Episode 169 – Unstoppable Relentless Individual with Tony Labillois
Talk about “unstoppable”! Meet Tony Labillois. Tony has been blind his entire life. His parents insisted that he attend “regular school” in Quebec where he was born and grew up. He did not get some of the benefits of some assistive technologies such as Braille that might have better aided him. He saw enough that he was able to cope during school.
After high school he went to university in Quebec City where he majored in Statistics. Why statistics? Because he discovered that he loved mathematics and he felt he had the best opportunity to get a job and advance with this background. He joined the Canadian version of the U.S. census bureau, Statistics Canada, out of college and advanced he did. Today he serves as the Director General of the Justice, Diversity, Population Statistics Branch and co-leading Canada’s Disaggregated Data Action Plan.
There is even much more to Tony’s story. He imparts to us along the way some great life lessons. One, and my favorite, is "If you see a door that is a little bit open, go through it." That definitely summarizes Tony.
About the Guest:
Tony Labillois is a relentless individual who has defied the limitations of his low vision and legal blindness to lead an extraordinary life. His adventurous spirit has driven him to participate in thrilling activities such as rafting, driving a dogsled with his daughter, trying a bobsled in Lake Placid, and water skiing on one ski. Tony’s disability has served as a catalyst for personal growth and has inspired him to continuously seek creative and effective ways to embrace life to the fullest while pursuing a successful career and giving back to others.
Throughout his fruitful career, Tony has dedicated his entire professional life to Statistics Canada, where he has steadily climbed the ranks over a span of more than 30 years. Currently serving as the Director General of the Justice, Diversity, Population Statistics Branch and co-leading Canada’s Disaggregated Data Action Plan , Tony has accumulated extensive leadership experience and honed his skills in program and project management, budgeting, and human resources. His role expanded in 2002 when he became a Champion for People with Disabilities, advocating for full participation and valuing the contributions and productivity of every individual. This expanded responsibility allowed Tony to gain comprehensive knowledge about disabilities, effective accommodations, accessibility, and potential solutions. His exceptional efforts were recognized in 2012 when he received the Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his outstanding leadership in promoting diversity.
In September 2020, Tony assumed the positions of Vice-Chair of the Governing Council and Chair of the Advisory Council of the Canadian Accessibility Network (CAN). This national partnership which now includes more than 80 collaborating organizations from the private, academic, non-profit and public sectors focuses on advancing accessibility for individuals with disabilities through research, design and innovation, education and training, policy, employment, and community engagement. Tony’s appointment to these key roles highlights his expertise in the field and his commitment to driving positive change for persons with disabilities.
Guided by his personal motto, "If you see a door that is a little bit open, go through it," Tony Labillois exemplifies resilience, determination, and a relentless pursuit of opportunities.
Ways to connect with Tony:
LinkedIn: Tony LaBillois – Directeur général, Direction de la statistique juridique, de la diversité et de la population – Statistique Canada | LinkedIn
How to enjoy life : LABILLOIS, TONY, ou Comment profiter de la vie – RAAQ
Podcast on Accessibility with Tony: Eh Sayers Season 1 Episode 1 – Talk about the barriers, not the disability: Activity limitations and COVID-19 (statcan.gc.ca)
Canadian Accessibility Network (CAN) link: Accessibility Institute – Carleton University
Disaggregated Data Action Plan information :
Disaggregated data action plan: Why it matters to you (statcan.gc.ca)
Disaggregated Data Accomplishments report 2021-22: Better Quality Data for Better Decision Making (statcan.gc.ca)
Information on the Justice Diversity and population statistics Branch and Statistics Canada:
Center for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics Hub : Gender, diversity and inclusion statistics (statcan.gc.ca)
Crime and Justice Statistics : Crime and justice statistics (statcan.gc.ca)
Canada’s population Clock (real-time model) : Canada's population clock (real-time model) (statcan.gc.ca)
Statistics Canada General site : Statistics Canada: Canada's national statistical agency / Statistique Canada : Organisme statistique national du Canada (statcan.gc.ca)
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson ** 01:21
Well, hi, there I am Mike Hingson, your host for unstoppable mindset. We’re inclusion diversity in the unexpected meet. And today we get to have the opportunity to chat with Tony Labillois who is from Canada. He works and does a lot of leading things in Statscan. And he’ll tell us about that. I’m sure. He’s a very active kind of guy. He is done bobsledding. He’s done waterskiing, and with one ski and a number of such kinds of things. And I’m going to really leave it to him to tell us a whole lot more as we go through the next hour or so. But Tony, I want to welcome you to unstoppable mindset. And thank you very much for being here.
Tony Labillois ** 02:04
Thank you very much, Michael. Yeah, it’s a pleasure and an honor for me to be sharing this episode with you.
Michael Hingson ** 02:09
Well, thank you for for doing this will tell you a little bit about this whole idea of of bobsledding and so on, that must have been a lot of fun.
Tony Labillois ** 02:20
I am a guy who likes to push the limits and live life to the fullest. I am always assessing risks for myself as well. I like to be careful for making sure I stay in good shape and healthy. But at the same time I like to extorting so when the opportunity arise, and there may be some of our listeners today that you will have suggestions for me of what I could try to do next. But I’m always looking at possibilities to experiment something fun, safe and unforgettable.
