AccessAbility Symposium at NAIT

In recognition of National AccessAbility Week, NAIT will be hosting a gathering of community and grassroots organizations, educators, and industry partners to connect, discuss, and understand barriers to accessibility and inclusion.

Now in it’s second year after a successful 2023 event, the AccessAbility Symposium is free to attend and open to all, including post-secondary instructors, industry staff, students, associations, advocates, community leaders, or anyone looking to broaden their knowledge on accessibility.

This event is being offered in two ways: in-person at the Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC) at NAIT or livestreamed to a virtual location.

Register now to secure your spot!


What to expect

AccessAbility Symposium 2023 conference room with attendees and speakers

Featuring keynote presentations, guest speakers and artists, the AccessAbility Symposium at NAIT will provide attendees with an opportunity to:

  • Build a strong business case for workplace disability inclusion 
  • Explore best practices for creating inclusive workplaces
  • Enhance inclusion, accessibility, and diversity in polytechnic and STEM education
productivity and innovation centre main atrium

Open house

Wednesday, May 29 | 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

If you would like the opportunity to visit the Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC) in advance, get familiar with the physical space, or plan your travel path we will be hosting an Open House the day before the event officially begins.

All event spaces will be made available from 10am - 3pm on Wednesday, May 29. This will be held drop-in style, and NAIT staff will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

AccessAbility Symposium 2023 speaker and interpreter on stage

Event Day

Thursday, May 30 | 8:15 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

  • 8:15 a.m. — Registration open

  • 9:00 a.m. — Event begins: opening ceremony and welcome remarks

  • 9:30 a.m. — Morning session

  • 10:30 a.m. — Break

  • 10:45 a.m. — Morning session continue

  • 12:15 p.m.  — Networking lunch

  • 1:15 p.m. — Afternoon session

  • 2:30 p.m. — Formal program end and networking reception

  • 3:30 p.m. — Event close

All times are in MDT.

2024 Speakers and artists

Bean Gill Head Shot

Bean Gill

Neurorehabilitation Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of the ReYu Paralysis. 

Learn about Bean Gill

Benveet “Bean” Gill’s story serves up a dose of reality like you’ve never heard before.

In her 20s, Gill was working as an X-ray technologist in a cardiac catheterization lab. But, in 2012, when she turned 30, everything changed. She left an abusive relationship, her dad left her family and, during a trip to Las Vegas, a virus paralyzed her from the waist down.

While relaxing in a hotel room with close friends, she felt a sudden, stabbing pain in her spine.

"The pain lasted only a few minutes, and then I couldn't move my right leg. I was paralyzed within 10 minutes."

Multiple neurologists told Gill a virus was likely to blame, and she would regain full use of her legs within weeks. After several months of no progress, Bean was forced to come to grips with her new reality. A once athletic young woman who enjoyed modeling, kickboxing, and weightlifting, she struggled with betrayal by her own body. She couldn't roll over, sit up, or get out of bed without help. She was forced to find her way through an inaccessible society, all the while living with paralysis and learning how to love herself - disability and all.

"My life was flipped upside down. I hated everything about me. I hated my life."

Bean took her health into her own hands, seeking out the answers and help she needed to confront her challenges head-on. Eventually, Gill found her confidence again. She worked to regain movement in her legs and pushed herself to try sports she never would have attempted before being paralyzed.

If it wasn’t for the worst year of her life, Gill wouldn’t be who she is today.

Bean’s sudden onset paralysis opened her eyes to the many injustices, inequalities, and challenges that are a part of life for those with disabilities. She went from dealing with a new identity of life in a wheelchair to using her situation as a platform to help others.

In 2017 she co-founded ReYu Paralysis Recovery Center - a non-profit she started with her Neuro-Exercise Specialist and zero capital. The wellness center exists to inspire, motivate, and promote recovery with increased function for individuals with spinal cord injuries and associated neurological disorders.

"We show them that they can do the things that they were told they were never going to do."

Being a woman of color who also has a visible disability, Gill is an example of unwavering strength and resilience. By confronting adversity and sharing her story, Bean Gill breaks down barriers and changes stigmas surrounding people with disabilities.

Gill’s work has earned her local and national recognition, including the Top 40 Under 40, RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award, and Global’s Woman of Vision Award. Bean is the reigning Miss Wheelchair Canada and was recognized by Mattel as one of Canada's top 60 inspiring women as part of Barbie's 60th Anniversary.

Robert Cardinal Head Shot

Rob Cardinal

Siksika First Nation, IndigeSTEAM president, Siksika Board of Education STEM coordinator, astrophysics and astronomy. 

Logan Arcilla Headshot

Logan Arcilla

Alexis First Nation, IndigeSTEAM Partners In Community programs manager, FIRST Robotics alumnus and volunteer.

Learn about Logan Arcilla

Logan Arcilla is from Alexis First Nation and works with FIRST ® Robotics at all levels of their programing including the FIRST ® Global Challenge (FGC). He has been a Power to Choose camp staff member since 2017 and done many of our robotics workshops around Alberta.  Logan was one of our founding board members, but stepped down in order to work for IndigeSTEAM.  He is now our Programs Manager for Tech and Robotics.

