About the Service and Support Animals Initiative (SSAI)

Supporting Organizations

The SSAI is a joint effort, with partners that include:

  • The City of Pickering
  • The Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility
  • Aequum Global Access Inc.
  • The Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) of OCAD University
  • and a network of professionals in accessibility, business, and governance.

Purpose

The SSAI purpose is to collaboratively:

  1. Identify prominent issues around service and support animals in the community – including challenges to businesses, municipalities, and other client-facing organizations – to include barriers that regularly face users of service animals.
  2. Respond with co-designed recommendations addressing the identified challenges and barriers.
  3. Provide formal resources for stakeholders and the community, as drawn from an Innovation Lab results and other consultative research and outcomes.
  4. Educate, using the developed resources through public awareness access and forums.

Resources and Methods

The cornerstone of the program is networking with a broad range of stakeholders who represent the above groups.  Bringing them together in a variety of ways, to identify current issues and collaboratively recommend solutions.  This includes facilitating multiple levels of comprehensive stakeholder input through several consultative opportunities.

Resources:

  • Initial engagement with the City of Pickering, including City Councillors and the Pickering Accessibility Advisory Committee.
  • An established regional task force of stakeholders to provide initial research, problem identification and early planning.  The group fostered networking among stakeholders from the community, region, GTA, and Ontario.
  • Funding and other support is provided through the Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility.
  • Coordinated project implementation is provided through the City of Pickering, Aequum Global Access, and a network of key accessibility professionals.

Methods:

  • Conduct a public survey to gather input from a wide range of experiences and viewpoints.
  • Pilot a modular Innovation Lab:  A focused virtual group-environment that fosters interaction, collaboration, and creativity – used to decidedly identify key issues and recommend co-designed solutions.
  • Obtain next-level stakeholder input on the Innovation Lab outcomes, with a broader group of identified stakeholders – regionally, provincially, across Canada and internationally.

Outcomes include:

  • A monograph (detailed study) resource for Ontario businesses, community-based organizations, and municipalities to include:
    • Issues overview
    • Regulatory overview, to include Ontario, Federal, and other provinces
    • Research and Innovation Lab outcomes
    • Recommendations for:
      • Current best practices for Ontario businesses, municipalities, and other organizations.
      • Further issues identification, clarification, and responses
      • Resource bibliography and helpful web links.
  • Public Launch Event:  Virtual Half-Day event to bring awareness, provide project outcomes, resources, and provide education on the issues and recommendations. (by March 2021)
  • Ongoing resources, updated regularly and shared on a variety of pertinent websites (such as the City of Pickering, the Province of Ontario, representative organizations, etc.)
  • An annual formal re-visit of engaged stakeholders to assess progress, current outcomes and further identify needs. (beginning March 2021)

SSAI - Survey

Opinions Wanted

You have a unique opportunity to influence Ontario thinking on Business & Community Access for Service & Support Animals.

Your input is a vital part of the Service & Support Animal Initiative, to help us:

  • Discover the biggest challenges faced by Ontario businesses, services, municipalities, and other organizations.
  • Identify the greatest barriers to public access for service & support animal users.
  • Generate solutions that help all stakeholders.

Your input is essential to our efforts and tremendously appreciated.

 

Start the Survey

 

SSAI - Innovation Lab

Our Virtual Innovation Lab (VIL) was a huge success! Thank you to all the participants that put in their hearts, minds, and generous time. We are now collecting secondary consultative input to the VIL outcomes. 

As soon as that is complete, we will have a final VIL outcomes report.

What is an Innovation Lab?

Through an engaging interactive process, an Innovation Lab brings together a variety of stakeholders to

  • Work together as a newly defined team.
  • Identify & Define current (and future) complex challenges.
  • Prioritize the challenges through a newly shared landscape of critical thinking.
  • Co-design solutions and make recommendations that effectively address the identified challenges.

An Innovation Lab Enables its participants to work on complex challenges and co-create solutions that no one group or entity could have accomplished on their own.

Why:

Our Virtual Innovation Lab (VIL) was designed as one of the cornerstones of the Service and Support Animal Initiative (SSAI) – Stakeholders identifying the leading challenges among Ontario businesses, services, municipalities, and other organizations to meet public accessibility for service and support animal users.  The core issue areas we addressed included:

  1. Regulations, Policies & Procedures
  2. Emerging Issues/Problems
  3. Systemic/Practical Concerns
  4. Education/Awareness & Public Service

Innovation Lab participants explored and developed solutions to mitigate the above challenges and barriers.

How the VIL Worked:

Through four modular events, VIL participants worked among their diverse group of stakeholders going through structured cycles of exploration, ideation, and implementation. Each stage advanced the VIL toward effectively building a more accessible community, through:

  • Exploration of challenges and barriers, having intensely focused on the daily lives and functions of all identified stakeholders.
  • Ideation generated many possible solutions. Participants then prioritized the ideas to select the barrier or challenge they wanted to work on.
  • Implementation involved working in individual teams to develop solutions and plans for implementation – then share with the entire VIL group.

What’s Next:

The results of the Innovation Lab and Public Survey are being used to develop a Monograph resource for all identified stakeholders. (See SSAI Monograph for more details).

We also plan a half-day Public Launch Event for everyone, during Canada National Accessibility Week, between May 31, 2021 – June 4, 2021.

Stay tuned to our website as details emerge! We’d love to have you participate.

If you haven’t already completed our online surveyplease do so to help us keep developing as much stakeholder input as possible.


 The SSAI Monograph

From the results of our various stakeholder engagements and consultations, we are developing a single source document, with background, information, and resources, documenting the SSAI process and its recommendations.  The Monograph is core to facilitating outreach to businesses, municipalities, and other community service organizations and share the resources and tools developed.  The Monograph is planned to be available in June 2021.  Areas that will be covered, include:

  • SSAI Project Background

  • Overview of Service & Support Animals:  Roles, History & Challenges

  • Regulatory Overview:  Federal and other Provincial Efforts/Regs

  • Current & Emerging Challenges Overview

  • A Collaborative Stakeholder Approach to Challenges & Solutions

  • Research and Virtual Innovation Lab outcomes

  • Recommendations for:
    • Current best practices for businesses, municipalities, and other organizations.
    • Further problem identification, clarification, and recommended responses.
  • Resources

The Monograph and public forums will help to:

  • Increase stakeholder & public awareness.
  • Provide access to shared information.