Michael Hingson ** 03:02
Well, you did say you want to jump off a mountain, right?
Tony Labillois ** 03:06
Yeah, yeah, I would love to actually use a delta wing and in tandem jump off a mountain when the wind wants to collaborate. But unfortunately, so far when I tried, the wind was not there for me on those days.
Michael Hingson ** 03:24
I hate it when that happens. But someday, maybe the university will will let you do it. My high school geometry teacher had his 86th birthday yesterday, he was telling me that in the past, someone that he knew had actually acquired something called a powered parachute. Are you familiar with that? No. So I don’t know a lot about it but apparently it’s a parachute and it has a motor on it and actually can I don’t know whether it is a fan or how it works but you can strap this on lay out the parachute activate it and go flying with the parachute being what what you use to control where you go and how you go and so on. And he actually in the he lives in Nebraska, and he flew with it around his farm a couple of times. I never heard of a powered parachute before so there’s something else for you to to explore. Although I don’t know whether you can do it in tandem or how that would work.
Tony Labillois ** 04:28
I’m not sure I want to drive this that’s what our responses Yeah, I
Michael Hingson ** 04:31
hear you. I should explain for you listening that Tony is blind. He’s a low vision kind of guy. And so we we share some of that which is which is kind of fun. Like as I was telling him once I did Alpine sliding once which is sliding down the mountain inside of a house with a pipe on a special sled it’s a summer sport. It’s a lot of fun. And so you you can if you go too fast jump To track and you can in all the twists and turns, you can have all sorts of challenges just like if you were skiing or sledding down a mountain in the winter. So it’s it’s a way to keep ski resorts open in the summer, I guess.
Tony Labillois ** 05:13
Well, yeah. And one other thing I experimented in the summer and I loved was water slides and anything related with the water and the beach. I’m there.
Michael Hingson ** 05:28
You’re you’re there that way. That’s makes sense. I read our saw on the news last night, or this morning somebody was in the ocean, and I don’t remember what state they were in. They were kind of waist deep and got stung by a Stingray, which is no fun.
Tony Labillois ** 05:46
No, certainly not. I
Michael Hingson ** 05:49
would rather not have that happen to me either. She survived. They had to surgically remove the bar, but she did survive some investments. Okay. Well, anyway. So let’s kind of go back and start at the beginning. Why don’t you tell us about the early Tony, tell me about you growing up and some of that kind of stuff? Oh, well, sure. Let’s go back to the beginning and figure it all out.
Tony Labillois ** 06:16
Was born with low vision. For me. It’s the vision that I’m used to it’s normal vision. I see colors. I enjoy art I traveled alone or with people when I was a child where the parents learned very early that my parents that I love learning, I was like three months old that I met, I might never see anything. And to make a long story short, they believe that everything was possible. Despite the mentality of the late 60s, they fought for making sure I would go to normal school, I would stay closer to them. I was born in the gas because near the Atlantic Ocean in eastern Quebec, in Eastern Canada, between the mountains and the sea, and a school for Braille or other things related to functionalize a blind person was was in Montreal, it was like 10 hours from where I was born. So they wanted to keep me there. I had a very enjoyable childhood, I learned to go into a bicycle with with my dad actually running after me and showing me how to find the balance I needed. So I I was very introverted. I was very happy still. And I think a few friends that each time I would enter a school, I knew I would have to prove my place there. And I guess I was lucky in elementary school because I was too young to realize this. But some people suddenly told my parents that, yeah, I could I could go to regular school. And my mom was like, What do you mean? Yeah, you can go to regular school. They expected him to go to regular school, though. So my dad and I did my elementary school with them, and then my high school with them and then decided to go for the big city and Quebec City, which was like seven hours from home to study in college and university and I studied statistics. And I mean, that’s that, I was still relatively quiet, and still much more outgoing than when I was a teenager or even when I arrived in Quebec City, I saw events that happened at the end of my high school price I’ve been introduced in the award ceremony and the price that as my name is still given to the people finishing high school, where I finished in the Gospels. And it’s for for actually, for students who I successfully overcome challenges, either physically, psychologically or socially. And I’m proud because as an adult, I contributed to the prize itself I give. I double the amount of money that’s given by the school. Each time it’s given. It’s not given each year but it’s given each time a student deserve it. It will be for the year is next year actually, we talked about this and it’s, I send the message to each of the, the winners. And I would say that over 30 some winners after me, I’ve gotten the price. And it’s a source of inspiration when I learned about the stories of these, these teenagers as well.
Michael Hingson ** 10:30
So, you, you, you contribute to the prize and you help make students a decimal which school is this given?
Tony Labillois ** 10:42
It’s called a call on one Bell. Now it’s actually in Vegas, because it’s a high school. It’s a high school, public high school where I went.
Michael Hingson ** 10:51
So what kind of students have won the prize?
Tony Labillois ** 10:55
This students with with activity limitations or disabilities, there was a student even from Vietnam that arrived in Canada with a wave of both people in is there has been last year that they were not two years ago, there were two students, it was the first time that there were two students. One was a young man who was playing tennis at very high level. And the young woman was doing all kinds of artistic things, including singing and those obviously having exemplary behaviors and good marks at school.