Gerald Bourlon Head Shot

Gerald Bourlon

Artist, Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts

Learn about Gerald Bourlon

Gerald Bourlon is a mosaic artist who joined the Nina Collective in 2017. He works diligently to cut and arrange ceramic tiles, creating intricate designs. His subject matter ranges from geometric patterns to landscapes and animals. Occasionally, he accents his composition with glass pieces or decorative vintage tiles. Bourlon develops and refines his 
skill with each mosaic, creating increasingly complex images and experimenting with scale, colour, and shape. 

Bourlon’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions throughout Edmonton and is in many private collections. In 2023 he had his first solo exhibition in the Nina’s Stollery Gallery, titled Deaf Creation.

Julianna Yee Head Shot

Julianna Yee

Artist, Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts

Learn about Julianna Yee

Julianna Yee is a visual artist working in printmaking, ceramics, and painting. She finds inspiration in the natural world, using animals and flowers as her subject matter. 
She has a unique method of making monoprints, adding thick layers of ink to the plate building dense layers of colour. With this technique, she is often able to pull multiple prints from a single plate. In every medium she works with, she incorporates subtle text, adding names for the figures or other messages.

Amynah Pirani Head Shot

Amynah Pirani

Artist, Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts

Learn about Amynah Pirani

Amynah Pirani is a visual artist working predominantly with textiles, clay, and mixed media assemblage. Recently she has also been exploring watercolour painting. Amynah’s process relies heavily on experimentation and she allows her compositions to come together organically and often unfold to create open narratives. Her work is frequently figurative and at times includes text that she hopes will connect with viewers and leave them with uplifting messages. 

Amynah lived in Kenya for most of her life and came to Canada in 2006. She aims to create bold and captivating work that gives viewers insight into who she is as an artist and as a person. Her cultural background influences her formal decisions and Amynah mixes Swahili & English text to further establish both cultural and personal links in her pieces. She enjoys collaging textile pieces to create larger integrated work and has been experimenting making three dimensional sculptures out of clay, fabric and found materials to make dimensional and meaningful works.

Megan Bulford Head Shot

Megan Bulford

Accessibility and Disability in Postsecondary Education – Barriers to Support (PADRA)

Learn about Megan Bulford

Megan Bulford is the Membership Officer for PADRA and the Lead Accessibility Advisor at Northwestern Polytechnic. For over a decade, she has been assisting students, faculty, and staff in navigating the accommodation process in post-secondary accessibility services. Megan completed her Bachelor of Education through the University of Alberta's Elementary Teacher Education North Program and worked primarily in elementary special education before transitioning to post-secondary education.

Maike Schmieding Head Shot

Maike Schmieding

Accessibility and Disability in Postsecondary Education – Barriers to Support (PADRA)

Learn about Maike Schmieding

Maike Schmieding is the Vice Chair for PADRA and Research Chair for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Keyano College. In her role, she supports staff in applied research around teaching and learning. She comes from a background working with vulnerable communities and is a supporter of UDL and social justice in education. She received her MEd at the University of Muenster in Germany before moving to Canada, and is excited to start her PhD soon. In her free time, she volunteers with her therapy dog Finn.

In-person attendee information

Click on the accordions below for information on parking and transportation, accessibility supports, refreshments and our partner hotel.

Location, parking and transportation

Conference Hall and Atrium
Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC) 
10210 Princess Elizabeth Ave NW, Edmonton, Alberta, T5G 0Y2 (View on map)

Parking is available on campus. The parking lots closest to PIC are L and M, and you are responsible for the daily parking fee.

For more information on parking and campus access, visit

Public Transit:
There is a LRT stop at Main Campus, with approximately a 10 minute walk from the station to NAIT's Productivity and Innovation Centre.

Accessibility supports

  • Sign language interpretation (ASL)
  • Live captioning (English)
  • Multi-use quiet/sensory space
  • Materials in advance
  • Transcript downloads for select sessions

Food and refreshments

We will provide tea/coffee in the morning, lunch, and a final afternoon break with snacks and tea/coffee. You will be given the opportunity to outline dietary needs during registration.

This page will be updated with information on menu selections and service style when confirmed.

Hotel information

If you require hotel accommodations, you may use NAIT’s discount code at The Matrix Hotel.

See the information sheet attached for booking instructions.

Virtual attendee information

Click on the accordions below for information on attending virtually and accessibility supports.

Joining virtually

Virtual attendees will receive a meeting link via email to join the Symposium from their remote location.

Accessibility supports

  • Live video stream of in-person activities (except lunch and breaks)
  • American sign language (ASL) interpretation
  • Live closed captioning
  • Q&A function with virtual moderator
  • The Conference Hall will be set up for you to see and hear in-person speakers

Thank you to our generous sponsors for their support:


This project is funded by the Government of Canada's Social Development Partnerships Program - Disability Component

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