Summer 2021 at CASDA: Ongoing projects to advance a National Autism Strategy

This summer and beyond, CASDA’s team and members are advancing various initiatives that continue to move autism and disability policy forward in Canada.
For more information about ongoing projects and initiatives at CASDA and to learn how you can get involved, continue reading below

Projects amplifying experiences of the Autistic Community | National Initiatives & Partnerships | Projects promoting inclusive hiring

Amplifying experiences of the Autistic community

In 2021, CASDA launched the Canadian Journal of Autism Equity (CJAE). CJAE was founded by Autistic members and is currently led by an Editorial Board composed of eight Autistic editors. 

  • This project is delivered in collaboration with McMaster University and is published by McMaster University Library Press.
  • In addition, Ready, Willing & Able has funded the creation of a toolkit on how to be more equitable in the workplace. This will be delivered to the public in 2022. 
  • You can get involved in this project by contacting Rebekah Kintzinger at CJAE.board@gmail.com
  • You can also read and share the inaugural edition of CJAE, Equity, which features works primarily authored and created by the CJAE Editorial Board. Autistic authors and creators are invited to submit their works for the second issue, on topics related to employment, autism and equity.

CASDA is currently expanding The Autistic Voices Project. In the second iteration of this project, CASDA would like to specifically showcase the vast diversity within the Autistic community.

  • This project is funded by Ready, Willing & Able.
  • This project is delivered in collaboration with The Inclusive Workplace and Spectrum Productions.
  • You can get involved in this project by contacting Kaela Scott, Project Coordinator, at kscott@casda.ca 

National Initiatives and Partnerships

CASDA is working on Provincial/Territorial scans (“P/T Scan”) to create a map of government ministries that are providing services to Autistic people and their families throughout the lifespan. This map will enable the National Autism Strategy to be implemented effectively, without leading to jurisdictional battles between provincial, territorial and federal governments. In addition, CASDA is in discussions to provide support to Indigenous organizations and allies to create a similar project with Indigenous communities across Canada.

  • This project will be delivered in October 2022.
  • Collaborators of this project include the Provincial-Territorial Autism Network (P-TAN), i.e., autism society organizations across Canada, and Autism Speaks Canada.
  • You can get involved in this project by contacting Emilyanne Stocks, Policy & Communications Intern, at estocks@casda.ca
  • Stay tuned for updates on this project in our bi-monthly newsletter, National Autism News.

CASDA is laying the foundation for an Autism Data Network, starting with the convening of a Community of Practice with the shared vision of leveraging Canada’s world class data assets to inform the implementation of a National Autism Strategy. This project will map out key population level data sources that can be used to inform the NAS, as well as highlight sectors of important community level data. This project also aims to highlight shared measurement and analyses methods used to conduct health services and policy research that can be used to inform autism policy. 

  • This project is funded by the Azrieli Foundation.
  • This project is in collaboration with the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, McMaster University McMaster Autism Research Team (MacART), the Offord Centre for Child Studies and Autism Speaks Canada.
  • You can get involved in this project by contacting Deepa Singal, Director of Scientific & Data Initiatives, dsingal@casda.ca.
  • Stay tuned for updates on this project in our bi-monthly newsletter, National Autism News.

CASDA is currently partnering with other disability-focused groups in federal and international initiatives. These initiatives include:

  • Partnering in the Disability Tax Credit Reform;
  • Advocating for the Disability Benefit;
  • Working as an accredited organization with the United Nations to hold Canada’s commitment to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

We will continue to keep our members updated on CASDA’s participation in these collaborations. For more information, contact info@casda.ca

Projects Promoting Inclusive Hiring

Since 2014, CASDA is pleased to deliver Ready, Willing, and Able (RWA), a national employment program for Autistic people and persons with an intellectual disability. RWA actively contributes towards real outcomes by empowering thousands of job seekers. RWA also supports businesses in advancing their corporate diversity and inclusion strategies. Today, RWA proudly partners with 12 nationwide businesses with the shared purpose of enhancing inclusion in the workplace. This employment model will serve to inform best practices for a National Autism Strategy, as well as other disability employment policies. In the coming months, RWA will present Phase 2 milestones to the federal government, such as the number of Canadian businesses that were reached, the number of candidates that were hired without the use of wage subsidies, as well as the outcomes from both local and national partners. 

  • This project is funded by the Government of Canada.
  • This project is delivered in collaboration with Inclusion Canada.
  • You can get involved in this project by contacting the RWA contact in your region. Simply visit: https://readywillingable.ca/find-rwa-staff/
  • You can also share the resources presented on the website of Ready, Willing & Able with local businesses to share the benefits of inclusive hiring. 

In 2021, CASDA created The Inclusive Workplace, a resource hub aimed to support job seekers and employees on the autism spectrum or with an intellectual disability. The Inclusive Workplace also supports businesses and employment agencies in building more inclusive workplaces.

  • This project is funded by the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Funds.
  • This project was created in collaboration with Inclusion Canada and Ready, Willing & Able.
  • You can get involved in this project by contacting info@theinclusiveworkplace.ca.
  • To learn more, visit The Inclusive Workplace. This resource hub has a suite of free e-learning courses that  businesses, job seekers, employees, and employment agencies can access towards building an inclusive workplace.

CASDA completed the Autism Employment Scan, a summary of all government employment programs that are available to Autistic job seekers and employees. This resource is intended to be used by Autistic job seekers, employees, their employers, as well as service providers looking for ways to support Autistic candidates with job seeking and employment retention.

  • This project is funded by and delivered in collaboration with Ready, Willing & Able
  • You can get involved in this project by contacting Stephanie Côté, Policy Manager, at scote@casda.ca.
  • You can share this resource with anyone who would benefit from learning about government programs that support the employment of Autistic people living in Canada. Stay tuned for a user-friendly version that will be available on the websites of Ready, Willing & Able, and The Inclusive Workplace in Fall 2021.

CASDA is currently creating a series of resources highlighting the experiences of Autistic Canadians working remotely. This project aims to: a) inform stakeholders about best practices for creating accessible workplaces by better understanding barriers to access faced by Autistic people living in Canada when working from home, and b) adopt and apply recommendations of accessible work-from-home practices in their own workplaces to enhance employment retention and success. 

  • This project is funded by Ready, Willing & Able.
  • This project is delivered in collaboration with Microsoft Research – Ability. 
  • You can get involved in this project by contacting Rakhee Chowdhury, Communications Manager, at rchowdhury@casda.ca
  • This project will be published on the website of The Inclusive Workplace in Fall 2021.

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