2023 Winner: Excellence in Furthering Inclusive Communities
Initiative: Innovation in Inclusion by TN Digital Services
In 2014, Ling Huang, the CEO of Technology North (TN) and a parent of an autistic child found himself pondering his son’s future beyond high school. His quest for a more fulfilling life for youth and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) began there, stretching over eight years, and aimed not only at his son but also at others in similar situations.
Concurrently, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in Canada was dealing with a scarcity of skilled labour. To confront this, TN took the lead in developing RoboCoach, an innovative assistive technology aiming to eliminate workplace barriers for youth and adults alike and formulating a comprehensive inclusion framework. Venturing into uncharted territories, TN has been discovering and nurturing the untapped talent within this often-overlooked population, offering training, mentorship, and additional social supports for disadvantaged workers and youth. TN’s mission thus remains anchored in improving the lives of those on the autism spectrum, ensuring they have access to meaningful work opportunities.
Ever since TN Digital Service initiated its autism employment program in 2019, the workforce has expanded to 16 employees with autism, supported by two job coaches. They provide document digitization and data management services to a diverse clientele, including the City of Edmonton, Alberta Innovates, the Alberta Government, and various local public and private sector entities.