The following is a snapshot of some of the highlights of the Society of Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods. If you would like more information about any of the following or if you are interested in our services please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 604.437.7331
Disability Awareness Video
Presentations and Speaking Engagements
CAN has done created and/or performed accessibility audits of different scales for many different organizations, companies, cities, housing developments, and individuals.
Here are examples of some of our projects:
Over the years CAN has participated in many accessibility audits for TransLink. We have audited the accessibility of bus loops, bus stops, and routes to and from bus stops. We have also audited the vehicles used by Coast Mountain Bus Company. CAN continues to have a good working relationship with TransLink.
2010 Legacies Now
Onsite inspections of businesses throughout Vancouver using 2010 Legacies Now's criteria for accessibility.
CAN Hired as Consultant for the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Global Accessibility Initiative
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods was hired to create an accessibility checklist, to test the checklist, and to help create a form to be used on the website’s map for the Rick Hansen Foundation Global Accessibility Initiative.
CAN was asked to assess the accessibility of all Drop-off Zones and Entrances/Exits at YVR (the Vancouver Airport) in preparation of the 2010 Olympics/Paralympics.
CAN was part of a group brought together by Legacies 2010 to assess the accessibility of four Olympic/Paralympic venues for VANOC. The four venues were: Richmond Oval, BC Place Stadium, Cypress Mountain, and the UBC Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Arena.
Answering Emails from Throughout North America
CAN is often contacted by developers, people in construction, and people in planning with questions regarding accessibility. We offer guidance on where they can find information for their area, how to find out what the local bylaws are, and we share information about what “accessible” or “inclusive” means. We have helped individuals redoing bathrooms or basements as well as people who are creating a housing complex who require information about entrances, units, etc. We have also assisted several hotels with questions about what makes a room “accessible”.
City of Burnaby (Metrotown Library)
CAN did an accessibility assessment of the Bob Prittie (Metrotown) Library. We applaud the library for looking for ways to improve the library experience. We were also quite pleased that during the tour certain accessibility issues, such as locations of signage, were fixed immediately. Following our assessment the library secured funding for better signage and has since installed the signage, to great effect.
In addition to delivering a Disability Awareness Seminar at The Arbutus Club we were asked to do a walk through of the property and to make suggestions on how staff can answer questions about the accessibility of the club. We prepared a guide book for front line staff on the proper terminology and on how to interact with people of multiple disabilities as well as highlighting to them the accessibility features of the club and what might be problematic. We also made suggestions such as having a map available for people with cognitive or memory impairments who might get confused in the very large club.
City of Burnaby
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods has participated in two community accessibility projects spearheaded by the City of Burnaby.
CAN supports, promotes, and educates about Adaptive Sport and Recreation.
Here are some examples of our involvement with Adaptive Sport and Recreation:
CAN Creates an Adaptive Sport and Recreation Page for BC
CAN created an Adaptive Sport and Recreation Page for BC which is a one stop site for people interested in learning about adaptive sport and recreation programs and the organizations that run the programs. The listings are organized by three categories: Name, Location, and Type of Sport or Recreation. We also have a category for Other Relevant Organizations such as Tetra which is an organization that can help to create adaptive sport equipment. We currently have over 100 listings for more than 60 sports across 73 communities in BC. We continue our effort to make this as complete a list as possible; if you know of any sport or recreation program not currently on our site please let us know so that we can add it to the list by contacting us at email@example.com or 604.437.7331
CAN Connects Athletes to Sport and Recreation Organizations
CAN is often contacted by people with disabilities, family and/or friends of people with disabilities or people who work with those with disabilities who want more information about what sport and recreation activities are available. Oftentimes people have come to CAN after having been frustrated in trying many other sources and we are always pleased to let them know about opportunities in their area as well as put them in touch with the right organization or person.
CAN Connects Volunteers to Sport and Recreation Organizations
CAN’s website has acted as a conduit for connecting volunteers with adaptive sport and recreation organizations in two ways:
The first is through our Adaptive Sport and Recreation Page. We have been contacted by volunteers who were glad to find the database as they had been wanting for volunteer in the adaptive sport and recreation field but did not know where to start their search. They commented that they enjoyed the ability to look through the various options, both locations and activities, and decide which they wanted to try first.
Secondly, we have been contacted by many individuals who said that they wanted to volunteer for sport and recreation organizations that worked with people with disabilities but they were nervous about the terminology and so they put off contacting the organizations because they didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot by saying the wrong thing. They then discovered CAN’s website and watched our disability awareness video which made them more confident in contacting an organization. As we say in the video “intention rules” so be aware that it is understandable if a person who does not have a disability is unaware of the current terminology but as long as their intention is good (and volunteering is definitely a sign of good intentions) then words are usually not an issue.
CAN Participates at the West Vancouver Paralympic Celebration Display
During the Olympics the West Vancouver Community Centre held “Preceding Paralympic Celebration: Paralympics in the Atrium”. CAN had a display for our Adaptive Sports Page with members available to answer questions. The event included a display of adaptive sport equipment such as a sit-ski, sledge hockey sled, and the Trail Runner (used for hiking). The display gave school groups and the general public the chance to meet local athletes with a disability and listen to their stories. The display was such a success that it was extended two weeks to run during the Paralympics as well as preceding them.
