Brain Injury & 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?

Focus Groups:

What is a focus group?

A focus group is a discussion group that talks about a given subject to gather information from participants. We have three different focus groups that we are running as part of this project.

1) Electoral Employment: Accessibility of Job Descriptions

Purpose of this focus/discussion group: 

This study aims to identify barriers to accessibility and inclusion of working-age candidates living with brain injury, specifically for short-term, temporary job opportunities in a federal election.   Specifically, our focus is on the recruitment language in job descriptions, on work tasks and overall working conditions.

Eligibility Criteria: 
You may be eligible for this study if you are:
  • living with brain injury (self-reported) in Canada,
  • 18 years of age or older,
  • legally able to work in Canada,
  • experienced or interested (in the past or future) in being employed for a municipal, provincial or federal election in Canada.

2) Electoral Employment: Interviewing, Training and Accommodations Focus Group

Purpose of this focus/discussion group:  

The purpose of this discussion group is to evaluate the accessibility of Elections Canada’s employment recruitment process for working-age candidates living with a disability from brain injury. Additionally, you can help to increase the understanding of barriers to employment for individuals living with disabilities from a brain injury.

Eligibility Criteria:  

You may be eligible for this study if you are:

  • living with brain injury (self-reported) in Canada,
  • 18 years of age or older,
  • experienced or interested (in the past or future) in being employed for a municipal, provincial or federal election in Canada.

3) Accessibility of the Voting Process

Purpose of this focus/discussion group:  We are examining the accessibility of federal Elections and determining the potential barriers to voting in federal elections for individuals living with brain injury. By participating in this focus group you will have the opportunity to provide your feedback on the accessibility challenges during federal elections.

Eligibility Criteria:  

You may be eligible for this study if you are:

  • living with brain injury (self-reported) in Canada,
  • 18 years of age or older.


How to get involved:  

To participate in any or all of the focus groups, please fill out the registration survey (approx. 5 minutes).




If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out to our research team via email to our lead researcher Markku Laamanen at [email protected]


Ethics Disclaimer
This project has been reviewed and approved by the Community Research Ethics Board. If you feel you have not been treated according to the descriptions in our information, or your rights as a participant in research have been violated during the course of this project, you may contact the Chair, Community Research Ethics Board, at: Community Research Ethics Office (Canada) Corp. c/o Centre for Community Based Research, 140 Westmount Road North, Waterloo ON N2L 3G5; Email: [email protected]

Project Team

Ainsley Latour
Project Manager

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.

Markku Laamanen

Markku is enthusiastic to join the Brain Injury Canada Team as the lead researcher for the Accessible and Inclusive Electoral Processes project.  Markku has prior experience as researcher focused on inclusive workplaces and accessibility.  As part of his past work on inclusive workplaces at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Markku examined issues around stigma faced by persons living with brain injury in the workplace. During his Master of Public Health, he researched the considerations taken for people with disabilities in relation to the COVID-19 Vaccination effort.  This was done through the creation of an online resource compiling vaccine information from across Canada.  Markku has a passion for scientific research and equitable healthcare for people with disabilities. This passion is supported by his career and volunteer experiences to date. Markku is excited to contribute to Brain Injury Canada’s efforts to achieve equitable participation for persons living with Brian Injury and their caregivers in Canada.

Vienna Valeriani (she/her/elle)

Vienna is thrilled to join Brain Injury Canada’s team as a researcher, contributing to more accessible and inclusive electoral processes through this project. As a native French speaker born in Quebec, she is driven to ensure that the voices of Canadian Francophones, especially those affected by brain injury, are heard and considered in the accessibility dialogue.

Vienna brings her passion and commitment to improving the quality of life for historically marginalized communities. With a strong social commitment evident in her career path as a public health professional within the non-profit sector, Vienna conducted impactful research studies on hearing disabilities among children living with HIV in Haiti. Additionally, she engaged in clinical and advocacy work for asylum seekers in Quebec and supported a national health service delivery program during the pandemic with the Canadian Redcross. Vienna is honored to take part in this meaningful community-led research project to help develop standards in the field of accessibility for individuals with brain injuries.

More information about the project