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CASE STUDIESBarrier-Free Access for Travellers with Disabilities


Harper Learning and Universal Access Design Inc. (UADI) collaborated to develop a complete online and video-based training program that would enable employees to assist travellers with disabilities in a respectful, inclusive way.


In 2019, the Government of Canada introduced new legislation that required airports to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. This meant airport staff needed to understand and carry out the requirements of the new legislation, which would require a significant amount of training.

Fortunately, we have a wealth of experience delivering online training programs for airport employees and tenants. One of our airport clients introduced us to Stan Leyenhorst and his team at UADI, who have extensive expertise both through life experience and on-the-ground training founded on key human rights principles regarding dignity, equal opportunities, barrier-free access, and autonomy for people with disabilities.

Between our two teams—UADI’s content expertise and our mastery of creating interactive online programs—we were ready for this project.

Collaborating with Harper Learning proved to be seamless and professional. Cara and her team provided the tools needed to incorporate a diversity of ideas in a very easy-to-follow, accessible format. This resulted in a comprehensive online and video-based training program. Harper Learning’s expertise allowed us to create a high-quality product, on time and on budget.

Stan Leyenhorst, Principal, Universal Access Design Inc.

Challenge: Ideal Training Program Construction

Right off the bat, our team knew we needed to take the time to understand the challenges and barriers experienced by travellers with disabilities. And we knew we needed to get it right. We dove into extensive discovery to learn about the needs of:

  • Travellers with visual impairments
  • Travellers who are deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing, including those who are deaf-blind
  • Travellers with mobility impairments
  • Travellers with communication, cognitive, and mental health disabilities, both ongoing and episodic

Our colleague trainers from UADI, who both live and teach this material, taught us what it’s like for travellers with disabilities to navigate the airport, communicate their requirements, and feel safe and comfortable while doing so. We also took into consideration that many disabilities are hidden or invisible. Staff must be sensitive and willing to listen and accept instructions.

Golden retriever who has undergone a guide dog training program assists his owner who is visually impaired.

Working closely with HLD ensured that our recommendations were vetted for accurate content when developing this highly inclusive training. The delivery process was professionally implemented and exceeded our expectations.

Ingrid Baartman, Accessibility Associate, Universal Access Design Inc.

Ultimately, the program needed to equip airport employees to feel comfortable asking the questions they need to ask to ensure that guests with disabilities have a positive experience at airports across Canada.

Specific requirements of the training program

  • Introduce new ATPDR legislation in an engaging, digestible way
  • Connect the legislation to key human rights principles based on dignity, equal opportunities, barrier-free access, and autonomy
  • Provide principles and best practices for assisting guests with a variety of disabilities, including sensory, mobility, communication, cognitive, and mental health disabilities
  • Include a variety of content, such as interactive slides, animations, voiceover, and job aids to support retention
  • Feature custom videos about assisting guests with disabilities
  • Follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

Cara and her team displayed a strong sense of humility and willingness to learn, while concentrating on every detail. Working with Cara proved to be enjoyable, fulfilling and highly productive.

Stan Leyenhorst, Principal, Universal Access Design Inc.

Solution: An Inclusive Training Program

In collaboration with UADI, we designed and developed an online program called Assisting Guests with Disabilities. UADI also developed a companion video called Curbside Assistance

This online course for airports can be branded and delivered through their own learning management system (LMS) platforms. Employees and tenants can access the training program 24/7, and results are trackable and reportable.

Assisting Guests with Disabilities was based on content developed and fully vetted by self-advocates and professional accessibility consultants. These experts fine-tuned the accessibility, tone, and overall user experience. Thanks to the input of people with lived experience and expertise using mobility and assistive devices, we were able to design the learning experience to be maximally engaging for the highest number of learners.

The Harper Learning team has a solid technical background and is well-versed in many current LMS platforms. For all of our clients, Harper Learning also handled the implementation side of the projects. Cara personally assisted one of our clients from the initial requirements gathering sessions, to writing a comprehensive multi-platform research findings report, and handling all aspects of the LMS implementation and admin training in partnership with the client’s IT consultant. It was reassuring knowing Cara’s team had a handle on this important component of training program development. The client shared that the process was easy and Harper Learning asked the right questions to make sure their organization got the right solution.

Stan Leyenhorst, Principal, Universal Access Design Inc.

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