Moving Forward Together
National AccessAbility Week (#NAAW2022), May 29 to June 4, 2022
The theme for National AccessAbility Week is “moving forward together”. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of Canadians experiencing disability and promote efforts to increase accessibility and inclusion in Canada. Learn more about National AccessAbility Week.
While we still have a long way to go to realize a country or province without barriers for people of all abilities, I hope you will be able to celebrate with us how far we’ve come to be more inclusive.
SARC Members strive to inspire creative change in their neighbourhoods, communities, and province, where we continue to help create inclusive communities for everyone everywhere.
How can we make a difference?
Changing a country like Canada, to become more inclusive and accessible seems like a daunting task. Like all large goals, it can seem easier to break them down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Your own backyard or neighbourhood is a good place to begin with by improving accessibility.
A good example of this would be the work accomplished by last year’s SARC Awards recipient, Lenny Smart. His advocacy led to more curb cuts installed near his workplace. He was able to work with the City of Saskatoon to identify where repairs to the sidewalks were needed and to determine the best locations to install curb cuts. Identifying barriers and insisting on solutions was how Lenny made a difference. Often people don’t know there is an accessibility barrier until it’s identified. Check out the amazing video of Lenny and his work in receiving the Good Neighbour Award (2021).
SARC Members provide accessible solutions in our communities
Accessibility and inclusion make for better communities. SARC Member Agencies have made a difference in their communities by working towards accessibility improvements. Communities have benefitted from having lifts installed in their local swimming pool and by adding family and accessible change rooms and washrooms. It’s common to see neighbourhood parks install accessible playground equipment. Thanks to a SARC Member Agency, a wheelchair swing was provided in one of these parks. As a result of these small implementations, people experiencing disability can be supported to use their community’s amenities.
Accessible transportation buses are a shared service with some SARC Members in their community and through the work, advocacy, and collaboration with community partners, SARC Members continue to remove barriers within their communities. The whole Town benefits when a wheelchair-accessible bus can serve people supported at a SARC Member facility and serve people in the entire community. More people are participating in the life of their community. Identifying barriers and working together for accessible solutions is something that SARC Members do to make their communities better. Check out the article from Pipestone KinAbility in the Winter 2022 SARC Update on the work they did in Moosomin to get a wheelchair-accessible swing added to their playground.
How SARC, SARC Members, and the Government of Saskatchewan work toward accessibility
As a provincial association, SARC and our Members have the opportunity to influence provincial policies, as we are seen by the provincial government as a stakeholder in provincial discussions involving accessibility and inclusion. Throughout the recently proposed accessibility legislation, comments and suggestions were provided by SARC to the Government of Saskatchewan as well as by SARC Members. SARCalso had the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions on the new Construction Code Act in order to improve accessibility in the built environment for people of all abilities. Advocating for accessibility and inclusion on a provincial scale helps build a better province.
Recently, the Saskatchewan Legislative Building received a Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification to become the first and only Legislative Building in Canada to receive this distinction. The Rick Hansen Foundation provides standards for accessibility that address
es the accessibility needs of people of varying abilities. Certification is awarded to buildings that go beyond the minimum standards found in building codes and meets or exceeds the standards established by the Rick Hansen Foundation. For example, Saskatchewan is demonstrating to the rest of Canada that accessibility and inclusion are important priorities. https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2021/may/10/saskatchewans-legislative-building-receives-rick-hansen-foundation-accessibility-certification https://www.rickhansen.com/
What else can be done
By identifying barriers and moving forward together to find solutions, the goal of an accessible province can be realized. Advocating for more curb cuts, collaborating with community partners, or participating in provincial forums and discussions can all lead to a better community, province and country. We have come a long way and there is more to do. It all starts with small changes that make big differences in someone’s life. Something to celebrate.