Accessibility and inclusion


Life Made Accessible - Online Event

National AccessAbility Week (NAAW), May 31 to June 6, is a time when accessibility and inclusion are promoted across communities and workplaces, and a time to celebrate the contributions of Canadians with disabilities. It is an opportunity to recognize the efforts of Canadians who are actively removing barriers and ensuring persons with disabilities have an equal chance to participate in all aspects of Canadian society.

Join us from Monday, June 1 to Friday, June 5, 2020, 1 - 2 p.m. for our virtual event “Life Made Accessible” in honor of National AccessAbility Week – a series of guest speaker events, featuring Waterloo Region’s experts on disability and those who help shape the face of inclusion.

ASL interpreters, closed captioning and transcription services have been sponsored by the City of Kitchener and the City of Waterloo.

Accessibility 101
What does the word “accessible” mean to you? Does it mean ensuring all people in our community, and around the world, are able to live in a way that allows them to fully participate in society, with dignity and quality of life?  Think about your day-to-day; would your workplace be able to accommodate an employee with a disability?  Could your favourite grocery store, hair salon or restaurant?  In this presentation, a panel of individuals with lived experience will discuss:
  • The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA),
  • How to make workplaces and businesses more accessible,
  • Barriers that people living with disabilities encounter,
  • Positive changes that are happening in our society surrounding accessibility.  

Date: Monday, June 1

Time: 1 - 2 p.m.

Register: June 1 - Accessibility 101

 The Connection Between Mental Health, Disability and COVID-19

Worldwide, humans are living through unprecedented times.  COVID-19 has affected every aspect of “normal” life.  Nevertheless, for many individuals living with a disability, being in “lockdown” is not a new phenomenon. What we are experiencing collectively is their everyday life, and the pandemic is giving able-bodied people a glimpse into the daily life of those living with disabilities. In this session, we will discuss mental health and tools that people with disabilities have used to deal with isolation and loneliness.  We will also address how the pandemic has prompted changes that those with disabilities have been requesting for years, such as working from home, and how we can contribute to a more inclusive and accessible community, whether you have a disability or not. 

Date: Tuesday, June 2

Time: 1 - 2 p.m.

Register: June 2 - Mental Health, Disability & COVID-19

 The Labour of Living with a Disability

Many people who live with disabilities, as well as their caregivers, spend much of their time and energy dealing with additional paperwork, extra procedures, and steps to receive or access products/services. This can include requesting accommodations at work or school, waiting months for a medical specialist’s signature to be eligible for benefits, or asking family members to help. This presentation will focus on the extra steps that those living with disabilities have to take in order to get the services they need to live without barriers. Our panelists will discuss topics such as digital, systemic and hidden barriers in education and the workforce, self-advocacy, caregiving for those with a disability, being a caregiver with a disability, and inclusion and belonging. 

Date: Wednesday, June 3

Time: 1 - 2 p.m.

Register: June 3 - Labour of Living with a Disability

 Disability Within Family

When a family member has a disability, the family dynamic can be different.  Each family member experiences a disability through their own unique lens and perspective.  In this session, our panelists will discuss their family dynamic and how they manage complex challenges that other families may not have to address. How are relationships between each member changed? What does parenting look like when the parent or child lives with a disability?  What is it like when roles are reversed, and the child, or children, are caring for a parent with a disability? Is there a difference when the disability is visible versus invisible?  

Date: Thursday, June 4

Time: 1 - 2 p.m.

Register: June 4 - Disability Within the Family

Experiencing Disability: Personal Stories

What does disability look like to you? What image pops up? For many reasons, people can draw on a stereotypical perception of what disability is. In order to have a better understanding of disabilities, and their effects on people, we will hear the voices and stories of those with lived experience. Come listen, ask and learn from those living with disabilities; become an ally. In this session, individuals will open up and share their lived experiences with disability, discussing their everyday lives, including education, employment and families. They will share not just their struggles and challenges, but also their achievements and stories of success.  These experts will describe just how important inclusion is and how everyone benefits when every person feels part of their community.  

Date: Friday, June 5

Time: 1 - 2 p.m.

Register: June 5 - Personal Stories

Our event partners are: 

  • Bridges to Belonging Waterloo Region
  • Canadian Hearing Services
  • Canadian National Institute for the Blind
  • City of Kitchener
  • City of Waterloo
  • Community Support Connections: Meals and Wheels and More
  • Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region
  • Kitchener Waterloo AccessAbility 

Accessibility and Inclusion

No matter your age or ability level - there are countless ways for you to get involved in your community.

Our goal is to remove barriers and provide accessible goods, services and facilities for all of our residents. Working with the Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee (GRAAC), and guided by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act,2005, as well as our own accessibility plan and accessibility policy. We aim towards providing accessible goods, services and facilities.

Alternate formats, communication supports and accommodations

If you require an accessible document or support to take part in a city meeting or city program, let us know - we're happy to accommodate you.

Or, contact Nadine McNeelands, Inclusion Services Coordinator, program and resource services, at 519-741-2200, ext. 7229 (TTY 1-866-969-9994).

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