History of Accessible U

“Accessibility information just isn’t… accessible.” This is the refrain heard from stakeholders who have mobility issues and those who work in this area. Knowledge and information that would help to improve the lives of people with limited mobility exists, but it is difficult to locate and to translate into practice. Accessible Housing is seeking to change this.

Increasingly, organizations are embracing the premise captured in the proverb, “faster alone, further together”. Organizations that engage stakeholders early and meaningfully in the design of initiatives are more likely to develop highly relevant products and services that are embraced by the community for which they are intended. Recognizing the importance of such engagement, Accessible Housing’s team for this initiative, led by Nicole Jackson (Coordinator, Research and Policy) and Anita Hofer (Communications Advisor), worked with Creating Value Inc’s, Jill Andres, to develop an approach that would actively engage representatives from each stakeholder group to conceptualize Accessible U.

The resultant engagement and design process included multiple steps.

Stakeholder mapping, interviews, and creation of a ‘Design Team’

Stakeholder groups were mapped to consider representation of all perspectives on the design team. The following groups were identified: people with disablities, service providers, community advocates, health professionals, community associations, provincial government, municipal government, academia, and the construction industry. The following Design Team was convened:

  • Leanne Squair, The City of Calgary
  • Ulrik Seward, The City of Calgary
  • Ralph Hubele, Government of Alberta
  • Natalie Badenduck, Mount Royal University
  • Karen Ryan, Ryan Murphy Construction
  • Lara Murphy, Ryan Murphy Construction
  • Magda Mouneimne, Alberta Health Services
  • Kathy De Haas, Alberta Health Services
  • Heather Moore, Alberta Children’s Hospital
  • Sharon Campbell, Carewest
  • Bev Babuk, MS Society
  • Donovan Tymchyshyn, Vecova
  • Kasey Aiello, SCI-AB
  • Cheri McDougall, Kerby Centre
  • Tara Zyla, URSA
  • Mark Iantkow, Academic + Community
  • Stephanie Meyers, SCI-AB
A photograph of a table full of people working on a design team exercise Design Session 1
Design Session 1

Design Session 1

An initial design workshop was hosted to develop a high-level, content-focused design for Accessible U, based on the draft vision and goals articulated by Accessible Housing. Using a human-centered design approach, the group explored past expeirences seeking or sharing information related to accessibility, online.

Design Session 2

A second design workshop moved from a blue-sky approach to a more grounded discussion of the goal/purpose of Accessible U, target audience profile, values, content, sources of information, and potential structure for the website. 

A room full of community members at the Community Engagement Session Community Engagement Session
Community Engagement Session

Community Engagement Session

After the design sessions concluded, we planned engagement of the broader stakeholder community to provide feedback on, and further insight into, the design of Accessible U. With Jay MacGillivray of Structured Abstraction, Accessible U's web developer, present at both design sessions, we had the foundation to build a visual representation of Accessible U to present to the community. This engagement session presented initial information architecture with neutral design elements, a list of target audiences, and a list of potential resources to be featured on Accessible U. Attendees were invited to help prioritize the resources to be featured on Accessible U using voting stickers.