Innovation challenge hopes to reduce barriers for people with disabilities

posted on November 12, 2021

‘We’re missing out on a huge pool of willing labour when we have a labour shortage’

Several companies are coming up with solutions to address barriers to employment for people with disabilities.

Recently, Toronto-based Lime Connect won a $50,000 grant for its support of university students and professionals (including veterans) with disabilities in accessing work. The funding will support the launch of a new online platform highlighting careers, education and community in the disability talent space.

The funding was provided by the Inclusive Design Challenge: Access to Work launched by urban innovation non-profit MaRS and CIBC, which called on innovators to submit solutions meant to help remove barriers to employment faced by Canadians who live with disability.

Runners-up SenseTech Solutions and Zera Café will each receive $20,000, while Liebs&Co. and SPOT will be awarded prizes of $5,000 each.

Access to Work is the first of four challenges in the initiative.

“Inclusive Design Challenge is really a series of crowd-sourced competitions where we’re asking the disability community and allies to come forward with solutions to common barriers to employment for people with disabilities,” says Tim Rose, member of CIBC’s inclusion and diversity team, in speaking with Canadian HR Reporter.

“We recognize that the unemployment numbers for people with disabilities are very, very high. And in order to address that problem, innovation and new approaches are needed.”

Overall, the first challenge was a success as it received 60 submissions, he says. The second challenge will be launched Dec. 1.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of those with severe disabilities say that companies are bad at hiring people with disabilities, while 46 per cent say the same about the supports offered by corporate Canada to disabled employees, according to a recent report.

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