In honour of International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021, I can’t believe it’s been forty-six years since my injury, thirty-four years since Rick Hansen completed his history making – the Man in Motion World Tour. Thirty-one years since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in the US., and twenty-nine years that the United Nations first recognized the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
Following the above dates, there is growing recognition today of the barriers and needs of persons with various disabilities and mobility challenges. This change in attitude has had a considerable influence on construction and the built environment. So as I look back over the past decades with great pride at the progress made by CASS, along with our employer, community, civic and government partners, CASS has done a great deal of work in promoting inclusive, barrier-free, and universally designed environments.
In 2017, one in five (22%) of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over – or about 6.2 million individuals – had one or more disabilities. With these statistics, CASS is continuously called upon to respond to changing needs in the community, with an increasing number looking to us for direction and guidance, concerning the accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities.
These best practices of community inclusion are accomplished through barrier-free designs and the principles of visitability which allows all persons, with or without a disability, young and old, to approach, enter, move freely, independently, safely, conveniently, and with dignity within them.
Our activities have brought advantages and opportunities to many individuals and groups, children, older persons, mothers with strollers, people looking for and finding work, companies building and/or renovating their premises, people gaining access to facilities, not only those with disabilities and/or other related mobility, sensory, cognitive challenges, just to name a few.
We have provided many opportunities to host and provide professional development training, and information sessions on building disability confidence with a diverse group of employers. We continue to encourage open conversations, and inclusive attitudes that remove barriers for people with disabilities to make valuable contributions to our community and society.
So with each year that we celebrate IDPD, many more facilities, services, and companies are making progress in meeting the needs of persons with disabilities. However, more work and ideas are required. Consequently, ongoing education is critical in order to effectively discuss the concepts and philosophies of community inclusion, diversity and accessibility. Keep up the good work!!
Diversity and Accessibility Consultant