Announcing the MaRS and CIBC Inclusive Design Challenge: Support at Work Winners

Announcing the MaRS and CIBC Inclusive Design Challenge: Support at Work Winners

MaRS and CIBC are pleased to announce the winners of the Inclusive Design Challenge: Support At Work, on this Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

The Accommodating and Communicating about Episodic Disabilities (ACED) partnership team, based at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto, has won the $50,000 grand prize for its development of tools and resources to support the sustained employment of persons living with physical, cognitive and mental-health disabilities.

Runners-up Magnify Access and Moonlight Haptics will each receive $20,000, while Optical and Viability (soon to be Neurodivergent Futures) will be awarded the honourable-mention prizes of $5,000 each. These organisations impressed the judges with bold solutions that improve support at work for persons with disabilities.

See below and learn how the challenge winners are applying their solutions.





 Accommodating and Communicating about Episodic Disabilities (grand prize winner)

Accommodating and Communicating about Episodic Disabilities (ACED) is a partnership of researchers (largely based at the Institute for Work & Health) and non-profit health charities that is developing interactive, evidence-based tools and resources to support the sustained employment of persons living with physical, cognitive and mental-health disabilities.

People living with disabilities are often unsure how to best communicate their needs and, like many of their supervisors, are often unaware of the support strategies that can help. ACED has created the Job Demands and Accommodation Planning Tool (JDAPT), an easy-to-use online tool that helps people identify the demands of a job that may create barriers, as well as provides personalized strategies to help them overcome the challenges.

The JDAPT can make it easier for persons with disabilities to get workplace support by directing their attention to their individual needs and the range of concrete supports available to address them. This can lead to greater confidence and self-efficacy among workers living with disabilities and, in turn, improve the quality and sustainability of their employment participation.



Magnify Access (runner-up)

Magnify Access develops digital solutions to support the diverse and inclusive needs of people with disabilities. Its mission is to create solutions that transform services while improving access and efficiency. The Workplace Accommodation System (W-PAS) is a virtual accommodation hub designed to be a secure and confidential repository, storing the accommodation needs of staff with disabilities. This system provides an accessible means for employees to identify their accommodation needs and employers to assess and support the accommodations. Magnify Access envisions a paradigm shift in how organisations manage the accommodation process. W-PAS can help change the workplace by reducing discomfort and workload, and ensuring access to an equitable and accommodating work environment.



Moonlight Haptics (runner-up)

Moonlight Haptics is a haptics company creating a wearable haptic device, capable of providing individuals with severe visual impairment the ability to “see” through touch. The device takes information from the environment and translates it into a comprehensible image through vibrations felt through the back, allowing users to learn and “view” their surroundings anywhere and anytime. Moonlight Haptics offers incredible adaptability and accessibility within the workplace, improved maneuverability around the workplace, and less restrictions to the available tasks that can be completed.


Optical (honourable mention)

Optical improves letter legibility control for varied low vision.  While alphabets were created for paper, reading hasn’t changed much in the last few thousand years. Research suggests ways to clarify the written word for low vision and new technology has improved font customization and interaction. Optical’s font family and browser extension give people with low vision the ability to tailor legibility to their unique vision.



Viability (soon to be Neurodivergent Futures; honourable mention)

Viability is a neurodiverse team working to create ND∞Connect, an accessible web app that supports neurodivergent people at work in three important ways:

1. By removing barriers that neurodivergent people experience in traditional networking processes (e.g., implicit neurotypical social norms, information overload, etc.)

2. By making networking, community building and mentorship between neurodivergent people more widely available

3. By using crowdsourcing to help us create innovative, effective and data-driven solutions that support businesses in becoming neuroinclusive

At its core, ND∞Connect improves support at work by making it easier for individuals to get career advice from people who both understand their jobs and their lived experiences, and by creating systemic change so that workplaces start to support disabled people by default.


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