Latest from We Count

A Message from Our Director

Friends and colleagues,

What is intelligence? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition is: “The ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations. Also: the skilled use of reason.” What we consider to be human intelligence appears to have created a swarm of trying situations that we do not know how to deal with. Is it time to reconsider what we mean by intelligence? We have had one expansion of intelligence when we admitted that there might be another dimension to intelligence, namely emotional intelligence. The Psychology Today definition is: “Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.”

Neither of these dimensions of intelligence appears to have considered the broader or long-term consequences of our decisions. Our reasoning has been short-ranged and over-simplistic. Our strategizing has been enamored of reducing considerations to numbers and complex factors into cleanly boxed categories, ignoring the entangled connections and relationships.

Our intelligence, even when expanded to include emotional intelligence, appears to be bereft of a global view and an ethical compass. We seem not to be cognizant of the simple fact that we are all connected and living on a single planet. That what goes around, comes around. We can’t recognize the importance of maintaining our diversity or learning to navigate complexity. Because we have created artificial intelligence in our image, it has only amplified, accelerated, and automated our deficient form of intelligence. It has become a power tool that speeds us to further trying situations. At Project We Count we hope to do a small part to create a more complete, long-term, broader definition of human and machine intelligence.

All my best,


News from the Field

Gathering Strength, Gathering Storms: The One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100) 2021 Study Panel Report The 2021 AI100 report is out! Learn more about the current state of AI, its impacts and where the technology is moving in this report written by multidisciplinary researchers in the field.

Toyota Pauses Paralympics Self-Driving Buses after One Hits Visually Impaired Athlete During the Paralympics in Tokyo, as this Guardian article reveals, Toyota paused their self-driving shuttle service after an athlete who has a vision disability was struck by one of their self-driving buses. Like the pedestrian who was killed by a self-driving car in 2018, this athlete did not fit the "standard" pedestrian model, which suggests that self-driving AI systems may not yet be built for diversity or be able to work with outlier data.

Now That Machines Can Learn, Can They Unlearn? With increased privacy concerns about AI systems, as this WIRED article explains, researchers are testing whether sensitive data can be removed from those systems without completely retraining them.

The Machine and Deep Learning Compendium Want to learn more about machine and deep learning? Check out the ML Compendium, a highly detailed resource with over 500 ML-related topics, and participate in expanding the resource and making it more accessible.

How AI Can Help Shatter Barriers to Equality In this TED Talk, Jamila Gordon shows how AI is helping refugees, migrants and those from disadvantaged backgrounds find jobs and develop the skills they need to work effectively and safely.

Foundation Models Risk Exacerbating ML’s Ethical Challenges Learn about the far-reaching consequences of foundation models in this VentureBeat article.

How Bad Data Keeps Us from Good AI Mainak Mazumdar shows in this TED Talk how less-than-quality data leads to AI that makes wrong decisions and predictions, and he reveals three infrastructural resets needed to make ethical AI possible.

Why Some Cities Are Banning Facial Recognition Technology Want to know more about how facial recognition technology works and why some cities are banning it? Check out this WIRED video.

The Race to Build AI That Benefits Humanity with Sam Altman In this TED Interview, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman makes a case for AI's potential to make the future better for all of us.

Watch Abhishek Gupta's (MAIEI) talk about how a disconnect between the theoretical advances in solving AI ethics challenges and their practical implementation has led to a stasis in AI ethics.

This Month

Designing Proof and Evidence with Minorities and Outlier Data Digging DEEPer Workshop

In preparation for our Minorities and Outlier Data co-design, we’re encouraging everyone to think about the challenge of proof for a small group, even a group that is just one person: you.

Think of something you experience in your life that is difficult to demonstrate. Perhaps it’s an emotion you feel, a value you hold or a pain you experience. How might you go about proving your experience to someone else? How might you document or demonstrate it? What kind of proof could you produce to convince someone about the validity of your experience?

Share your ideas of how to approach this challenge with the We Count community by leaving a comment on the We Count website.

