Youth Roundtable Consultations
In early 2022, Accessibility Standards Canada held two roundtables for youth living with disabilities. The roundtables marked the start of our youth engagement efforts. Input from the roundtables helped us to:
- begin to inform this demographic about our organization and its mandate;
- gather preliminary feedback from youth on what they see as barriers to accessibility to inform our standards and research priorities; and
- gain a better understanding of how best to engage with youth moving forward.
About the event
Partners from across diverse disability communities helped to identify participants for this engagement. One roundtable was in English and the other in French.
- were aged 15 to 30;
- represented the diversity of Canada and Canadian youth living with disabilities; and
- represented many different regions from across Canada.
The English session was held on Tuesday, February 22, 2022. The French session was held on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.
- The virtual event was held on the Zoom platform.
- The Honorable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, delivered an inspirational message.
Accessibility features and accommodations included:
- American Sign Language interpretation;
- interprétation en langue des signes québécoise;
- plain language for all written documents; and
- alternative document formats for assistive technologies.
To meet its objectives of learning more about the kinds of barriers faced by youth with disabilities, and how to best engage them moving forward, Accessibility Standards Canada prepared four thematic discussion topics. Participants were divided into facilitated discussion groups of 6-8 youth. The four themes were:
- Barriers to Accessibility
- Barriers to the Workforce
- How we Engage With Youth
- Emerging solutions to barriers
What we heard
The discussions were lively and yielded insightful information. Here is a small sample of what was heard:
- The service industry hires many young employees. It can be hard to ask for accommodations in this industry.
- Working online from home offers unique opportunities and challenges.
- Mentorship from managers and senior employees is valuable. This is especially true for newer employees who live with disabilities.
- Many participants noted that they are mostly considered for jobs about disability (i.e. employers not seeing past their disability/disabilities).
- Plain language in print and digital media is important for clear communication.
- Participants noted it can be embarrassing to ask for basic accessibility features or accommodations at:
- school; and
- public spaces like businesses and entertainment venues.
- Diverse communities, such as Indigenous youth with disabilities, have unique needs.
- Young people living with disabilities need to be included in the development of standards to make sure accessibility practices are:
- relevant; and
- Young people want to stay engaged and see their input translate into action.
Accessibility Standards Canada analyzed what was heard from participants to:
- determine what elements are already being addressed through its work (e.g. plain language standard);
- incorporate what was heard for current and future research and standards development; and
- inform future youth engagement and events.
One topic we heard about were the barriers that youth with disabilities face when transitioning from school to work. This has been added as a priority area for our research funding program.
Suggestions that fall outside of the mandate will be passed on to other departments or jurisdictions for their consideration, as appropriate.