Charvi Dhamija


Bachelor’s of Science, Computer Science Specialization, 2nd Year

Course: CSL 100 (Fall 2021) with Instructor Jay Friesen

Who was your community partner, and can you describe the project objectives?

I had the opportunity to work with the City of Edmonton (CoE)-Accessibility Services. The main goal of the CoE-Accessibility Services is to ensure that people with disabilities are treated with respect and have equitable access and opportunity to participate and contribute to City policies, programs and services, communications and technology, employee services and infrastructure.  I specifically worked on the City’s Measuring Up Edmonton project, which provides a self-assessment guide and resources to help individuals and various organizations become more accessible and inclusive.

What was the biggest takeaway from your CSL placement?

The biggest takeaway from my CSL placement would be understanding the importance of accessibility and inclusion in communities. Our community is at its best when everyone is included, and no one is left out. Disability is often viewed as a problem in a person’s body that requires medical treatment. But, we are gradually moving towards the social model of disability which states disability is caused by how society is organized, not because of a person’s impairment. Overall, my placement has encouraged me to reflect on my surroundings, identify the barriers faced by people with disabilities, and be a productive member of society.

How can you apply any newly gained knowledge/skills to your future endeavours (courses/employment/volunteering)?

It is important to note that a City does not become accessible only by adapting its structures to all kinds of people. Assistive technology is also key in providing equal conditions to people - they can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with electronic information and be active, contributing members of the digital world. Hence, as a computer science student, one of the goals in my mind would be to design and develop websites, tools, and technologies in an accessible way that people with disabilities can use them.

What are some of the ways that COVID-19 has affected your community partner or your placement?

Due to COVID-19, my placement was entirely remote. But, my community partner was very accommodating and they let me choose the deliverables based on my own preferences. So, I chose to update decade-year old links in the Measuring Up Edmonton resource guide, which could easily be done on my laptop from anywhere. Although, I would have preferred an in-person setting because it’s always more productive and interactive for me, at the same time, we had to consider all other things too!