BridgeAbility Logo with the word "Bridge" in dark blue and the word "Ability" in light blue with a arch over the words

The BridgeAbility Program is a Youth Culture initiative that strives to connect youth of all abilities through meaningful, educational,
and innovative experiences with a broader aim of destigmatizing and elevating disability in the workplace.

School Girl in a wheel chair smiling

Our Purpose is Threefold:

  1. BridgeAbility equips young people with the skills required for our collective humanity to pave the way for an inclusive and compassionate future.
  2. Through activities ranging from workshops about accessibility and unconscious bias to disability confidence training, we support youth and corporate clients in their efforts to empower disability in the workplace.
  3. We educate and spotlight people with disabilities through our visibility strategy to normalize the inclusion of people of all abilities in society. We, at Youth Culture, believe in a corporate world and society that embodies and prioritizes our core values of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Procedures, Practices and Training

Youth Culture is actively developing procedures and practices that ensure accessibility and inclusion are at the forefront of everything we do. Additionally, we believe it’s critical to educate others-especially youth-on the significance of inclusive practices.

eSSENTIAL Accessibility

We are working with eSSENTIAL Accessibility to ensure that
our digital platforms are accessible to people with all types of
disabilities, including but not limited to hearing, visual, and
neurological impairments. The team at eSSENTIAL Accessibility
guides us on how to accommodate people with disabilities in a
virtual setting. Through eSSENTIAL Accessibility’s automated and
manual testing of our website to gauge accessibility features,
Youth Culture is able to gain an in-depth evaluation of our digital
experience.

This icon serves as a link to download the eSSENTIAL Accessibility assistive technology app for individuals with physical disabilities. It is featured as part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

eSSENTIAL Accesibility has their own library of resources for training along with guidelines for:

  • Colour Accessibility Best Practices
  • Designers Checklist
  • Full Accessibility Resource
  • Mobile Accessibility Best Practices
  • WCAG 2.1 Checklist

REV.com Subtitles and Closed Captions

Youth Culture works with REV.com to provide transcription and closed captioning services at virtual events for those who may benefit from such features. This is part of our commitment to ensuring our programs are accessible to all—including those who do not wish to identify with a disability during registration or participation in an event.

ASL Services

In addition to subtitles and captioning, Youth Culture recommends American Sign Language (ASL) services through Sign Language Interpreting Associates Ottawa (SLIAO), a local Canadian company that provides high-quality interpreting services to people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. An SLIAO interpreter can be booked for virtual events where people with hearing impairments would benefit from communication support in the form of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI).

Youth Culture Interviews

Youth Culture is inclusive in amplifying youth voice and engages all young people in industry, and innovation, through meaningful conversation.

MentorAbility Program

MentorAbility Program with Youth Culture

MentorAbility is a supported employment initiative that provides an opportunity for education and awareness to be shared between employers and people experiencing
a disability in communities across Canada. MentorAbility is a national effort to further the employment of Canadians in inclusive workplaces.

Youth Culture is supporting the MentorAbility program by helping match job seekers (Protégés) with employers for mentorship.
Through the MentorAbility program, Youth Culture matches mentors with Protégés whowants to learn more about that particular workplace or career. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all placements take place virtually on Zoom.

Educational Workshops and Outreach

Youth Culture is proud to offer free workshops to youth on a variety of skill-building and professional development opportunities, including but not limited to resume and cover letter writing, quantum computing, scholarship applications, coding, and time management. Other workshop content includes sharing Youth Culture’s Digital Accessibility journey with our community to discuss the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Prior to our workshops, we communicate that accommodations are available, such as subtitles, captioning, and ASL interpretation,
as needed. ASL interpretation must be booked in advance of the workshop to guarantee services are available.

White banner with dark blue text that says "STEM Careers and Game Development Workshop" with the dark blue Wiz Kid logo and light blue Youth Culture logo at the bottom
White and orange event banner that says, "Ace The Interview". An image of Kim Cooper is on the banner that says she is the workshop facilitator.

Unconscious Bias Workshop

Youth Culture works with industry partners to provide workshops on unconscious bias that support inclusive leadership in the workplace. During these workshops, we discuss the importance of identifying unconscious bias, and how it has the potential to dismantle productivity and inclusivity in teams.

Some of the biases and challenges workshop participants identified were:

  • bias trap of need for speed
  • dismissal of ideas
  • judging an employee based on assumptions
  • sunk cost bias and time spent bias
  • in-group bias/affinity bias
  • anchoring bias

Comments and Feedback about the Workshops:

“The team recognized the opportunity of exercising allyshop and most seemed interested in doing more of this and learning more about it”

“We now recognize the importance of continuing to foster individual cadences (like formal 1:1s) and a safe space for employees to voice their concerns.”

“We talked about creating a rotating schedule for meeting leads and change structure to stand-up meetings when possible/appropriate.”

“Dominant speakers should take a step back at times and let others have a chance to speak.”

“We realized a need to be vulnerable and actively look for traps/identify biases.”

“There was demonstrated high engagement of supporting others who need our voices.”

Our goal is to deliver yearly workshops on unconscious bias, allyship and inclusive leadership to all Youth Culture clients.

Visibility Strategy

Visibility is key to Youth Culture’s role in revolutionizing discussions about equity, diversity and inclusion to focus on those with disabilities and how to prioritize their voices both inside and outside of the workplace. The goals of our visibility strategy surround the destigmatization of disability in both in-person and virtual settings, including live events, videoconferencing sessions, and social media.

We endeavour to:

  • Include voices of people with disabilities when developing our short and long-term strategy
  • Feature role models on social media and throughout programming and events
  • Run monthly workshops on accessibility and inclusion
  • Promote our use of accessible services (e.g., captioning, ASL interpretation, subtitles, etc.) through our virtual platforms
  • Post about the work and achievements of our employees and volunteers with disabilities

BridgeAbility Confidence Training

The BridgeAbility for Youth program currently in development supports meaningful connections between young people with and without disabilities to nurture mindsets and lifestyles that reflect inclusion and action. The sessions include hands-on team-building challenges that spark creative thinking in a collaborative setting—one that prepares youth for a workforce that values people of all abilities.

Training Topics include:

  • Exposure to real-life scenarios that people with disabilities may encounter in the workplace
  • Inclusive hiring practices
  • Representation in leadership
  • Discussions about the stigma around disability and ability
  • The availability and visibility of accommodations
  • The importance of corporate culture when retaining employees with disabilities

Proposed Training Structure in Development:

  • Along with a Youth Culture staff member and host, the session will be co-leed by a mentor called a Bridging Lead who has completed specified training
  • All training modules advised by people with disabilities
  • Participants encounter a real-life scenario, with a focus on approach and reflection, followed by a brainstorming phase discussing advocating for others, identifying and addressing biases and privilege
  • Take away exit survey or homework/mission includes designing an inclusive workspace with accommodations for people with disabilities