CAN ED Delivers Athlete Talks at West Vancouver Paralympic Celebration
In addition to the display that CAN had at the West Vancouver Paralympic Celebration Heather McCain, CAN’s ED, gave several talks to groups of schoolchildren as well as the general public about her experience competing in provincial level adaptive athletics with Boccia. The interest in adaptive sports and the questions from the audiences were great and the enthusiasm in West Vancouver for the 2010 Paralympics was palpable.
CAN Executive Director Participates in the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay
The BC Disability Games Society nominated Heather McCain, CAN’s Executive Director, to be a Torch Bearer in the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay for her work within the adaptive sports and recreation field. Heather, working as ED for CAN, has worked to promote adaptive sport and recreation and to ensure anyone with a disability is aware of the available options. Heather is very touched to have been chosen by the BC Disability Game Society of which CAN is a proud Partner Member.
CAN Tours Schools and Extended Care Facility with Paralympic Torch to Promote Adaptive Sport and Recreation
CAN toured schools in Vancouver and Maple Ridge to display the Paralympic Torch and to speak about adaptive sport and recreation opportunities. The reception to the Paralympics and the torch itself has been amazing and CAN was proud to bring the torch to those who were not able to get out to see the relay or sport events. At each event the participants were eager and excited to be able to hold the torch and have their photograph taken. The level of pride and interest in adaptive sport and recreation was heartening to see. We have a new generation of schoolchildren who take it for granted that a person with a disability can still be involved in sports which is a great yardstick for how far we as a society have come in understanding that disability does exclude someone from sport or recreation.
CAN Encourages the Promotion of New Sports at BC Disability Games
CAN worked with BC Disability Sports to add new sports and athletes to the 2009 Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows BC Disability Games. CAN is often contacted by people looking for adaptive sports as well as people who run adaptive sports programs looking for ways to advertise their organization and to find interested athletes. CAN utilized our contact list and we were able to facilitate the addition of several new sports to the games as well as dozens of new athletes.
CAN’s Participation at the BC Disability Games
CAN has had representatives (athletes, volunteers, board members) at each of the last three BC Disability Games Society. Our ED has also been a board member of the BC Disability Society.
CAN ED Teaches Disability Awareness Training for the Various Directorates of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows BC Disability Games
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods Executive Director created a Disability Awareness Quiz for the Directors and Chairs of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows BC Disability Games. In addition to the quiz, Heather taught 10 Tips on Interacting with People with Disabilities and Proper/Improper Terms.The disability awareness sessions were well attended and very effective. Many of the volunteers spoke of experiences during the games, with the athletes, in which what was taught was used. Those who applied the training to the games experience came away with a more comfortable, at ease, experience and passed on the lessons to other people within their life.
CAN’s Disability Awareness Training from Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows BC Disability Games Made Into Videos To Be Used at Future Games
BC Disability Games Society received positive feedback regarding the Disability Awareness Training that was taught to the Directors, Chairs, and volunteers at the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows BC Disability Games by the Executive Director of Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods. We were asked to partner with BC Disability Games Society to create two short videos that could be used at future Games; these include the BC Seniors’ Games, the BC Northern Games, the BC Summer Games, and the BC Winter Games. CAN was thrilled to participate in this project to ensure that volunteers receive this Disability Awareness Training as well as to have this information readily available on our website.
CAN Members Volunteer for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows BC Disability Games
Citizen’s for Accessible Neighbourhoods Executive Director was asked to volunteer as the Chair of Athletes with a Disability for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows BC Disability Games. Heather's role was to assess accessibility issues at all venues, ensure that images, messages, and media include athletes with a disability and appropriate language, determine requirements for interpreters, provide disability awareness sessions for all volunteers, and act as a resource for any questions regarding the needs of athletes with a disability.
In addition to Heather’s role we had numerous other CAN members present at, and volunteering for, the disability games, including Joanne and Dan Olson, founding members of CAN, who were volunteers in the photography department. Joanne was in charge of organizing the volunteers for photography and ensuring that all photographs were uploaded to the games website in a quick manner thus enabling the athletes to access photos of themselves and fellow competitors. Other members of CAN volunteered in transportation, promotion, advertising, and information.
CAN Made a Partner Member of BC Disability Games Society
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods is proud to be a Partner Member of BC Disability Sports.
BC Disability Games Society Requests Report from CAN on Powell River Games
CAN was asked to write a report for Maple Ridge regarding the games in Powell River. The report was completed and included an overview of the event as well as feedback highlighting various aspects of the games including specific sporting events, accommodation, venues, and special events. We included suggestions and recommendations for the 2009 Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows BC Disability Games.
CAN Receives Funding for Power Soccer Team in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows
CAN has often heard that for those living in the outer-lying areas of Vancouver there is a lack of available sport and recreation opportunities. While headquartered in Maple Ridge CAN applied for, and received, funding for a Power Soccer team. The team, which the athletes dubbed The Ridge Rockets, was coached and run by CAN volunteers.
