BIG IDeA brings together businesses, customers with lived experience of disability and the next generation of business leaders to collaboratively advance accessibility innovation in Ontario and create a culture of accessibility and inclusion. The Inclusive Design Research Centre leads a consortium that is develop and implementing this BIG IDeA pilot. We are developing a platform to support businesses in Ontario in leading and innovating accessible and inclusive practices.

Logo for the inclusive design research centre at OCAD University

Recognizing Innovators

BIG IDeA will support a process for nominating businesses that demonstrate exemplary and innovative practices so that they can be recognized and their accomplishment showcased online and through live events.  Business innovation in inclusive design will be assessed through a dual process of continuous constructive customer reviews (& accessibility mapping events) combined with verification by a multi-stakeholder expert panel.

Engaging the Community

Students, youth and the larger community will be recruited and engaged in innovatively addressing accessibility goals through design challenge events such as hackathons, and design sprints.

Supporting Businesses

Businesses will be equipped to implement and innovate in accessibility through a growing open repository of training modules, tools, resources and reusable accessibility components.

Mapping an Inclusive Ontario

Customers with disabilities, including tourists and visitors, their families, and the groups they belong to, will be able to find businesses that address their accessibility needs through aggregated mapping tools of accessible businesses.

BIG IDeA will create a responsive ecosystem that advances accessibility for all customers in tandem with business innovation and global leadership in inclusive design to benefit the Ontario economy and Ontario communities.

Advisory Committee


Portrait of Cheryl Blackman


Cheryl Blackman is Assistant Vice-President, Audience Development at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) where she is responsible for the quality of the visitor experience. In addition to managing the front of house welcome, she oversees the audience evaluation team. Cheryl created the museum’s Community Access Network, which she has grown into more than 50 partnerships with groups across Ontario. Cheryl has grown this area into a highly successful part of the ROM, which regularly achieves high satisfaction levels amongst our visitors, and wins awards for innovation in all aspects of access and community building. A life-long learner who thrives on a challenge, Cheryl turns opportunities into successful delivery, and she does this by breaking down any barriers. She also completed an MBA in 2016. Cheryl additionally brings 16 years of experience from the airline industry, where she last served as Manager of Operations for Air Canada on the New Terminal 1 project at Lester B. International Airport.

Website: https://www.rom.on.ca/en/visit-us/accessibility/community-access-network

The Logo for the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto Sandra Carpenter is currently the Executive Director of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto, (CILT), Board Member of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO), Board Member of the Ethno-racial Coalition of People with Disabilities in Ontario and is a Member of the Disability Issues Committee recently renamed Disability Access & Inclusion Advisory Committee. As a person with a physical disability from birth she knows first hand how community supports have grown in Ontario. Sandra has had roles in the Ontario Government with the Ministry of Labour as the Manager of the Centre for Disability and Work and as Senior Policy Analyst, Disability Issues and eventually as the Senior Manager, Disability Issues at the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation.

Sandra is proud of the role she played in helping to establish CILT. Her other achievements include the creation of the first ever radio and then television show that featured disability issues and stories (later called Moving On, aired on both CBC television and TV Ontario). While in government she worked to create a centralized accommodation fund for employees with disabilities in Ontario Government, and played a key role in the development of what is now the Direct Funding program operated by CILT.

Website: http://www.cilt.ca/

Portrait of Jason DaSilva Jason DaSilva is a director, producer, writer and disability rights activist best known for the Emmy Award winning documentary, When I Walk. The Emmy award winning film follows his diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis for seven years as he progresses from cane, to walker, to wheelchair.He is also the founder of the non-profit organization AXS Lab and of AXS Map, a crowd sourced Google map based platform which rates the accessibility of businesses. www.axsmap.com

Website: http://wheniwalk.com/about/

Portrait of Pina D'Intino Pina D’Intino is senior consultant at Felix Global Corp. Leadership, AODA compliance, career transition, project management. Pina has 20+ years of experience in the financial services industry as a senior ICT manager at Scotiabank. For the last 15 years, her focus has been sharing critical knowledge on diversity, accessibility and inclusion. She is an advisor on a number of reviews and initiatives for The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and hold a Master of Design in Inclusive Design (MDes, 2013) from OCAD University in Toronto.

Pina is honored to be a 2013 recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding leadership in accessibility for employees, incubating accessibility at the onset of all projects through initial designs and software development to establishing IT accessibility roadmaps and standards across the organization. Above all, creating awareness that diversity and inclusion is a key driver of innovation.

Portrait of Ellen Flanagan Ellen Flanagan is an eOccupational Therapist at Queen’s University and a Team member of AccessTO. http://www.accessto.ca/

Ellen is founder and coordinator of Access Champions a service that fosters accessibility and usability at Queen’s University. The initiative supportes equal access to spaces and activities by helping to provide solutions to barriers, one person at a time.