Michael Hingson ** 11:48
Well, that is that is pretty cool, though, to have that kind of prize and to be able to contribute to it and make it better. Let’s say you went to college and you went to UCF Quebec City to go to college.
Tony Labillois ** 12:02
Yeah, a university in Quebec City as well. Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 12:04
And you majored in statistics.
Tony Labillois ** 12:07
Yes, yes, I studied there. Between a few get togethers and parties, I got my degree. And then I was surprised to be recruited by Statistics Canada, our national statistics, organization, National Statistics Office for the country. In the US, you have the US Bureau of census and a number of other organizations involved in producing statistics for your country. Make sure that your citizens and decision makers are well equipped to make the right decisions. In Canada, it’s a bit more centralized. provinces and territories have a role to play in the statistical system, so do the local authorities with us. But Statistics Canada is part of the national federal government and is much more centralized than in the US and we cover in addition to the census that we do each year, since it’s a population and Census of Agriculture, we have more than 350 sample surveys that are active with different frequencies. And we mostly these days, integrate lots of data from different sources. And we use data science to also augment the power of data insights that we provide to Canadians. We are regulated with the Statistics Act at Statscan. And we we basically cover all the aspects of the Canadian economy, in society and environment. We also protect the confidentiality of the information that we receive very carefully. Because it’s all based on trust. If you want to have the right picture of the of the country, every aspect of Canadian lives, you need to maintain a very good level of trust with the different people that end businesses and other organizations that respond and with the other stakeholders, you need to maintain close ties with a number of other government organizations and private sector organizations or groups of organizations as well as associations.
Michael Hingson ** 14:52
So what got you interested in statistics that you decided to make that your your college study
Tony Labillois ** 14:59
wasn’t true? stood in science in college. In fact, my college was all about Pure and Applied Sciences. But being born with low vision, I had to be realistic. If I wanted to reach my full potential in a discipline, it would not necessarily be in engineering, if I felt that way that it wouldn’t be an engineering, if I wanted to visit a plant or even in biology, if I wanted to study by myself, with the microscope and stuff, I mean, these days, things have evolved. But you got to remember that in the late 80s, when I was a student, the accommodations were not the norm in schools, and nor in the labor market. And suddenly, I realized that I love maths, and I wanted to apply maths in a way that would be useful to others in a way that would be applied. I’m an action oriented person, and I needed something that would be tangible that would be useful, not just pure math, or something theoretical in physics, or I wanted something applied and connected to the real world. And I choose statistics for for that reason. And then I started in Statscan. And the rest is history or years of history.
Michael Hingson ** 16:39
So you went to Statscan, basically, right out of college, he said, I’ve
Tony Labillois ** 16:44
run out of university and left Quebec City for other while I did not know much about otherwise came to visit. Statistics Canada and the people I started getting were really welcoming. They were friendly, the were open, the word inclusive. In fact, my first chief was the first one to offer me recommendations. And she she basically told me that I was hired for my competencies, I was there to achieve results, and she wanted to give me the best chances to achieve those results. And she said, you can list all the things you would want to get. And we’ll buy them and install them for you. So that you’re productive, and you’re fully part of the team. So for me, that was a message that was wow, wow, they really care. And again, at that time, I’m not seeing that very much. I worked very successfully in summer jobs as a programmer or even in statistics for fishing department. And you’re making me go very deep in my memories. This is fun, actually. That was Ministry of fishing, hunting and leisure in Quebec at the time I’d worked there for a summer and then I had been a programmer analyst for paper available. i My dad used to work in our village and yeah, it worked successfully. But there were they talked to me about buying me a monitor arm or about offering me a little telescope or other things to fully participate and in them in the labor market. So that’s kind of was welcoming that I felt that sense of community. Yeah, I had a fruitful career since then. And I tried a few times I’ve tested the waters elsewhere a few times in my career. And I always choose to stay even when I had offers elsewhere. And in retrospect, I think I think that was a great choice. In fact, my my father in law at the time, told me that because I was a bit afraid of going along to Ottawa at first do I have to learn English and everything and I was thinking it was like far far away from from where my friends were and my comfort zone was he says, well not where are you? You’re capable and the first five five years are the most tough when you when you will somewhere if it was very short five years and in retrospect, he was right five years seemed longer at the time, but it’s like we I think we said Michael previously together that that time flies and we better enjoy it and have the most fun because it will fly anyway.
Michael Hingson ** 19:55
You know, it’s interesting today, we hear a lot more about people I’m moving around and not staying at a job. And I know especially here in the United States, of course, a lot of it is financially motivated and so on. But you stayed even though you had other other job offers or other opportunities, what really made you stay.
Tony Labillois ** 20:21
Statscan is a place where I could contribute, I could learn about myself, I couldn’t explore my leadership, develop my leadership, I could learn and contribute. And for me, when there’s sufficient amount of learning, sufficient amount of contribution that I can give somewhere and get somewhere, I stay engaged, I stay up here to wake up in the morning. Yeah, and there are some mornings that are tougher than others, not for everybody else. But I stand at the Statistics Canada reminds me as a professional community that I will make a parallel with the village where I come from, there’s a sense of community, there’s a sense of belonging, there’s a network of colleagues that I have in Statistics Canada, in the federal government, in the stakeholders that we have in Stats Canada, and because I moved around a lot in Statistics Canada, you got to know that Statistics Canada is now more than 7000 employees, probably more than 9000, if you count all our interviewers, and I’m privileged enough to be among about 20, Director generals of the organization. So I am, I was even much younger, in much lower ranks. But I felt that sense of, of belonging and that sense of being able to develop myself, and create, be creative and innovate. And I’ve been offered lots of cool challenges to try to achieve with teams, I love to work in teams, I discovered that for myself, I discovered my leadership, as I was mentioning, by even having the trust of others first to get to supervise a student, and then to get to supervisory code. And maybe discovered that I love that. And then I would earn some trust in myself and others would gain some trust in me, to give me even more people to supervise as a unit. And then as a chief. And as achieve, I had to do special surveys on businesses on topics that we would not normally cover in the base program of the disease Canada, but that other clients would want to buy from us and sponsor with their funds so that we would, in record time in six months to a year, we would do a survey from start to finish from negotiating our track to delivering results and presenting results to clients and other stakeholders. So I had an exciting career. That’s also why I stayed.
Michael Hingson ** 23:17
Well, you can you started out by being extremely welcomed, which has to mean a lot. And it sounds like that’s really continued through the years. When did you first start with Statscan
Tony Labillois ** 23:32
1989, the Fourth of July 1989 was my first day.
Michael Hingson ** 23:37
So now we’re talking about what 34 years. Yeah, so clearly, there had to be something that made you feel welcomed, continuously, much less what you then did for yourself, which is important to you and how you, you grew. So I think that’s that’s extremely relevant. And it’s so unfortunate that all too often, people seem not to really do it nearly as much today, at least in the US, it’s looking for the next big thing, rather than might it really be best to just stick with a home.
Tony Labillois ** 24:19
Say that home is coming. Be close to your own values. If your organization is if you’re not adhering to the same values in Europe, the organization you work for. You might not stay for very long and you should not stay for too long. If you realize that it’s not well aligned. For me, this is a key for success in that sense of belonging sharing the During to common values and communication is also very important in all directions, making sure that the service to Canadians is also highlighted, making sure that we produce that data that is important for the decision making and for the discussions that will lead to the decision making. And so that this data is a pillar for for possible change, that sustainable change in in our economy, our society, monitoring is one thing, but also leveraging data and insights for for making sure that the right development of the policies, programs, services to Canadians happens. And take for example, what we’re trying to do right now I have the privilege also to be the CO leader of our desegregated data action plan. This segregated data action plan is an initiative that started that a bit before COVID, but was certainly accelerated with what we noticed in COVID-19. Times. As soon as COVID hit, I thought, and I said to others around me, well, it will be even more disparities between people more and more risks of leaving behind certain segments of the population. And I wasn’t the only one because we got a significant investment in Statistics Canada to further disaggregate our information, usually, a national statistical agency with that reduce national and provincial or territorial level information is aggregating the data suddenly means that we produce information at a much more detailed level for to ensure that we reflect the differences. For example, if you are in a case where you look at the rate of incarceration, many people are incarcerated in Canada, what’s the percentage seems very low on the overall population, but if you start splitting men and women, yeah, you’ll find differences between men and women. That’s interesting. But if you start also looking at that, the indigenous populations versus non Indigenous Wow, you’ll find a big difference for indigenous that more interactions with our justice system. And you’ll you’ll do that also for racialized populations, you if you break down that group, will even notice that some subgroups of the racialized populations are even more airy than others irate and others have incarceration, or have dealings with the justice system. That’s not to pinpoint them. That’s actually to try to assess what kind of systemic barriers, what kind of needs they have, and that are not met because of these systemic barriers. And we’re trying to do that, and surveys, like our labor force survey are in obviously, we do that already. And we’ve done that in the census. So we have a general social statistics program in which we also disaggregating and producing the data is one thing, but producing the insights and the tools and the training for people to understand and use the data in their work wherever whatever their responsibilities are for policies, programs, or other activities in Canada. That’s that’s very important. That’s when a statistical system can be in action. Take for example, the all the terrible events that we’re facing with climate change, floods, wildfires, and other hazards are, unfortunately, happening more and more in the statistical agency that like statistics Skyler and I have a lot of information. I have a lot of expertise in integrating data and can produce tools, training and provide data and insights to the people that assess the risks. of these disasters, or that have to manage an emergency situation, or to manage the recovery of a community, or economically or socially after a disaster occurred. So I’m currently working with partners to try to improve the data ecosystem in this context, and provide them with the tools to support their activities and the information, obviously, to support these activities. That’s a very big challenge, because of the many stakeholders involved in such programs. And in such situations,
Michael Hingson ** 30:47
you find that as you’re, you’re analyzing data, and you’re you’re providing evidence of certain kinds of conditions, like indigenous people tend to have more interactions with the justice systems or climate change. Do you? Do you tend to find resistance that says, Oh, this really can’t be the case? Or that it becomes politically not feasible to do? Or do you think that people are pretty much at least in Canada genuinely open to really wanting to deal with things, but what kind of happens to all the data?