Graduate Research Assistant Positions

Equitable Digital Systems logo

The IDRC is hiring three research assistants to integrate with the Equitable Digital Systems (EDS) team and support their work with identifying gaps in currently available standards that address the accessibility of digital tools, systems and associated practices deployed by organizations regulated by Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act.

The EDS team is developing a research knowledge base of current and emerging technical systems that present barriers to employees and prospective employees with disabilities. The team is co-creating an open platform that collects community research, new knowledge and input regarding emerging technical systems from a disability and accessibility perspective.

Learn more and apply


Were you unable to attend our AI and Disability webinar with Wendy Chisholm and Jutta Treviranus? Discover the risks and rewards of AI for people with disabilities and how future developments in different industries may impact the disability community in this webinar video with Microsoft's Wendy Chisholm and the IDRC's Jutta Treviranus on our YouTube channel!

In this video, discover how we're helping to create an inclusive and balanced data ecosystem for persons with disabilities through our ongoing call for challenges and challenge workshops.

Visit our YouTube channel to see past webinar recordings. New videos are released regularly, so be sure to subscribe.

We Count Badges

Want to earn We Count badges? Find out more about our badges and how you can earn them in this video.

AI and Disability Learner Badge

Wendy Chisholm (Microsoft) and Jutta Treviranus (IDRC, OCAD University) discuss the complex relationship between innovative technology and disability, with a focus on AI.

You will learn:

  • The risks and rewards of AI for people with disabilities
  • How future developments in different industries may impact the disability community Apply for your Learner badge

Apply for your Learner badge

We Count badges: Learner, Brainstormer, Collaborator and Communicator

Earn badges with We Count! Our badges enable earners to showcase their proficiency in AI, data systems and inclusive data practices. To find out more about the types of badges we offer and which badges are currently available, visit our website.


Accessibility in Action Co-Design

Accessibility in Action sets out to create a platform that will bring disability communities together with the thousands of entities regulated under the Accessible Canada Act of 2019. The initiative aims to facilitate effective engagement of people with disabilities and federally regulated entities in creating an accessible and inclusive Canada that fully respects and protects the human rights of people with disabilities.

The IDRC team worked with the disability and Deaf community, disability organizations, and federally regulated entities to understand what a meaningful consultation means to them through the completion of discovery co-design workshops.

To summarize the workshop results, the team has created documents that address accessible design guidelines, best practices for entities before engagement, recommended topics for training and resources, and website technical features. These documents will be available in the coming weeks on the project's Accessibility in Action Co-Design website.

One of the main outcomes of the discovery co-design workshops was the outlining of a consultation process, which describes the nine main steps of the consultation process, including outreach and preparation and training.

After building rough versions of the project website based on what the team learned from the discovery co-design workshops, the team is now running brainstorming co-design workshops, working in small groups that are a mix of individuals, disability organizations and federally regulated entities.

AccessArt Project for 2021–2022 Year of Public Art

After wrapping up four workshops in July 2021, with the support of We Count, AccessArt continues its co-design process with Deaf, Disabled, and Neurodiverse Artists and Arts Workers with disabilities and friends. This fall, virtual drop-in co-development sessions have continued to refine the assessment criteria and playtest and research the accessibility of public art spaces. Work also continues on creative access and improving the institutions and processes that shape our shared spaces.

Recent co-development guests include Accessibility Specialist Anika Abdullah from DesignAble, assisting on refining standards, Kat Germain, sharing her expertise in the field of audio and visual descriptions, and Melanie Marsden, sharing insights and benefits of effective visual descriptions when experiencing art as someone with lived experience of disability.

Download posters from July’s workshops. Access visual descriptions for posters and workshop session notes.

If you’re interested in contributing to the mapping and casebuilding process, AccessArt invites you to sign up for paid roles! Please register to the Access Art Alliance, and a member of our team will contact you with more information.

Learn More

Discover how We Count is addressing bias and developing new machine learning strategies that recognize and serve people with disabilities in this video.

Visit our website and follow us on social media to stay up-to-date with We Count initiatives and developments in the data science, disability and AI communities.

We Count acknowledges the support of:

  • The Inclusive Design Research Centre
  • OCAD University
  • Innovation Science and Economic Development, Canada's Accessible Technology Program
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation