Equitable Digital Systems

By Vera Roberts

EDS: Equitable Digital Systems logo

The Future of Work: Equitable Digital Systems project is an initiative at the Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University, examining the accessibility of the digital tools and systems we rely upon for work. The focus of the project is on ensuring that current and emerging technology and digital systems and their associated practices are meeting the needs of and enabling work for people with disabilities. The project looks specifically at systems used by organizations that are regulated by the Accessible Canada Act, Bill C-81.

One of the primary goals of the Equitable Digital Systems project is to create a catalogue of the digital systems in use by organizations under Bill C-81. The purpose of cataloguing these digital systems is to develop a comprehensive overview of the tools being used in workplaces so the accessibility barriers can be better understood and addressed. The project also uses a comparative approach by using the international policy landscape to analyze local accessibility standards, regulations and guidelines for digital systems. This analysis of international policies will help to identify the current gaps in Canadian regulations and will inform local stakeholders about the areas where both policy and practice can improve. This analysis will also identify where Canadian policy can lead international policy. In the process, we seek to capitalize on opportunities for inclusive design as we analyze the best strategies for the ethical integration of digital systems in the workplace.

To fill the regulatory gaps that we find in our research, we are hosting co-design sessions with our partner organizations and people with disabilities. The insights and recommendations we receive from our co-design sessions will help us to prevent new accessibility barriers in emerging digital systems. Our participatory approach ensures that our research is community-driven and represents the voices of the people most impacted by these technologies.

We are developing an accessible open online resource site where our research will be stored. This online resource will be designed to provide people with disabilities with up-to-date and accurate information about emerging technology as it relates to disability and employment. It will serve as a repository to help people with disabilities understand the specific risks and opportunities of these technologies.

Throughout the Equitable Digital Systems project, people with disabilities will lead the direction and outcomes of research, as we carve a path toward equitable and inclusive digital systems.

The partners on this project are:

L’Arche Canada
Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility
March of Dimes Canada
Fable Tech Labs Iris Institute
READ Initiative and Canadian Accessibility Network
Centre for Independent Living Toronto
Canadian Council of the Blind