Tony Labillois ** 31:29
I’ll say that I see lots of openness. Certainly, in the, in all levels of governments, we had, for example, we started I started with other colleagues a few years ago, an initiative with the Canadian Federation of municipalities, where we now establish a center for local and municipal data. And we provide dashboards and tools on all kinds of aspects of what’s happening in a city, like Toronto, or even a midsize city in Canada, and we get much more collaboration from the cities to provide data to Statscan as well. So that we have an exchange, we give them something they provide us the raw material and their priorities as well. So I see lots of openness from the governments at all levels. And I will say that we need to raise awareness of the ways the best ways, what are the best ways to use data, what are examples of successful use of disaggregated data, for example, to change a program to change a service to better serve in Indians, or a policy. And in, there are some times where we preach to the choir, where we speak to data specialists that are all gung ho about data, and they know we need it, and that’s okay. We don’t have to convince them. But we need them as allies to further have a snowball effect in different government departments, but also in in society in general. I’ll say that there are some trends in Canada. And we observe also what’s happening in the US where, that there’s some people that tend to believe things that are sent, as long as it’s said by someone that they trust or that they take as the truth. And we have to try our best to make them listen to make sure that they look at the data or that they’re aware of the existence of the data. And then, yeah, they can make their own choice, our statistics guy that is not involved in any political way. We’re independent. And we want to stay that way. But we’re there to give advice on the importance of having the right information. I mean, in in a democracy, having a transparent and neutral and apolitical organization that is arm’s length from the political power is extremely important. It’s a very important mirror of what’s happening in the country for different aspects of its economy, society, our environment, and I strongly believe that that we we make a difference. And I strongly believe that the work will never be finished in making sure that we To showcase not only the data but the power that leveraging the statistically sound information has towards the greater good, we in fact, we, we have a little ashtag disaggregated data for good. And we really have a mission and vision up towards making sure that we improve the public good with the right data. Put in the hands of the decision makers and agile all the ones that can can benefit from from information, including all citizens.
Michael Hingson ** 35:49
Do you think I’m just kind of curious that sort of as a natural thing that pops into my head? Do you think that what you do and the data that you collect, and that you analyze, and so on, is treated differently in Canada than the similar functions here in the US? Or do you think that the department, the Census Department and so on, as well trusted and you think there’s some some differences? Can you tell?
Tony Labillois ** 36:18
I wouldn’t venture commenting? I will say that, that, that, for building trust, there’s a need for lots of partnership and cooperation. Yeah, that in the statistical system, and much beyond, for preserving trust these days in any of our institutions, we need lots of communication, we need lots of relevance, lots of consultations, as well, for example, that we had a concept since the 80s, called visible minorities in Canada, that includes all the people of color, and that we are temporarily calling the the different combination of all the groups we call in racialized groups right now. But we’re consulting them, we during a year, with various means, so that we try to find the best way to call the combination of these of these groups. In fact, in our sensors, the questions that we have for ethnicity is based on how people perceive themselves. And then after that, we combined some answers to create variables that are needed in terms of either racialized groups or ethnicity are, you know, if we were looking at race or things like that, and we were also consulting a lot when we introduced in census 2021, for the first time, detailed question on gender. We’re testing right now, and consulting for possible question on sexual orientation in that 26. Which will be perceived, I’m sure, as very sensitive. So we, the fact that trust is based on outreach and two way communication, and partnerships with the right associations and the right stakeholders, I think is key for relevance, because there’s lots of people working on data right now. There’s lots of private sector organizations that have that role, probably more petabytes of data than then Statscan will ever have. And but how do we stay relevant in this world? I mean, it, it comes from making sure that we’re there for the public good, and with the the public and the other stakeholders working with us? Very closely. So it’s, it’s a question of thing. Well positioned and relevant. And, obviously, yes, we, we try to partner with all the players that have an interest in in the same direction than us.
Michael Hingson ** 39:39
Hi, I hear exactly what I’m saying when you’re talking about trust and communication. And so I think it’s extremely important and it is, it is an issue that we often face. The people tend not to communicate and sometimes they can’t or sometimes they just don’t want to but it is an issue that I think is worldwide, and probably some places more than others. But it is an issue. And without good communications without conversation without education, and awareness, it’s very difficult to develop trust. And so, you know, I know, for example, we can talk and and probably should sum about disabilities in general, we’ve tended to be a little bit less a part of a lot of the conversations that people have. I’ve heard from people in a number of countries that that there just hasn’t been as much awareness building or acceptance about disabilities as Do you. Do you think that’s true? Or how are you looking to try to address those kinds of things
Tony Labillois ** 40:48
I’ve been I’ve been champion for persons with disabilities in my organization and beyond since 2002. And I’ve witnessed the heterogeneity of activity, limitations of people and activity, intelligibility also of acceptance of themselves, and the third unity of meanings that they’re accepted by others. But also the originality of the creativity of people with activity limitations. I’m deliberately not using persons with disabilities, just because I think after the pandemic, it’s even more obvious that it’s not just the people that traditionally identify themselves as persons with disabilities that need an accessible world, or a number of recommendations. And I’ve expanded that those views in another podcast actually, that we have a series at statistics guy that I the first episode of our podcast where it was on accessibility. And I explained my views on that way that podcast, but coming back to your question that that really that there’s a lot that needs to be done in terms of accessibility and person with disabilities and for for persons with disabilities by persons with disabilities, or people with activity limitations as well. They need to speak up first, they need to feel confident that they can speak up, and they can talk about their needs that they can, that they will be heard that. And we have a number of ways that statistics organization where we make sure that they’re heard, then we have now with the newly arrived, Accessibility Act in Canada, in 2019. And in the strategy for accessibility in the public service, in each department, we we have our own plans for for enhancing accessibility. So in the public service that they start in the Kenyan society and economy, a lot needs to be done. Even though we’re one of the most fortunate country I will say, in terms of accessibility and inclusion. From what I’ve experienced when I travel, or by talking with others, we have created a Canadian accessibility network. With the leadership of Carleton University, we are now more than 80 Collaborating organizations from academia, private sector, public sector, nonprofit, and all working towards more accessibility in Canada in policies, Employment Research and Design, in all kinds of aspects. And we have communities of practices that that work together to make a more accessible in Canada. And I’m fortunate enough to lead the and charity Advisory Council of this organization that is made of representative of each of these organizations. And I can tell you that we’re stronger together when we speak about the not only about the issues, but about the solutions that need to be brought forward in for a greater participation in the economy and the society. And I would be curious to have your views on how such a network should approach that daunting challenge that we have because we’re only three years old. But I would like to hear your views on how we bring more large business As another player is on board, but also either we have even more traction, more action oriented results more more impact.
