mother and son with disabilities watching video on laptop

Softlanding

Supporting Canada’s autism community

Challenge

The Autism and/or Intellectual Disabilities Knowledge Exchange Network (AIDE Canada) needed a bilingual resource library and map to serve the autism community.

Solution

Softlanding used Microsoft Dynamics and Azure to create an inclusive and accessible platform providing evidence-based resources to more than 16,500 families.

Results

Within six months of launch, the website attracted an active community of 5,000 individual visitors. Users reported improved their skills, knowledge, and well-being.

Unique needs for a unique community

In Canada, one in every 66 children is diagnosed with autism, affecting about 16,500 families. Although these families and individuals make up a large and important part of Canada, it is often difficult for them access relevant, reliable, accessible information about autism. Canadians with intellectual disability are also commonly hindered by inaccessible design when they try to access information sites that have been built only with neuro-typical users in mind.

The Accessible Canada Act works to improve accessibility for everyone and remove regional obstacles to information and support. AIDE Canada grew out of this legislation. Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, AIDE Canada enables barrier-free access to information for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Development Disabilities, their families and caregivers.

A new destination to educate and empower

Where can the Canadian autism and/or intellectual disability community access information they can trust? AIDE Canada identified the lack of reliable, evidence-based information for the neurodiverse community and sought to end the regional disparities in the type of support and information available across the country. They resolved to build a national destination, a fully bilingual and accessible website acting as an online community, providing trustworthy research, practical tools, and other materials.

AIDE Canada set out to find a development partner that understood the unique needs of their unique community. Their expectation was to identify someone who would support and collaborate inclusively, with the technical expertise to create an accessible and successful website, thus making them an ideal partner. Softlanding checked all the boxes for a transformational change.

Breaking barriers with Azure

Softlanding and AIDE Canada focused on delivering a robust user experience designed to meet the diverse needs of their users. Learn, locate, and connect website sections intuitively organize the information into topics of interest to the community. These topics all align with different stages of the journey individuals, families, and caregivers go through when understanding autism and intellectual disability. And like any national web destination, the entire experience is fully bilingual, supporting both English and French.

Softlanding identified the best combination of technologies and Azure services to deliver a successful digital destination for AIDE Canada. With content playing a central role, Softlanding chose the Sitefinity platform for its powerful content management capabilities.

They quickly moved to development. Leveraging .NET and other modern web technologies, AIDE Canada’s custom website also integrates Azure Active Directory B2C for identity and access management including third-party security authentication. Softlanding’s solution also included a Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation to manage user profile information, campaigns, and case management for support.

An Agile development approach

Behind the scenes, Softlanding and AIDE Canada development teams followed an Agile methodology that optimizes collaboration. Agile practices empowered developers and product teams through an iterative software development approach grounded in the user experience. By following Agile practices, Softlanding and AIDE Canada’s teams delivered an accessible, bilingual website within scope, timeline, and budget.

Most importantly, within six months of launch, the AIDE Canada digital destination attracted over 5,000 unique visitors, representing 43,000 page views. To ensure it satisfied the needs and wants of its audience, third-party evaluators also user-tested the experience. Visitors to AIDE Canada’s new website reported its ease of navigation and access to proven educational resources improved their knowledge, skills, and well being.

A repeatable solution for change

The success of the Softlanding and AIDE Canada partnership provides an exemplar to the non-profit sector of rapid and secure digital transformation. By leveraging Azure and Dynamics, AIDE Canada’s solution suits the needs of other vital national organizations in search of better ways to operate.

Softlanding continues its long history of delivering innovative work with non-profit organizations and are proud that this success story inspires Microsoft partners across Canada. By modernizing our public sector and increasing accessibility to everyone, Softlanding and partners like them continue to make a meaningful social impact.

While many Canadian Microsoft partners do exemplary work with non-profits and charities, Softlanding’s pioneering work with AIDE Canada earns them the Social Impact/Inclusion Changemaker IMPACT Award from Microsoft.

“None of this success would have been possible without the dedication, skills, and expertise of the Softlanding team. Their work made the website accessible to our community members and a place where people can get the information they need in a way that is easy for them to use. Through the AIDE Canada web platform, the Softlanding team has been a significant part of developing a resource that has a positive, tangible, and dramatic impact for the autism and/or intellectual disability community in Canada.”

- Joanna Nefs, CEO, AIDE Canada

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