From August 8-10, 2015, the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, in partnership with the Government of Ontario, hosted the first-ever Accessibility Innovation Showcase, exhibiting the latest advances in accessibility technologies and assistive devices from both sides of the border. Celebrating the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 10th anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) as well as marking the Parapan Am Games 2015 in Toronto, the AIS demonstrated advances in technology, design, and policy in both the United States and Canada. The showcase aimed at promoting disability inclusive diplomacy and attracted large delegations of government and private sector leaders, para-athletes, and spectators in Toronto as well as provided the perfect setting for innovators, investors and other stakeholders to make deals and accelerate innovation. Some of the U.S. companies participating in the AIS included Re-Walk Robotics, AlterG, Inc. and Pathway Accessibility Solutions Inc.
U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman joined Governor General David Johnston, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Sport and Pan Am/Parapan Games Michael Coteau, Toronto Mayor John Tory and other dignitaries and guests at the Opening Reception of the Accessibility Innovation Showcase on Saturday, August 8, 2015.
“The Accessibility Innovation Showcase is a tribute to the power of partnership so that, together, the United States and Canada can build a better future for all of our citizens,” said Ambassador Heyman during his opening remarks. “Disability rights is a social justice and human rights issue. In tandem with the 2015 Para Pan Am Games in Toronto, this showcase provides an ideal opportunity to demonstrate that disability rights are a fundamental element of democracy and are a path to creating a truly inclusive society.”
Over three days, the AIS featured speakers on disability rights and accessibility; stalls for businesses to showcase durable medical equipment (DME) and assistive technology products; match-making and networking events promoting investment and trade, and connecting businesses, health care providers, universities, disability rights advocates, and athletes; and an accessibility/assistive technology hack-a-thon. The U.S. speakers included David Capozzi, Executive Director United States Access Board, Chris Waddell, an American Paralympic athlete and Dr. Rory Cooper, Director Human Engineering Research Laboratories University of Pittsburgh.