Michael Hingson ** 45:10
I think that the most important thing is to really continue to work in an education will maybe create some events where you invite a number of the leaders of larger corporations and organizations to, to come together and, and discuss this event is bringing some speakers it is something I’ve done before, at various places around the US and in some other countries as well. To bring in speakers to talk and interact with, I think it’s from, from my perspective, as a speaker, I don’t want to talk to I want to talk with and so I can deliver a speech, but it’s even much more engaging, fun and relevant, to have a dialogue. And so, I think that if you target corporations that are larger, and especially if you have one or two that already do become involved with persons with disabilities more bring those in as, as featured parts of something that we do, as well as others who are visible in the disabilities community throughout the world, to help educate and have as a goal to leave that event with plans for the other organizations, or at least the start of building a framework of plans for the other organizations as to how they can involve more persons with disabilities. But I think the biggest thing is education, parents simple. It is really, that most people think that disability means a lack of ability, which isn’t true. And I know people will say what disability begins with dis, which is not well, that isn’t always the way that this is used. So I don’t think that it needs to be that way. And I think that, that we need to really start to understand more about words, and how words matter. And people seem to have no trouble with changing meanings of words. I mean, look at diversity, diversity tends to leave out disabilities, that it shouldn’t, but it does. And I think they’ve been just by inertia attempts to try to do some of that with inclusion. But I think more people are pushing back. I know I do to say you’re not inclusive, unless you include people with disabilities. And you can say, but but we do include race. Well, that’s not being inclusive. If you leave out other people, diversity is already left the station. And I think that having those kinds of discussions is part of what probably is extremely important to do to help educate. But I think that we as persons with disabilities are the best people to provide teaching moments for people assuming that they want to learn, and there are a lot of people who happen to have a disability, who are they say tired of being teaching? Well, I don’t think that we can afford that. I think that we have to engage and be part of the discussion and help teach me the result of that will be that there are more companies that will realize that, oh, maybe it isn’t what we thought it was. And they will move forward from there. So that would be kind of one of my, my immediate reactions to it. And kind of what I would do, but I think scheduling some events and bringing people in from inside and outside Canada might be something that would be very helpful to be able to just start the dialogue, but you got to start somewhere.
Tony Labillois ** 49:02
It’s very interesting. The we already have a series that we call can connect, or Canadian accessibility network and connecting ourselves. And we could consider expanding this into something broader and even more focused meetings with some organizations. And thank you for that the advice. The thing is that we, I see a parallel between what you just said about education, for making awareness better for persons with disabilities by persons with disabilities, but also education, as I was mentioning for for statistics and the power of data. So it’s interesting that it’s kind of the same answer here raise awareness with a number of means to To make sure we captivate the audience, we are interested in the audience.
Michael Hingson ** 50:08
Well, I think that most people want to learn most people, maybe function a little bit out of fear not knowing about disabilities. But most people, I think are open to wanting to do more, if they can understand, it makes good sense. I mean, look at your story. Why did you stay so long and even get started at Statscan, you were welcomed. And that is probably a little bit unusual in terms of how much you were welcomed from the outset. But you started to establish credibility. And people have continued to recognize that through the years, that’s a story that is really hard to be when, when people hear how someone decided that there was really no problem with hiring somebody who was different than they are. And if we have to make some accommodations, we’ll do that. And Statscan did that, which is a wonderful story to tell. But I think there there are other stories like that, and it is certainly something that that makes sense to explore. And
Tony Labillois ** 51:26
we have lots of other stories like yeah, statistics gala is is it’s not just words, it’s actually for equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, took a while for people to understand what means accessibility. But now and more and more, they understand because they ask the question, their test is that needs to ask questions when they’re starting something, to console to ask people to test what they’re developing, or to provide feedback and so on. And that’s that exchange that I’m talking about that two way communication, keeps us engaged, and keeps us moving forward for making an organization or society, or even our own life better.
Michael Hingson ** 52:23
And I bet there are other places inside and outside Canada, where you can find similar stories, so that you can create an environment and invite corporations to come and hear those stories, them and to learn, and then challenge them, and offer solutions to help them do the same sort of thing. And I think that’s I think that’s really the issue.