Website: http://www.accessto.ca/

Portrait of Amy Hanen Amy Hanen is currently the Assistant Vice President Diversity and Employee Experience Analytics for TD Bank Financial Group working closely with TD’s Diversity Leadership Council to develop and execute a broad range of diversity and inclusion strategies for both employees and customers of TD. TD is committed to accessibility and opportunity for people with disabilities and strengthening relationships with major community partners. Some of TD’s innovations in the area include a state of the art Accessible Technologies Lab and a pilot to provide video remote ASL interpreting for employees and customers. Amy was a founding board member of the ALS Society of Toronto. She is currently on the board of the Canadian Abilities Foundation and a trustee of the HALO foundation.
Portrait of Joanna Lehrer Joanna Lehrer graduated from the University of Victoria Faculty of Law and holds honours degrees in Political Science and English Literature from McGill University. Joanna is a criminal defence lawyer working primarily in the GTA, and occasionally throughout Southern and Central Ontario. Prior to law, Joanna directed a charity for Aboriginal youth in the Canadian Arctic. Joanna is a strategic and creative advocate and believes in the principles of justice and that the institutions that enforce and administer justice must be accountable to those principles.
Portrait of Robin Lobb Robin Lobb is Project Manager at Center for Aging, Brain Health and Innovation – Baycrest Hospital. Robin has over a decade of experience focusing on a wide cross-section of challenging health care IT projects in order to build a comprehensive and well-rounded consulting skill set with a desire to contribute in a permanent capacity. He is regularly running multiple projects in multiple areas of business. Specifically, focused on enterprise-level solutions and implementations in which leadership, coaching and relationship management skills are the focus.
Portrait of Aleksandar Poposki Aleksandar Poposki has Cerebral Palsy and his parents decided to immigrate to Canada – Windsor, Ontario in 1988 as it is more accessible than his homeland Macedonia. Aleksandar graduated in Windsor as Computer Software Developer and got married to his wife Nataliia. Shortly after, he and his wife moved to Toronto as it is more accessible, and probably the most accessible city in Canada.

Aleksandar tried obtaining traditional employment shortly after graduating, but found self-employment and working with Nataliia more rewarding and successful. He has worked on municipal contracts as well as for the Toronto tourism industry in managing and developing from small- to large-scale projects, with focus on backend development that are now in-use to streamline day-to-day operations.

In 2010 Aleksandar was fortunate enough to land a 7-year contract from his home office, and now with his wife they are trying to re-launch their business, Ace’s Project Development Inc. by rebranding their website www.aces-project.com and gain more business. Aleksandar also expanding his horizons to include front-end development as well with emphasis on accessible websites.

Portrait of Tracy Schmitt Tracy Schmitt is unstoppable! Despite being a 4 way amputee Tracy has climbed mountains in Nepal, captained 110 foot tall ships in the Eastern Atlantic and received a bronze medal as a paralympian athlete in alpine [that’s downhill] skiing and that’s just her first 20 years! Her latest adventure was as a Quest for the Gold Athlete where Tracy competed in world cup regattas across North America and around the world embarking on a Paralympic Sailing Campaign for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil!

Tracy was Manager of Planning and Integration at the Pan Am and Parapan Am Toronto2015 Games. As a dynamic individual Tracy’s other work experiences include Teaching in the Educational and Corporate Sectors as a Learning and Development Consultant. While at Air Canada she worked simultaneously with management and the competing demands of bankruptcy looming and several unions in order to implement a restructuring plan that enabled Air Canada to maintain its high standards. This experience has enabled her to develop strong negotiating skills and insights on how to make a team supportive and productive.

Website: http://www.unstoppabletracy.com/

Portrait of Michael Skinner Michael Skinner is currently the President and CEO of the Innovation Cluster as well as the Chief Strategy Officer of RainMaker World Wide Inc. Michael is also the 2011 Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Business Citizen of the Year and is one of this years inductees into the Junior Achievement Peterborough, Business Hall of Fame.
Previously, Michael founded Operitel Corporation, a learning software development company that he expanded worldwide. In 2006, Profit Magazine recognized Operitel as one of Canada’s hottest companies and then in 2008 as one of Canada’s fastest growing companies. Operitel has also won the following Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Awards; Entrepreneurial Spirit Award in 2006, Employer of the Year in 2009 and again in 2012. In 2011, Michael had a success exit with Operitel being acquired by OpenText Corporation, Canada’s largest software company.

Website: http://www.innovationcluster.ca/

Portrait of Janice Solomon Janice Solomon is Executive Director at Toronto Entertainment District Business Improvement Area (BIA). The Entertainment District BIA was formed in 2008 and is one of Canada’s largest BIA’s. As Executive Director, Ms. Solomon oversees the day to day management of this mixed use area – with a mandate to promote and enhance the Entertainment District.

Website: http://torontoed.com/

Portrait of Maayan Ziv Maayan Ziv is a visionary young leader. She is an activist, a photographer and an entrepreneur. From a young age, Maayan challenged norms and worked within her community to increase awareness of disability issues and improve accessibility. Living with Muscular Dystrophy, Maayan is a passionate and relentless advocate for creating a more accessible world. In 2015, Maayan founded AccessNow, a crowdsourced app to map the accessibility status of locations worldwide. She has since been a regular media commentator in the media on topics such as disability and inclusion. In 2016, Maayan received the City of Toronto Access Award and the David C. Onley Leadership in Accessibility Award in recognition of her innovative solutions and commitment to improving the lives of people of all abilities. As a photographer, she has worked with celebrities, fashion models and other influential individuals. Her photography has been featured in galleries, magazines and on television. Maayan has received a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in recognition of her work to increase awareness for disabilities in the arts. Maayan also sits on the boards of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto and the Toronto Arts Council. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Arts and a Master’s degree in Digital Media at Ryerson University.

Website: http://accessnow.me/