Halifax-based non-profit goes digital for week-long conference on accessibility and inclusion

Celebrations for this year’s National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) are going digital.

Due to COVID-19, the team at Halifax-based non-profit, reachAbility, has turned their annual conference into an online festival that includes live workshops, speakers, presentations and more — open to everyone and at no cost.

NAAW celebrates and recognizes contributions made by persons with disabilities and those who are actively removing barriers for everyone in Canada.

Since COVID-19 put restrictions on public gatherings, staff at reachAbility decided to take NAAW 2020 to a fully accessible online format.

The digital conference will feature a speaker series featuring leaders in inclusion and accessibility from the arts to business, government to non-profit.

There will also be live discussions from experts in the fields of mental health, social justice and human rights as well as the Accessible Canada Act (ACA), unanimously passed in 2019 in the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada.

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The act protects people with mental and physical disabilities from discrimination.

READ MORE: Halifax non-profit ensuring accessibility, inclusion during COVID-19

“We at reachAbility felt we can’t let National AccessAbility Week pass by,” Tova Sherman, founder and CEO of reachAbility says.

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“We felt we had to acknowledge the ACA.”

reachAbility provides supportive and accessible programs for individuals facing barriers to inclusion and community participation.  They serve the public, private and non-governmental organizations.

NAAW guest speakers include Halifax mayor Mike Savage, Nova Scotia 2020 National AccessAbility Week Ambassador, April Hubbard and Executive Chairman of Mental Health International, Bill Wilkerson, who will present a new paper on artificial intelligence and depression.

Deputy Minister, Public Service Accessibility Yazmine Laroche, who implemented the Accessible Canada Act will speak as well as Rob Catalano, CEO at Work Tango who works closely with reachAbility in their Inclusion in Action program.

Catalano will speak on how businesses, non-governmental organizations and public sectors will comply with the Accessible Canada Act.

READ MORE: Halifax New Year’s Eve celebration at Grand Parade aims to be accessible for first time

“Everyone in Nova Scotia and in Canada will have had, has or will have a disability,” Sherman says.

“Let’s find a reason to celebrate inclusion and the incredible things that people with disabilities achieve every single day in their workplace, in their lives, with their families and with their children.”

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The NAAW digital conference starts Sunday, May 31 and runs until Saturday, June 6.  For more information and to participate, visit reachability.org

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