Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Access is Everyone’s Business

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by Glenda at 9:00 am on Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Accessibility 100

With great anticipation, Accessibility 100 – a series of 100 easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities – launches today! Joining me for the kick off are Emese Szücs, Manager of Accessibility Programs, and Karen Thompson, Project Coordinator, from Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) to discuss the upcoming Access Awareness Day on Saturday, June 7th, and how access is everyone’s business.

Welcome Emese and Karen!

Please share a bit about SPARC BC and the work it does.

SPARC BC is a registered non-profit society and has been a leader in research, public education, and consulting regarding issues of accessibility, social justice and community development for 42 years. With over 14,000 diverse members, we see and hear about what is important to people in BC communities.

Since 1984, SPARC BC has been providing the Parking Permit Program for People with Disabilities, allowing over 97,000 people in BC to stay connected to their communities and arrive safely to their destinations. SPARC BC has been actively advocating for accessibility issues since the early 70’s.

Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia

One of SPARC BC’s many accessibility initiatives is its Annual Access Awareness Day. What is the purpose behind this annual campaign?

Access Awareness Day is a province wide campaign to increase knowledge around accessibility issues and promote access and inclusion in BC communities. This year marks the 11th access awareness day!

This year’s theme is “Access Is Everyone’s Business!” What is this campaign about?

Access Is Everyone’s Business is meant to empower businesses with knowledge about how they can make their businesses more welcoming to customers with disabilities. The objective of the campaign is to inform business owners of simple things they can do to improve the experience of their customers with disabilities.

This year we are proud to be partnering with TransLink, BC Transit, VanCity ABLED Program, Shoppers HomeHealthCare, and the Better Business Bureau’s of Mainland BC and Vancouver Island to deliver this campaign across all of BC.

Why are you targeting the business community this year?

Canadians with disabilities contribute $25 billion in purchasing power. Improving the accessibility of businesses makes good sense, for economic and social reasons, especially with the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics coming to BC. Accessible design is also appealing for all consumers because all of us benefit from accessible features such as clear aisles, legible signage, and easy-to-open doors.

How can businesses participate?

A good first step for businesses would be to visit the SPARC BC website and check out the Access Awareness Day materials.

As part of our materials, we are excited to share a great banner that also serves as an information piece. It is packed with tips on simple things that businesses can do to make accessible and welcoming environments for all customers, no matter their abilities.

Businesses can also contact SPARC BC at 604.718.7733 or info@sparc.bc.ca and ask for an Access Awareness Day promotional kit.

How can individuals participate?

Individuals can support Access Awareness Day through becoming a SPARC BC member, and by contacting us and asking for a free Access Awareness Day pin. Wear your pin and start spreading the word! Tell someone you know about our resources available on our website.

What are five tips you’re hoping businesses will take away from this event?

  1. A wheelchair needs at least 36” or 91.5 cm to get through aisles, doors and hallways.
  2. A gradual slope and handrails are important. 1” of rise needs a ramp that is at least 12” long.
  3. Lever or loop style door handles are easier for persons with limited hand dexterity or upper body strength to use.
  4. Signage with high contrast colours and large typefaces are easier to read.
  5. Greet customers and ask if they would like assistance.

Thanks Emese and Karen for joining me today to kick off Accessibility 100. Wishing you a successful Access Awareness Day on Saturday, June 7th. Access is everyone’s business!


Accessibility 100 is a series of 100 easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities. This is a community project. Feel free to leave your comments, questions and ideas for future Accessibility 100 posts.

Get the entire series by subscribing to this blog by filling in the form in the upper right corner or by subscribing to the RSS feed.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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9 Comments »

Comment by Susan Reynolds

May 13, 2008 @ 10:33 am

Bravo for this series!

I’d like to also draw your attention to people with disabilities which are not immediately visible. Some of us are able to walk but not long distances. And we are unable to stand for long.

Yet conference planners & people who put together meetings and such just assume that we can walk stairs (podcamp DC for example where elevators were not available to conference-goers) or walk three or four blocks from the initial lecture/ demo or meeting space to where the group is having dinner together.

It’s not mean spirited but it never crosses their mind that everyone can’t physically do what planners can. Is there parking at the door? Is there parking even half a block away? Sometimes having public transportation available is great if a.) we can get to transportation on our home end and b.) we don’t have to walk the length of two football fields at each end of the journey.

Someone stop me. My list of “please consider this:” is obviously long :)

Comment by Connie Reece

May 13, 2008 @ 12:09 pm

Congratulations on your new series, Glenda. Please educate us on the importance of accessibility whether it’s online or offline. I have to agree with Susan’s comment too. I’ve been to events lately where there were no elevators — how can that be in this day and age?

Comment by Glenda

May 13, 2008 @ 1:15 pm

Susan and Connie, I definitely appreciate your comments. Invisible disabilities are often overlooked in terms of accessibility. They are on my list to be covered during Accessibility 100!

Comment by Ruth Ellison

May 13, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

Congratulations on the start of a great series Glenda! I’ve been greatly anticipating this :)

I’m glad that you’re looking into invisible disabilities. They’re often overlooked!

Thanks Emese and Karen for the interesting information and tips.

Comment by AnneShirley Manion

May 13, 2008 @ 7:01 pm

You ladies have hit the nail on the head about the invisible disabilities. Most stores and malls don’t want seats because they don’t want loiterers, but many seniors like to shop and have money, but they also need to rest too. I have taken seniors on bus tours that are for seniors and then they had to walk a couple blocks to get to the place of entertainment or food. Sometimes there were steps and sometimes the chairs were so tight I could hardly fit into them. I also had this happen on a plane. I wonder what I would have done if I had been two inches wider?
Keep up the good work Glenda.

Comment by Glenda

May 13, 2008 @ 7:36 pm

Thanks Anneshirley, accessibility and seniors has been added to the list of post ideas!

Comment by Becky McCray

May 14, 2008 @ 9:19 pm

Huzzah, Glenda! 100 cheers for the Accessibility 100!

Comment by Tim Walker

May 16, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

More power to you, Glenda — with the Accessibility 100 project and with the rest of your good endeavors.

Since I write about business, I think about the further business implications of accessibility. Sure, retail stores, movie theaters, and the like should be accessible for customers with disabilities, but beyond that, companies have to make sure that they’re giving a warm welcome to potential great hires — regardless of those hires’ disabilities.

Diversity consultants will tell you in a heartbeat that there is tremendous talent available among every ethnic group — but you have to have your eyes open for it. Smart corporations have also worked hard to ensure that people of any sexual orientation feel comfortable. When people feel welcome, they feel free to do their best work. And corporations need that talent to compete.

Here’s hoping that the Accessibility 100 project and related efforts help companies at every scale of business understand how people with disabilities can contribute to their success, and how the companies in turn can contribute to those folks’ lives as “employers of choice”.

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