What is the Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign?
The Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign aims to educate local businesses about aphasia and advocate for the rights of people with aphasia to receive access to goods and services. Businesses are offered the opportunity to receive on-site accessibility training and personalized accessibility toolkits/resources designed to accommodate the needs of people with communication disorders.
Aphasia is a language disorder found in approximately twenty five percent of stroke survivors that affects a person’s ability to speak, read, write or understand. Participation in society is difficult for people with aphasia due to the pervasive communication, physical and societal barriers encountered on a daily basis, which include lack of public awareness, lack of knowledge regarding supportive communication strategies, and inaccessible written information.
What problem does the Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign solve?
An extensive and complex legal framework− Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Human Rights Code, Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005− safeguards the rights of Ontarians with disabilities and encourages their full participation in society. Despite this legal requirement, Mayo Moran's Second Legislative Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 reported a lack of accessibility improvements at the storefront level to accommodate people with non-visible disabilities, such as aphasia. In consulting with obligated sectors under the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service, Moran heard that businesses would comply with the legislation standards if they knew what was required, but both public and private sectors articulated difficulty understanding their obligations because “the standards are often not specific enough about what is required, there is a lack of support for education and implementation, and the training requirements under the standards consume too much time and effort”. Beyond servicing the needs of people with aphasia, the Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign supports private and private sectors in following through with their legal obligation to commit to an accessible Ontario. The call for action in the literature to offer on-site accessibility training for obligated organizations under the AODA, coupled with the need for public support systems to enable full participation in society for people with aphasia, served as the impetus for the Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign: a comprehensive workplace intervention program aimed at overcoming barriers so people with aphasia to access goods and services like everyone else.
Who are our customers?
Organizations are eligible to participate if they are covered by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, which applies to every designated public sector organization and to every other person or organization that provides goods or services to members of the public or other third parties and that has at least one employee in Ontario.
What is the Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign’s success to date?
The lead researcher for this campaign is Dr. Lori Buchanan, a Clinical Neuropsychology faculty member at the University of Windsor. Her campaign team is comprised of Clinical Neuropsychology graduate students and undergraduate research assistants in Dr. Buchanan's Cognitive Neuropsychology lab. Through this academic lens, the campaign doubles as a research project aimed at establishing best practices for accessibility efforts in our community. The campaign team collaborates with Dr. Buchanan on research method development, business recruitment, business participant retention, and accessibility training administration. To date, four business participants are confirmed to participate: (1) Windsor-Essex YMCA, (2) Windsor Public Library, (3) City of Windsor’s Accessibility Office, and (4) Participating Tim Horton’s franchises in Windsor. Other business participants in the process of confirming training include: Healthy Connections Massage Therapy, Crabby Joe’s Tap and Grill, Sutts, Strosberg LLP, City of Burlington’s Parks and Recreation, Sage Salon + Spa, Green Shield Insurance, Dr. Abbey Jakobs Optometry, and participating Shopper Drug Mart franchises. Sutts, Strosberg LLP is also a benefactor of $2000.
To guarantee the success and expansion of the campaign, five community partners are confirmed: (1) the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, (2) Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, (3) March of Dimes Canada, (4) the Brain Injury Association of Windsor & Essex County (BIAWE), to endorse our list of “Aphasia Friendly” business participants to BIAWE members with aphasia and their families, and (5) Dr. Chris Code, University of Exeter, to provide his “Public Awareness of Aphasia" survey for use as a survey pre- and post-training to measure the training's effectiveness. This campaign was awarded first place at the University of Windsor's Innovative Designs for Accessibility (iDeA) student competition. Additionally, the campaign received endorsement from the RBC EPIC Founder Program, which offered $6000 to Aphasia Friendly Canada’s Associate Director, Laura Pineault, to work on the campaign full-time over a 12-week period.
How will businesses benefit by participating in the Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign?
Receive local attention for joining our efforts
Receive recognition as an “Aphasia Friendly Business” in the community, including being listed on a local registry of “Aphasia Friendly Businesses”. This registry will be provided to local health care providers, including speech pathologists and clinical neuropsychologists, for distribution to their patients
Expand access to services at your business for people with communication disorders
Be awarded an “Aphasia Friendly Business” decal to display
How can your business become an “Aphasia-Friendly Business?”:
1. Allow Dr. Lori Buchanan and her Clinical Neuropsychology students to survey your business:
Accessibility of reading material (such as signs, menus, or instructions)
Accessibility of restrooms
Employee knowledge of aphasia and ways to facilitate communication
2. Choose a representative(s) from your business to take the Aphasia Quiz and participate in a one-hour on-site training about aphasia and supportive communication strategies.
3. Review recommendation regarding how to make your business more accessible to people with aphasia.
4. Celebrate recognition as an “Aphasia Friendly Business”.
Example of a Project Timeline
Step 1 - Complete the site evaluation & administer “Aphasia Quiz” to representative/employee(s)
Step 2 - Review recommendations with the business owner/manager
Step 3 - Complete the aphasia awareness training module
Step 4 - Complete post-training survey with business employees
Step 5 - Implement any desired changes to the business
Step 6 - Obtain recognition as an “Aphasia Friendly Business”.
The Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign and Windsor Adult Conversation Groups
Beyond the Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign, we are promoting our mission to enhance quality of life and encourage participation in society for people with aphasia by launching an adult conversation group in Windsor. Adult conversation groups for people with aphasia do not currently exist in Windsor, Sarnia or Chatham (see region’s geography below) and given the scale of this underserved area, there is identifiable need and demand for an aphasia group.
The Windsor Regional Hospital’s stroke navigator and outpatient speech language pathologists are confirmed partners on the groups. The stroke navigator will serve as our primary source of referrals as she has contact with stroke survivors one year post-trauma. Dr. Buchanan’s Cognitive Neuropsychology lab will serve as the primary source of volunteers for the group and amidst their volunteerism, graduate students will conduct research on the efficacy of adult conversation groups to enhance quality of life for people with aphasia (ex. What program model is most effective? What activities keep individuals most engaged?).
Importantly, we envision a symbiotic relationship between the Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign and the adult conversation groups, whereby group members can aid in training and adjudicating the accessibility of Aphasia Friendly Business participants. Reciprocally, traffic/membership will increase for Aphasia Friendly businesses, as adult conversation group members will feel confident visiting the endorsed list of “Aphasia Friendly” businesses for products/services.