People with disabilities want access to the outdoors like everyone else, said Heather Lamb, information resource specialist with Spinal Cord Injury BC in Prince George.
“It is important to create communities that meet everyone’s needs,” Lamb told delegates during the North Central Local Government Association Convention in Williams Lake, noting Spinal Cord Injury BC began seeing a trend about a decade ago of people with disabilities inquiring about what communities had accessible amenities.
An audit was done about 400 parks and spaces and Access BC is currently working with a number of organizations on developing more accessible amenities.
Universal Design is a concept that goes beyond basic access, Lamb explained, adding it is important to plan for including everyone ahead of time.
“Planning is seamless, it is from the ground up, and involves sustainable designing. We still have a long way to go.”
Encouraging communities to look at what they can do she outlined where to start.
Things to consider include parking and transportation opportunities, access routes, accessible toilets, the ability to see or experience the attractions that bring other visitors to a site and access to information about the site and to the available services.
“People with disabilities normally plan ahead so having information available is helpful,” Lamb said.
What do a country music lover, a hair dye enthusiast and an adaptive adventurer have in common? They're SCI BC staff and running/wheeling 5k in support of people with #SCI! Head to https://t.co/Dimh0QTdqg to donate to these and others in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge! pic.twitter.com/llfzaXufoe
— Spinal Cord InjuryBC (@SCI_BC) May 10, 2019
She also warned that unsafe conditions and lack of maintenance can also create hazards.
“If we can include that perspective, then people with disabilities can plan ahead.”
She shared a video from the Access North Initiative: Universal Design and Accessible Outdoors that was appreciated by the delegates.