The Rob MacIsaac Fellowship Program seeks to cultivate innovative student research in transportation. The program finds placements for up to five fellows in diverse areas of our organization and runs every other year. Caroline Neasmith, a Postgraduate Human Resources Management student, is one of the five recipients of 2018 Rob MacIsaac Fellowship Program.
Here is a brief description of Caroline's research in her own words:
"My research, NaviCommunications, will look at accessible communication for ESL (English as a Second Language) users by analyzing accessibility plans already in place for auditory and visual users and seeing how we can adjust them to incorporate ESL users. I coupled these three categories together because of the similarities in their communication barriers. Their shared obstacles feed off one another and I think we can learn from best practices that are already in place. I will look at Metrolinx's current accessibility efforts as well as those of local and global agencies to gather information on accessibility for people with an auditory and visual impairment to see how these can be slightly altered to incorporate ESL customers.
I became interested in accessibility while teaching sailing to people with disabilities through a program called Able Sail in Ottawa. Through this experience, I started looking at the world through the eyes of someone with additional obstacles in their life.
I became interested in communication accessibility specifically when I travelled through Asia for several months by myself in 2016. I found it especially hard to navigate local transit systems due to language barriers. This experience made me think about how challenging day-to-day life must be for Canadian newcomers. When the opportunity with Metrolinx came up, I thought it would be fitting to start a project specifically for helping newcomers adjust to life in Canada.
I want my research to create a foundation for contriving a universal transit communication program that will work for all able-bodied or non-able-bodied users, ESL or non-ESL. I hope to create a program that removes the "othering" aspect and help with the creation of a system that everyone uses, regardless of their ability or background.
My hope is to help the accessibility department assist ESL users and create a program using latest technologies and best practices to accommodate them in every way possible. From there, I would be training employees on the program and ways to implement the practices across all Go trains and Go buses."