Accessibility is a huge issue around the world, even for Canada. A survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute, in partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation states that:
“Canadians identified massive gaps between current and ideal levels of accessibility within their communities, with the biggest barriers being access to recreational opportunities, transportation around the community and access to private businesses.” (Angus Reid Institute and Rick Hansen Foundation, 2015)
Ideally when new buildings are built they should be following building codes, and accessibility guidelines, but sometimes details are forgotten or incomplete. Making sure new buildings are ready to welcome all patrons, as well as retrofitting older infrastructure can make a huge difference in our communities. Other times, creating accessibility is as easy as offering to read a menu at a restaurant, or making sure walk-ways are clear. The Government of Canada is currently listening closely to accessibility needs as they consult the public for the Canadian Disabilities Act, and along with the provinces and territories have laws that make sure accessibility is a priority for our communities.
Here are some things that would increase accessibility in our communities:
- Providing closed captioning on videos and televisions
- Wide doorways
- Wide and clear hallways
- Ramps with a smooth incline – Companies go to the Stop Gap Foundation to have custom, portable, wooden ramps made. These ramps take down a huge barrier in allowing all customers the chance to get through the front door. Business improves when anyone can make a purchase. Learn more about the Stop Gap Foundation and their great work here stopgap.ca
- No lips or steps to get through doors or interior areas of the business space
- Wireless payment systems and other devices
- Lower countertop areas
- Accessible change rooms that are always available for those who need them
- Automatic doors
- Door handles instead of knobs
- Lower volume for ambiance music
- Accessible parking – large spaces with no curbs and extra no standing space.
- Accessible washrooms with accessible sink, and adult changing tables and a lift if possible
- Elevators/platform lifts
- Flooring material that is not slippery
- Salting/sanding during winter weather
- Adequate lighting
- Documents available in larger print and braille, or online with option to zoom in and out
Let us know the great accessibility features you’ve found in your city in the comments!