The Town of Collingwood is joining the nation this week in celebrating accessibility through the National AccessAbility week campaign from May 28 to June 3.
In the spirit of celebration, the Accessibility Advisory Committee, with the support of residents and local organizations including E3 Community Services and Breaking Down Barriers, will be sharing individual experiences through a Telling Our Stories initiative.
National AccessAbility Week will feature five different stories each with a focus on building awareness, breaking down assumptions and advocating for change. Stories will be featured at town hall and shared on www.collingwood.ca/
The videos on the town website feature stories about Michelle Bourgeois, an educator, activist and organizer in the American Sign Language (ASL) and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. She founded Hands On ASL, which offers ASL instruction in the GTA.
Accessibility advocate Ella Northcott wrote a piece about her own struggles and concerns as a person who uses a wheelchair for mobility. She argues accessibility is a right, not a privilege, and there are still obstacles preventing wheelchair users from experiencing everyday life.
Chantal Wolf shared a poem on the town website about what she calls "adventures" with Parkinson's Disease.
Also among the stories being celebrated this week is Casey's advocacy to help bring back accessible taxi service in Collingwood, and the E3 self-advocacy group that started in 2020 as a way to support people with disabilities to speak up for themselves and others.
“Storytelling is an incredible tool for bringing people together, inviting the community to think about accessibility, inclusion and the importance of building a community for all,” said the town's coordinator of community well-being and inclusion, Jennifer Parker, in a news release.
National AccessAbility Week was inspired by Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour and National Access Awareness Week founded in 1988. The week provides an opportunity to celebrate the contributions and leadership of Canadians with disabilities, highlight the work people, organizations and communities are undertaking to remove barriers and to promote accessibility and inclusion for all in our community, businesses, and institutions.
In Canada, 1 in 5, or 6.2 million people have a disability. We all benefit when we build a more accessible community that enables everyone to fully participate and contribute without barriers.
Barriers to accessibility can include:
- Negative attitudes or beliefs
- Organizational rules and practices that discriminate or leave people out
- Physical or structural features of a building or outdoor space
- Ways in which information is shared making it difficult to understand
- Technology including computers, websites, equipment that are difficult to use
The Town of Collingwood encourages residents to take time this week to learn more about accessibility. To learn more, visit www.collingwood.ca/
There will be a flag raising today (May 29) to mark National AccessAbility Week in Collingwood at 4 p.m. at the Collingwood Public Library.