New funding boosts accessibility in B.C. communities
Thirty sites in eight municipalities and two Indigenous communities are receiving grants through the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) to support the creation of more welcoming, inclusive places for people living with disabilities.
The province provided $2.5 million for the grants, which will also be used to expand the Accessibility Professional Network across the province and increase use of the RHF Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) rating.
“When accessibility is integrated into the places where we live, work and play, it does more than remove physical barriers, it creates a welcome and accessible environment for everyone,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “With this funding, we are excited to see more communities get the chance to make the physical changes that will spark attitudinal changes needed to make every space welcoming to people with disabilities.”
To qualify for as much as $27,500 per project, municipalities must apply for and receive an RHFAC rating. Grants will support physical improvements to areas such as entranceways, vehicle access, emergency systems and signage. Successful projects will receive an updated RHFAC rating showing how the space better meets the needs of people with disabilities and a plaque noting the new accessibility certification.
“As government works on developing accessibility standards, it’s crucial that we support those organizations that want to lead the way in becoming more accessible,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “This funding will help build a more inclusive, accessible B.C.”
The RHFAC measures the accessibility of buildings and sites using a holistic approach that considers the user experience of people with mobility, vision and hearing disabilities. After receiving the RHFAC rating, a site can be labelled RHF Accessibility Certified or RHF Accessibility Certified Gold.
“The Government of British Columbia continues to demonstrate its dedication to creating an accessible and inclusive province,” said Rick Hansen, founder, Rick Hansen Foundation. “Supporting B.C. municipalities to identify and remove barriers to accessibility for the growing number of British Columbians living with a disability, as well as their friends, caregivers and loved ones, is of critical importance. When we create accessible communities, we create a society where everyone can participate, contribute and thrive. I hope others will follow this government’s leadership and continue to create the provinces, country and world we all deserve.”
More than 926,000 people in B.C. live with disabilities. Identifying, removing and preventing barriers to accessibility supports an inclusive society where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
- Since RHFAC’s launch in 2017, more than 1,600 sites have received ratings across Canada.
- 1,260 of these sites are in B.C., of which 1,100 were funded by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.
- The RHF also provides training for architects, designers, engineers, public-policy leaders and other professionals at post-secondary institutions across the country that results in an RHFAC professional designation.
- The Accessibility Professional Network brings together RHFAC professionals and accessibility champions to collaborate, network, provide professional training and share best practices.
The RHFAC program: https://www.rickhansen.com/RHFAC
Accessibility in B.C.: http://gov.bc.ca/accessibility
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