Tony Labillois ** 52:53
There are plenty of other stories, making them known and showing to people that it’s not just to be nice. It’s actually right now with the labor shortage, it’s actually a business case to try to include all the people that can participate in the labor
Michael Hingson ** 53:18
market. But look at this, look at it this way. You go into most any building, you have lights, why so that people can see where they’re walking, you have probably coffee rooms or snack rooms where there are coffee machines, or tea pots or other things like that, why? To keep employees happy. Everyone gets a computer monitor who needs a computer why so that they can do their business? Those are all things that the general corporate world regards as some of the costs of doing business. What isn’t? So viewed so often is making accommodations for persons with disabilities, like you talked about some of the things that you needed or my where I might need or ask for a screen reader or access to some other technologies that I might need in order to be able to function as well. Those two should be part of the cost of doing business. And what we really need to do is to educate people to the reality that they are part of the cost of doing business. And the people who realize that and provide those accommodations in hire people are more likely, statistically speaking, to have employees that will stay loyal because we know how hard it was to get the job in the first place.
Tony Labillois ** 54:42
Yeah, and I will say that again, there’s a need for that conversation with all employees because of changing the changing workplace conditions that we have right now after COVID with I bring work with, that’s a number of open space that our desks but they’re not this assigned to a certain individual and so on. Some people were not perceiving themselves as having a disability, but they had an implicit accommodation, some membership recommendations in the previous models, but suddenly the models changed. And when those models are changing, it comes back to what we measure when we measure disability or other characteristics in our Canadian survey on disability, by the way, our results will come out in later this year close to international day, for persons with disabilities in December, believe we’re gonna reuse on December 1, or something like that, that when we measure, it’s a social model, it’s the model is based on on the barriers that people experience in their lives. Like for the city, when I mentioned that we were measuring how people perceive themselves, we even measure how they perceive that the environment around them and themselves for certain aspects of their daily life, their interactions in in society and economy of Canada. And you sort of realized after that, that you get more people with activity limitations, then the ones that will tick a box, Are you a person with disability yes or no? Or which deliver disability do you have in the list? When you ask them about if they feel pain? How is it like? Is it moderate? Is it high? Is it seldom is it often all the time, suddenly, you get much finer results, and much more accurate results and much more information on how these people need to be accommodated, and how they need the world to be accessible, and how they can participate in the workplace and so on. So there’s a number of people right now that need and some some recommendations, some some accessibility, but they’re not used to speak about it. They’re not, they didn’t have to before, but certainly because of the barriers that this new environment created for them, oops, that they didn’t perceive themselves as persons with disabilities. Imagine that you’re just living with someone that has a weak immune system. You don’t want to cash COVID or something else. Imagine that you have developed more anxiety of germs or of social gatherings with huge crowds, because of COVID. Already Imagine that you were always with anxiety, but it was welcomed control. Suddenly you you were going to your office, you knew who your neighbors would be you were add predictability in the meeting rooms you use and so on. But suddenly works, you’re you’re booking an office like if it was a parking lot. Yep. And you don’t know who’s going to be in the parking is besides you. Yeah, that’s changing the whole game. For some people, we react to raise awareness about that, too.
Michael Hingson ** 58:41
We tend to not, like change as much as we think we do, even though we say change is always all around us. And so COVID certainly was a great teacher in that regard, for exactly the reasons that you said. And it is something that we need to look at, and do need to address. And we, we get way too comfortable sometimes. And I appreciate comfort, highlight comfort as well as next person. But I also know that there’s a lot of value in going out of what your typical comfort zone is. I and you somewhat although you have some eyesight, but I would say every time I cross the street, I’m going out of my comfort zone, who knows what that car that I might hear, way down the street is going to do? Are they going to stop or not? And so we we all have challenges and I would also say that not one single person on this planet is a person with a disability. Most people’s disability is like dependents, you know, just have the power go out in the building and see how well people do until they find a new lead source.
Tony Labillois ** 59:53
You are better in those conditions and most of them Yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 59:56
well the problem is that technology is covered it up for people because we’ve made light on demand such a popular and important thing in our lives doesn’t change the fact that they’re disabled, or they’re persons with disabilities because they’re light dependent. So, you know, it is it is something we have to deal with. You mentioned the year that I’m sorry, go ahead.
