Accessible, inclusive communities for people with disabilities are the main goals behind two provincially funded programs designed to improve universal access in British Columbia.
Through $9 million in provincial funding, the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) has launched two new programs to improve accessibility for British Columbians.
“When we remove the physical barriers, we create communities where everyone feels welcome. We are pleased to support the Rick Hansen Foundation with this initiative where together we can build a better B.C. for people of all abilities to be able to live, work and play,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.
With the provincial funding, the Rick Hansen Foundation has developed the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) and the BC Accessibility Grants Program. RHFAC is a LEED-style system to rate accessibility for retail, commercial, institutional and multi-family residential buildings. Provincial funding is enabling approximately 1,100 free accessibility ratings within British Columbia, until March 2019.
Once rated, organizations will be eligible to apply for B.C. accessibility grants of up to $20,000 to use toward accessibility improvements, such as ramps, automatic doors, and visual and audio emergency warning systems. All projects will provide people with disabilities increased access and opportunities related to workspaces, health and fitness, arts and culture, and education. The upcoming round of B.C. accessibility grant applications must be submitted by Feb. 1, 2018.
“Cities today must anticipate the needs of citizens of all ages, life stages and abilities, including children, parents, older adults, and seniors. The RHF Accessibility Certification and B.C. Accessibility Grants Program will help organizations create accessible communities of the future,” said Brad McCannell, vice-president, access and inclusion, Rick Hansen Foundation.
Twelve accessibility assessors have completed training and are ready to conduct ratings. British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) is an early adopter of the program, recognizing the benefits to making the campus accessible.
“BCIT is committed to ensuring our campuses are accessible and inclusive for everyone. As we embark on the renewal of our Burnaby campus, we are excited to participate in the innovative Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program,” said Kathy Kinloch, BCIT president.
Building owners and managers can learn more and book a rating through the Rick Hansen Foundation website: www.RickHansen.com/RHFAC
To learn more about accessibility in B.C., visit: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility
To learn more about the RHF Accessibility Certification, visit: https://www.rickhansen.com/Our-Work/Accessibility-Certification-Program