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In this article, we describe the experience of creating a profile as a consultant on The Accessibility Exchange.

Connecting with others online

Since the start of the global pandemic of COVID 19, meeting online, whether for school, work or romance, has become commonplace. Over the past two years, many of us have become familiar with the many platforms that help us make those connections. 

A new platform

The Accessibility Exchange is a new online platform that brings people together to build strong and effective accessibility plans. Diverse people with disabilities and Deaf people including Black, Indigenous and people of colour, 2SLGBTQI+ and other identities can assist federally regulated organizations in complying with the Accessible Canada Act. People with disabilities and Deaf people will be paid for sharing their lived expertise.

Building accessibility right into the software

The Accessibility Exchange Platform is being developed from the ground up by the Inclusive Design Research Centre. Ned Zimmerman, Senior Inclusive Developer on the project, explained that “existing software tended to prioritize the needs of the employers, and we wanted to prioritize the needs of the accessibility consultants seeking work”. Cheryl Li who is Senior Inclusive Designer on the project said, “We wanted a platform with integrated accessibility for different disabilities and none of the existing platforms offered that. We wanted to build access right into the software, whereas with existing platforms, accessibility tends to get added as an afterthought in ways that our advisory group identified as problematic."

Joining The Accessibility Exchange

Let’s say Aisha, a person with a disability, decides to register on The Accessibility Exchange. She chooses “individual” for her role for the profile she will create. Under the options for ways to consult, she selects “consultation participant” because she wants to gain some experience with the platform, the Act, and what the clients are looking for before offering her services as an accessibility consultant. 

Detailed information helps The Accessibility Exchange find great matches

As she completes her profile, Aisha is asked to detail any related experience, her disabilities, her age, location and ethnicity. That’s a lot of private information so Aisha reads over the privacy and confidentiality information. She is reassured when she learns that The Accessibility Exchange encrypts her confidential information, and takes her privacy seriously. She feels confident when she reads that the Inclusive Design Research Centre, the group creating the platform, is using best practice measures to protect the platform and its confidential information. 

Aisha learns that as a consultation participant, her profile is hidden and not seen by other registered users. If she later decides to register as an Accessibility Consultant or as a Community Connector, her profile would be visible by other registered members of the platform.

Being invited to contribute as a consultation participant on The Accessibility Exchange

Once Aisha finishes her profile, she logs off. Before long, Aisha receives a message from the platform that there is an invitation from an airline to join a focus group. Aisha now has the option of joining the focus group or declining. To help her decide, she visits the airline’s profile on the platform. She also learns that if she declines, she will receive another invitation once the platform selects her profile for another engagement. 

Aisha decides to accept and awaits further information about how to proceed to join the focus group. 

Making the decision to join The Accessibility Exchange helps build a better and more accessible Canada. Please join the mailing list to keep informed of when The Accessibility Exchange launches so that you can register and start sharing your lived experience of disability or being Deaf.