Tony Labillois ** 1:00:16
No, I was just about to say that we develop a lot of abilities in our lives, as human beings can develop a lot of abilities. If I was a shy person, I was not accepting myself, we will with my low vision. And suddenly, the the surprise that has my name on it that I was awarded for first winner of the prize. I mean, that made me reflect during that summer. That made me realize that I had developed strengths that others were recognizing and that I was neglecting, I was not necessarily seeing them as much as I should. And I should work on on those trends. So when I arrived at USC, I had a different mindset. I had the mindset where I decided to experiment, day after day, to slowly get out of my comfort zone. I was at a point earlier in my life, where I was shy to ask for the time to someone on the street, because I am not the watch. I didn’t know my watch or something. But I decided to go forward and make friends, I decided to go forward and ask for things that I needed. I decided to accept myself, embrace myself and to develop my abilities. I didn’t know it would lead. I never expected that I would have the life I have. And all the experiences that I had along the way in this wonderful journey. And it’s not over. I hope it’s not over unless I fall under just at the bottom of the mountain when I jump but I have I’m going to develop and explore even more of these things and that I’m developing. So I think it’s very important to recognize that a human being can develop themselves can can know themselves better, and learn to trust themselves and get out of their shell and get and gain, the recognition, the credibility, the trust from others, as you were saying before, so that they they’re even more feeling that’s normal effect to grow, and everybody can go. And in fact, I realized that it’s my initial condition that made me the person with the values that I have. And that that shaped my character that shape. What I could do with my life, obviously, yeah, I needed others around me to encourage me to do it. Great parents, I have great friends along the way I drink colleagues and sex guide and and, and supervisors as well. And great employee, I mean, those employees would probably have elected me in senior positions much earlier if it was for them, because they weren’t the first ones to suggest I should apply to more senior positions as I was going in my career. They were the ones who pushed me and made me reflect that I could push myself. So I think human beings have ability that they need to develop, regardless of their their initial conditions. They gotta stay positive and believe and learn to believe in themselves,
Michael Hingson ** 1:03:50
which is what unstoppable mindset is really all about. And we all can be more than sampled, but we think we can, if we really explore it, and really think about it and listening to you. Clearly, a lot of what you have done is because you made certain choices, and you decided to stick with it. And they worked out or if they didn’t, then you re evaluated, but it is all about choice. But it is about choice of growing and becoming more than what you were before.
Tony Labillois ** 1:04:22
That’s a good way to say it. I think again, yeah, I was actually in the first few weeks in Statscan. If I had a career plan where I would see myself in one year, two years, five years, I said Well, no I don’t. So yeah, I reflected I had kind of a plan in my mind. But I was always open to all the possibilities. All the doors maybe it’s important to be really watching for doors that can open for you in personal life or professional life. They were here I mean suddenly A someone saw me somewhere and gotten a little message and then we got connected, which was, which is wonderful. But if I had neglected the door, it might as it might have been closed as quickly as it opened, me being looking around, always aware of what’s happening without the current weather, where’s the wind blowing, and deciding without remorse and regrets, where we go as captain of our own journey is extremely important. And opening those doors looking at those doors that are open, and what’s behind them, is also extremely important. And we may choose not to enter or to enter. It’s, it’s important to do that consciously. And some people don’t realize or don’t take risks. And risk is important to mitigate. We talked about that in the first few comments in this conversation. But it’s important to once we’ve evaluated the risk to take and move forward.
Michael Hingson ** 1:06:21
But you can’t take the risk until you evaluate it. And you’re absolutely right, you have to look at it. And in reality, life is all about choices. You can choose what to do or what not to do. And okay, it may not be the right choice. As it turns out, it might very well be that that happens. If it does, then you go back and you look at what you do. Instead, other doors will open, what we do have to look for them, as you said,
Tony Labillois ** 1:06:50
not choosing is not the right choice, because suddenly you’re just
Michael Hingson ** 1:06:57
well, it is a choice, it’s not a good choice
Tony Labillois ** 1:07:00
to leave in the wind. And it’s kind of scary. So I prefer choosing even if sometimes I’m wrong, yeah. And live with the consequences, and then learn from the mistakes, learning from the mistakes. As we need to observe what doors are opening and what’s behind those doors. We also need to reflect on what we can learn from from those bad choices, or even a lack of choice or lack of awareness of something. Sure, and then move forward as well with that learning in our in our luggage.
Michael Hingson ** 1:07:39
Gotta start by choosing. Well, I want to thank you for being here. And I think that the advice, and the things that we’ve just talked about are are extremely invaluable for anyone. And I hope that people will take them to heart. If people want to reach out to you or learn more, how do they do that?
Well, I’m very active on LinkedIn. And I’m using, I’m gonna let you spell your name. My name is T O N Y , Tony, Labillios, the last name is L A, B, I L L O I S if you type Tony Labillois Google or anywhere, you’ll likely find me and my email address or something to find me. And please reach out if you want to. It could be for statistics, it could be for accessibility disability, it could be for anything we’ve discussed today or more. If you see opportunities for us to collaborate, Michael or some of your listeners see other opportunities to collaborate with me or my organizations that I’m involved in. I would be very happy to explore possibilities again, in the same spirit that we talked about those doors and those opportunities and those ways to move forward. Thank you very much.
Michael Hingson ** 1:09:02
I really appreciate you being here. And I appreciate you listening to us out there. If you’d like to reach out to me, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Feel free to email me at Michael M I C H A E L H I at accessibe A C C E S S I B E .com. Or go to our podcast page www dot Michael hingson H i n g s o n.com/podcast. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Tony, if you or any of you listening might know of anyone else who want to be a guest on unstoppable mindset. I’d love to hear from you. We’re always looking for people who want to come on and tell their stories and talk about things like we did today. So please feel free. And wherever you’re listening, please give us a five star rating. We appreciate your ratings. We love those five star ratings and hope that you’ll continue to listen and support us with them and keep coming back and spending more time with us. So Tony more time I want to really thank you Thanks for being with us. And we got to do this again in the future.
Tony Labillois ** 1:10:05
It’s been a real pleasure Michael.
**Michael Hingson ** 1:10:12
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.