellow.

    Please tell us where this accessibility design challenge occurs. If possible, please provide the name of the business and the address. (required)

    How did you learn about this accessibility challenge? (please select all that apply)

    Be part of the BIG IDeA Community

    Would you like to be notified of upcoming BIG IDeA events like design challenges and mapathons? (required)

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    Please note: BIG IDeA does not sell or give away the information you provide when filling out the BIG IDeA forms.