Accessing the ability of all Canadians image

Canada is inadequately addressing the barriers to accessibility. - 123RF

You walk to into the office, juggling a cup of coffee in one hand and your laptop in the other, rushing to your desk where your phone is ringing. This may seem like a typical hectic day at the office for you, but for countless Canadian adults with a physical disability, this would be an impossible day. The environment your business creates has the potential to either access the full ability of your employees or create additional barriers for them.

Canada is inadequately addressing the barriers to accessibility that nearly four million Canadians with a mobility, vision or hearing disability face daily. A barrier-free environment not only betters the quality of life for persons with disabilities, but also dramatically increases labour force participation and consumer spending within our economy. Our members have vocalized finding and retaining skilled staff among their top issues, yet there is an entire pool of educated and qualified Canadians with disabilities who are waiting to be hired.

Our headquarters were built to respect the design priorities reflected in the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility CertificationTM (RHFAC) program and earned official certification last fall. The RHFAC program provides a road map for the adoption of meaningful access and universal design principles, as well as a way for all levels of governments to work together to improve the built environment. We recently made additional improvements by installing 12 automatic door openers throughout our headquarters to eliminate barriers to accessibility in our working and collaborative spaces. This was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund.

But the responsibility for the built environment cannot fall solely on the government. Businesses must lead the way in improving accessibility in their workplaces. We encourage our members to apply for Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification. It is time businesses access the ability of all Canadians by building a more accessible nation!

For more information about the having your office or building rated by the Rick Hansen Foundation, visit www.rickhansen.com/become-accessible.

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