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Our community hub is a learning lab and inclusion incubator, providing a unique opportunity to measure and evaluate how we are improving quality of life through social inclusion, economic participation and health and well-being.

Early in the pandemic, it was recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic would have a profound impact on provincial, national and global health, social and economic systems and quality of life for all Canadians. Abilities Centre recognized the need for a comprehensive approach for governments, communities, businesses and community organizations to lay the foundation for a new model of crisis response and recovery that considers economic participation, health & well-being and social inclusion. The Access Project actively engages persons with disabilities, those with lived experience and experts to identify immediate and emerging needs, while supporting the co-creation and production of strategies designed to meet these needs. 

a circle with text reads 1000 AC Vritual page visits with icons of a laptop, a globe, and a clipboard
The National Disability Survey grew from the Access Project and AC’s partnership with the Canadian Disability Participation Project (CDPP).
National Disability Survey

The COVID-19 National Disability Survey was launched to record the experiences, concerns and needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery period. 

National Disability Survey Abilities Centre and
the Canadian Disability Participant Project –

a circle with text reads 1326 AC Virtual page visits with icons of a laptop, a globe, and a clipboard


Respondents of National Disability Survey

a bar graph representing Chart representing Province or territory or residence:  NWT, Yukon, Nunavut 1%25  Saskatchewan 1%25  Manitoba 1%25  Quebec 3%25  PEI, NS, N&L, NB 5%25  Alberta 10%25  British Columbia 32%25   Ontario 48%25

The survey’s findings provide important information to help communities ensure that COVID-19 response strategies meet the needs of people of all abilities.

To date multiple reports have been produced based on responses. 

COVID-19 Disability Survey
COVID-19 Disability Survey- Plain Language 
COVID-19 Disability Survey- ASL 

The survey and report are accessible and available in
English, ASL, Plain Language and French. 

Access Project Partnering Organizations logos listed: Canadian Disability Participation Project, University of British Columbia, Queen’s University, Rick Hansen Foundation, Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance, Canadian Labour Congress.

COVID-19 National Disability Survey Presentations:

  •     Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility (Ontario)
  •     Ministry of Accessibility Legislation (British Columbia)
  •     Municipality of Clarington – Accessibility Committee
  •     Town of Whitby – Accessibility Committee
  •     Parks and Recreation Ontario
  •     City of Pickering – Accessibility Committee
  •     COVID-19 National Disability Survey Abstracts & Publications
  •     ICORD Annual Research Meeting 
Conference abstracts related to COVID-19 National Disability Survey results

Gee CM, Hoekstra F, Ubeda-Colomer J, Sinden AR, Knibbe TJ, DaSilva P, Martin Ginis KA. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the needs and wellbeing of Canadians with disability. ICORD Annual Research Meeting, March 1, 2021. 4th UK Implementation Science Research Conference

Hoekstra, F., DaSilva, P., Gee, C., Knibbe, T.J, O’Neill, M., Sinden, A.R., Úbeda-Colomer, J., Martin Ginis, K.A. Monitoring and evaluating the impact of a research partnership project on the needs of Canadians with disabilities during and after the COVID-19 pandemic: The COVID-19 Disability Survey. Accepted for Oral Presentation at 4th UK Implementation Science Research Conference.


Abilities Centre Journey (Participant and Member)

Abilities Centre Journey is a framework developed through cross departmental collaboration, to provide participants and members with meaningful participation from registration, to their selected programs and then planning for future program opportunities. The framework starts with an introduction of the array of programs (Thrive, Pathways, EmployABILITIES, Leadership in Training, Therapeutic Recreation, etc.) available at Abilities Centre to the participants. This introduction is aligned with the participant profile with assesses participants needs, goals, interest and priorities. Implementing this framework has allowed AC staff to gain a better understanding of who we are serving at the outset, allowing for engaging programming and follow-up through their journey at Abilities Centre and beyond.  

Initial implementation of the Abilities Centre Journey with our program participants has been very successful, allowing program leads across departments to work together to ensure participants are accessing programs that will meet their needs as indicated in their participant profile. Using the AC Journey process, staff from different programs along with the participants collaborate on the development of transition plans, allowing for a more cohesive mapping of the participant journey.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility 



In December 2020, Yin Brown joined Abilities Centre as the new Director, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) to lead the IDEA initiative organization wide.

Initial IDEA Strategic Priorities

  • Communication to promote and demonstrate accessibility and inclusion
  • Planning of Outreach activities to engage diverse communities
  • Accountability Structure to track and evaluate IDEA progress
  • Goals achieved since IDEA inception (Dec 2020):
  • Operationalizing the results from Anti Black racism focus groups for staff and leadership
  • Board inclusion training with Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI)
  • Financially committed to becoming an Employer partner with CCDI which gives Abilities Centre staff access to: ​Monthly webinars for all staff focused on diversity and inclusion learnings, annual communities in practice events, and additional toolkits and templates through CCDI’s Knowledge Repository
  • IDEA content embedded in monthly AC staff newsletters 
  • Employee support group, IDEA Ambassadors, established for peer support
  • AC core demographic survey developed in partnership with the Research department for use across all departments
  • Accessibilty Advisory Committee revamped into the IDEA Advisory Council with wider scope 
  • Digital accessibility training workshop on producing accessible documents and web content developed
  • Guideline resources developed for Public Health 
  • Education    

Physical Literacy & Inclusion


In addition to working with community organizations, Abilities Centre partnered with Durham college and Brock University to facilitate Physical Literacy and Inclusion workshops virtually for post-secondary students. The workshops provided a foundation of knowledge focusing on the importance of developing spaces and environments that are inclusive and explore innovative ways to encompass physical literacy as a holistic view including the benefits outside a sports lens. 

Workshops allowed post-secondary students to 
not only gain the fundamental knowledge of inclusion but the experiential learning opportunity to take what they have learned, become creative and innovative through implementing their findings 

- Kelly Kasper and Adam Fitzpatrick PL&I instructors 

4 pie graphs representing 80%25 of participants indicated workshop exceeded expectations 90%25 of participants were very satisfied with information content 85%25 of participants were very satisfied with engagement of presenters 90%25 of participants were very satisfied with organization of training

Workshop participant quote in a magenta bubble: In terms of content, I feel the newfound knowledge of the individual and deeper benefits to physical literacy and mixed ability programs will be beneficial as a future practitioner. As well, the segregation, integration and inclusion graphic provides a very easy-to-understand visual about a difficult-to-grasp intangible concept. Finally the focus of ‘transformational change’ is very inspiring!  -Workshop participant

A Pie graph representing 198 participants 8 training workshops held - Abilities Centre staff - Durham College  - Brock University  - Ukraine – FootyStar  - Ottawa International Soccer Club(OISC) - ParticipACTION - YMCA Markham - YMCA Oshawa

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