Keynote – 2017 Accessibility Conference
Accelerating the Impact of Inclusion – Leveraging Multi-Partner Collaboration and Resources
Meenu Sikand, Accessibility for All
Founder of the AfA (Accessibility for All), Meenu Sikand, a Canadian immigrant with a disability of South-Asian origin brings 30 years of personal and professional experience advancing the disability agenda nationally and globally with a passion to improve employment situation of WWD (Women with Disabilities). Under her leadership, AfA focuses on public education campaigns to raise disability and diversity awareness, human rights and AODA (first accessibility legislation in Canada), training and development of multi-year Accessibility Plans and accessibility policies for government, NGOs and the private sector to remove accessibility barriers strategically. AfA has a strong knowledge of accessibility standards in areas of employment, customer services, health, transportation, built environment, and information and communication. The AODA is now being replicated in Canadian Federal legislation and AfA will continue to engage its networks within corporate, government and NGO sectors to implement the federal accessibility legislation.
Meenu Sikand, the lead presenter has been working as an accessibility planning specialist for a Regional government and a trainer for the Queen’s University International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR) program. Meenu is an alumnus of Mobility International USA’s (MIUSA) first batch of the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability program and holds a Master’s degree in Critical Disabilities Studies from York University. Sikand was awarded an IDEAS 2000 research fellowship, to assist MIUSA with its first International Symposium on Microcredit for Women with Disabilities and to write the report “Economic Inclusion: Successful Participation of WWD in International Micro Credit Programs” to dispel the myths among various lending institutions and to increase participation of WWD in small business ventures to gain self-sufficiency
To address the unmet service needs of South-Asians with disabilities in Canada, in 1995, she founded the Canadian South-Asians Supporting Independent Living. Meenu is an internationally sought Disability Rights advocate who is promoting strategies to strengthen Human Rights of persons with disabilities in Canada and around the world. Her passion is to create accessible, inclusive and welcoming communities that embrace everyone.
In April 2013, Meenu was invited by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) as an expert witness for the federal study “Exploring Employment Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities”.
Her most recent international development work was in Bangladesh for a project Access to Health and Education for All Children and Youth with Disabilities (AHEAD). As an instructor for Queen’s University, she developed and delivered a peer support training program for youth and women with disabilities, “Peer Support Essentials” and introduction to accessibility planning to empower and educate children and youth with disabilities in Bangladesh.