Leaving No One Behind
National AccessAbility Week May 30 – June 5
Don Epp, SARC Facility Planner
The Government of Canada has declared the last week in May (starting with the last Sunday in May) National AccessAbility Week. The goal is to promote accessibility and inclusion across our country and through our communities. “We all benefit from a society and an economy without barriers to inclusion. When persons with disabilities can participate in all aspects of society, including accessing employment, resources and services, it enriches Canada’s economy”. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/campaigns/national-accessability-week.html
Accessibility and inclusion are important actions in the disability service sector and this year’s theme is “leaving no one behind”.
How do SARC Members Play a Part
For SARC’s Members, the idea of “leaving no one behind”, or including everyone, is a cornerstone of service and often entrenched in vision and mission statements. Empowering people to meet their full potential is a common thread among Members that reinforces the idea of “leaving no one behind”. SARC Members go to great lengths to make sure that everyone they support can access the opportunities they choose, and they train their staff in the principles of inclusion and person-centred service (for information on SARC’s related training programs, visit SARC Learning Central). SARC Members also ensure that their clients can live comfortably in their homes. While working as a Facility Planner with SARC and collaborating on design ideas with Member Managers, I have seen the importance and benefit of creating accessible and inclusive spaces in buildings.
Day Program Buildings and Homes are Becoming More Accessible.
For the past 5 years, the Ministry of Social Services has awarded capital grant funding to improve Day Program buildings. Every project that has received this funding, as well as many self-funded projects, has improved accessibility in their buildings as a result. Among many other improvements, improving bathroom accessibility has been the most common upgrade to accessibility design; separate personal care rooms are often created to increase capacity and support those with the most need. Additionally, wheelchair-accessible workstations in kitchens, noise reducing wall panels, appropriate task lighting, and accessible furniture all make Day Program buildings inclusive buildings. The goal is that the space works for everyone.
Inclusion involves transportation
When we think about accessibility, inclusion, and leaving no one behind, it might seem simplistic to talk about accessible transportation. Yes, it’s true that accessible transportation is a simple concept – it is fundamental to accessibility, but this province simply does not have enough of it. Travelling to work or to recreational/volunteer activities is only possible with vehicles with accessibility features, and Members do a significant amount of fundraising in order to provide transportation services that work for everyone they support Members also modify their buildings to make sure that pick-up and drop-off zones are safe and sheltered from the elements. SARC Members are always finding ways to remove barriers in order to provide the best possible service.
Group homes are also designed with safety and accessibility as the main priority. Fire sprinklers are a common feature in most group homes, as are wheelchair ramps, ceiling tracks and lifts, wide hallways and doors, and accessible bathrooms and tub rooms that ensure people experiencing disability are able to age in place.
What’s Next for Accessibility in SK
SARC Members strive to be leaders in their community to identify and eliminate barriers to inclusion. Much effort and hard work has been exerted over the past 5 decades to improve accessibility and inclusion. Currently, the Saskatchewan Government is creating new accessibility legislation with the goal of becoming a more inclusive province. SARC and SARC Members participated in the first round of public consultation toward its development and look forward to additional opportunities to help pave the way towards a more inclusive society where no one is left behind.
For information on how to improve accessibility in your CLSD funded building please contact Don Epp, Facility Planner SARC.