Community conversation about removing barriers

  • Aug. 5, 2015 5:12 p.m.

A local committee is seeking community input on the barriers that persons with disabilities face in the City and what efforts are being made to minimize those barriers.

The ‘Removing Barriers/International Day of Persons with Disabilities Planning Committee’ (RB/IDPD) is looking for public input so they can recognize the issues and supports in place in the community.

“This is about wanting to hear from persons who experience barriers in their lives. We want to be able to recognize and acknowledge those we are assisting and being mindful of removing those barriers,” said Twyla Joy Lapointe, chair of the RB/IDPD committee.

“Around the world, IDPD is a United Nations sanctioned day that is to highlight worldwide efforts in breaking physical, social, economical and attitudinal barriers that exclude persons with disabilities from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society.”

Lapointe said the committee wishes to hear from individuals, family members, friends and associates of those who experience barriers in everyday life from language to physical accessibility. She said with the acknowledgement of the barriers the committee is also seeking solutions to these issues.

She went on to provide some examples of the kinds of submissions the committee is looking for.

“We want to recognize those persons and organizations that are communicating in plain language so all may be able to understand. We want to recognize people who engage everyone in conversations. We’re also looking for groups that remove financial barriers, for example family rates for groups of friends, not just parents and a child,” she explained.

“As well, there are barriers with washrooms. A lot of people with disabilities plan their outings around washroom facilities. When people are designing, constructing or remodeling, a family washroom model might be something to adopt. Or it could be putting in support bars or things like that so that everyone can use the facility.

“We’d also like to recognize employers who are flexible with short shifts, split shifts – whatever is needed to accommodate employees with different needs.”

All submissions should be sent to barrierfree@outlook.com in the next few weeks so that the planning committee can put forth a submission for provincial recognition of those removing barriers.

All other groups and persons helping the cause will be recognized locally.

Lapointe also included the following categories that could be included in groups or persons helping to remove barriers: neighbours clearing snow in winter, homebuilders and architects that recognize wheelchair accessibility and ground-level entry and even grocers and stores that maintain an easy flow for shoppers.

“We also want to recognize teachers and professors who allow recording devices and other aids in classrooms. This is needed for persons with epilepsy and different styles of learning. If they could record discussion, they can learn at their own pace and style,” she said.

“We just want to be able to say thank you and do that in a style that’s acceptable to those people or businesses. We want to send a bouquet if that’s what they want, or a public recognition. We want to be mindful of how they wish to be acknowledged,” Lapointe added.

“There are provincial awards as well that we may submit too, and if our region is successful, we would have a representative from the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities to present those awards.”

kmendonsa@reddeerexpress.com

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