Brain Injury and Accessibility of the Electoral Process in Canada
Did you know that many persons with Canada who live with brain injury experience significant barriers to participation in federal elections? Those barriers show up in the voter registration process, communication of candidate platforms, voting, and in seeking and/or sustaining employment at Elections Canada.
Brain Injury Canada is excited to announce a new research project focused on these issues.
Duration of Project: Spring 2023 to late Winter 2026
Who is funding this work?
Accessibility Standards Canada is funding this work. The outcomes of the project will be communicated to the federal government and used to draft standards to facilitate accessible elections in Canada.
Why is this Project Important?
Brain injuries often result in disabilities with cognitive, physical, behavioural, and emotional impairments, which can have a devastating effect on an individual’s ability to participate meaningfully at home, in their workplace and in the broader community. There are currently no standards developed to support those living with brain injury, yet persons with brain injury represent approximately 5% of the Canadian adult population.
About the Project Goal
The purpose of our project is to identify barriers for persons living with brain injury that prevent them from fully participating in federal electoral processes, including voting, voter registration, accessing candidate platforms, and employment with Elections Canada. Our project involves an international scan for any policies or standards facilitating inclusive and accessible elections, as well as an accessibility review of election related communications and employment policies and procedures. Persons with brain injury will be engaged in virtual sessions to “re design” electoral practices with accessibility as a priority. Appropriate and fair compensation will be provided for all participants impacted by brain injury in these sessions.
What are some of the project objectives?
- To identify the impact of the pandemic on the accessibility of elections and related activities in the electoral system for persons living with brain injury in Canada.
- To identify international best practices for accessible electoral processes
- To conduct virtual sessions in French and English, with Canadian’s who live with brain injury from across our country to identify barriers and potential ways to mitigate, remove and prevent barriers from participation in future elections and related electoral activities.
- To identify barriers to accessible and inclusive employment with Elections Canada for persons living with brain injury
- To review the accessibility of relevant print based materials
- To disseminate the findings of this study; using a variety of communication strategies to the federal government, to provincial and local electoral bodies, to the Canadian public, and to relevant international bodies
Who are the project partners?
Project partners include the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Neurological Health Charities Canada, Hydrocephalus Canada, and the Inclusive Design Center at OCAD University.
What opportunities are there for persons living with brain injury, and their caregivers and/or service provides to get involved in this important work?
Brain Injury Canada is looking for members for the Project Advisory Group! This group will provide feedback on the progress of the project, and ensure that the interests of Canadians living with brain injury remain are well represented throughout the project. The project advisory committee will meet for the first time in fall 2023. Meetings of the project advisory committee will be once every 3-4 months, for approximately three years. Meetings will be held virtually. An honoraria will be provided to non-professional members of the project advisory group. Accessibility supports will be provided for all meetings. Applicants must be eligible to vote in Canada. We are prioritizing membership for those living with brain injury and their caregivers. Professional (service providers, researchers in academia/healthcare) are also welcome to apply.
If you are interested in submitting an application to join the project advisory group, click here to find additional information on eligibility requirements as well as an online applicant survey.
Ainsley is excited to join the staff at Brain Injury Canada as the project manager of a new research project focused on inclusive and accessible electoral processes. Ainsley has experience conducting accessibility focused research projects within the community. That is, research conducted by people with disabilities (and their allies) outside of post-secondary institutions on accessibility. She believes strongly in persons with brain injury and/or other disabilities as capable research professionals. Ainsley has a diversity of professional interests and skills. She has worked at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind as a research consultant, where she focused on accessible workplaces for persons with sensory disabilities. During her masters, she volunteered as a researcher on a national project with the goal of understanding the experience of graduate students with disabilities in Canada. She’s also supported a variety of Canadian non-profit organizations in their inclusion, equity, diversity and accessibility work as an independent IDEA consultant. Ainsley loves science, and practices as a medical laboratory technologist in clinical genetics.
She is passionate about creating opportunities for person with brain injury to experience belonging in their communities. She has been a volunteer for Young Adult Cancer Canada, facilitating programs for young adults with brain tumours and other types of cancer.