CAN is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities and those within their support systems. Our advocacy work can be for, or with, organizations, businesses and cities or individuals. Within our advocacy work we strive to improve accessibility, to educate about people with disabilities and our needs, and to promote the understanding that we will all need universal access at some point in our lives. CAN has developed a great reputation for being an organization that advocates on behalf of people with disabilities as well as for our approach of seeing the issue from all perspectives and working to come to a solution that benefits all parties.
Here are just a few examples of our advocacy work:
CAN Advocates to ensure that the George Pearson Centre was not rebuilt as an institution
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods was one organization, of twenty, who advocated on behalf of people with disabilities to ensure that the George Pearson Centre was not rebuilt as an institution. CAN added the voice of our organization to the fight to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are protected, and that they are provided the support needed to live full lives.
Thankfully, those on the Vancouver city council listened, and approved a revised policy that included a commitment to follow the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This commitment will ensure that people with disabilities have the following:
The same range of choices as other people, including the right to choose where & how to live & with whom
Autonomy, choice and control over our daily lives
Full support to live in the community without segregation or isolation
Persons with severe disabilities or who need high levels of support have the same rights
We also received an acknowledgement by Vancouver Coastal Health that independent community living is best practice, and a commitment that all of the housing and support options in the redevelopment for persons with disabilities will be independent community living, and a commitment that no institution will be built for persons with disabilities on this site, and that no person currently at Pearson will be transferred to another institution/facility unless that is their choice.
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods is proud to have been part of deferring one of the largest developments in Vancouver because it violated the rights of people with disabilities. We are also extremely proud to have been part of the group pressuring Vancouver city council to revise their plan, so that the needs and concerns of people with disabilities could be met. We are satisfied with the revised proposal, and we look forward to a future where institutions are not the go-to for cities, when housing people with disabilities. We look forward to continuing our work in encouraging full, productive, lives, for people with disabilities, in their community.
CAN Advocates on Behalf of Consumers with Access Issues to Victoria Drive Value Village
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods was contacted by several people who shop at the Value Village on Victoria Drive in Vancouver. Recently the Value Village had done an upgrade to their store. They added accessible doors at the entrance, doors that opened upon sensing someone near the door. This was a great addition to the accessibility of the store. Unfortunately, they also installed stanchions inside the store to block people from leaving the store with the shopping carts. These three stanchions were lined up with a very small space between them. The space was too small for many people with walkers and wheelchairs to get through. The middle stanchion was removable if a person had the requisite strength. It was extremely difficult for people in wheelchairs to remove this stanchion as one had to lift it upwards, which is difficult, if not impossible, from a sitting position. This meant that the person had to get someone to lift it for them, either another shopper or a staff member. This required that they wait, blocked by the stanchions, until someone came along who would lift it for them or get a staff member to do so. There was a lot of frustration at not being able to enter their Value Village independently. For some, it was humiliating to have to ask for help from strangers, especially as not every stranger obliged. And, in some cases, the staff members asked to help were not happy to be pulled from their tills. In addition, this process was repeated when the person needed to exit the store.
On behalf of CAN, I contacted Value Village to explain the experience of these shoppers. To the credit of Value Village they had the stanchions removed within two business days. They understood the frustration of their customers, and were sorry that they had had such bad experiences, and they agreed that all their customers should be able to enter and exit the store without assistance. They explained that there is a lot of theft of shopping carts and the stanchions were their way of curbing these thefts. They understood this was not an acceptable solution so completely removed the stanchions, as they searched for a better way to protect the carts from leaving the store. We would like to thank Value Village for their swift response, and their understanding the situation.
CAN Advocates against Cancellation of Proposed Change to Bus Route in the Champlain Area of Vancouver
TransLink has proposed several changes to bus routes throughout the Lower Mainland. One proposed change would affect the residents in the Champlain neighbourhood of Vancouver. TransLink proposed to cut service to the “diversion” as they called it, on the 49 route. The diversion is made up of Kerr, 54th Avenue, and Tyne. These three streets have a total of fourteen stops. These stops are used on a regular basis by the residents in this neighbourhood. TransLink proposed that by bypassing this neighbourhood they would save 4-5 minutes on the 49, save $500,000 a year, be able to add an extra 1.6 buses a day to the route, and have the bus route more understandable as it would stay on the 49. TransLink contended that the residents could walk to 49th Avenue to catch the 49, an additional walk of 600 metres.
Champlain has the highest percentage of seniors in Vancouver. It also has a lot of families with small children too big for strollers but much too small to walk an additional 600 metres. It also is a neighbourhood very popular with people with disabilities, many who are completely unable to walk the suggested 600 metres. In addition, the neighbourhood has a lot of low-income people who do not have any other transportation options.
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods was apprised of the proposal and sprung into action. TransLink had been holding open houses but very few people in the neighbourhood had heard of the proposed change or the open houses. TransLink had put an advertisement in the Vancouver Courier as well as on social media. Many people in this area do not use social media or receive the Courier.
Due to our long-standing relationship with TransLink, we were able to talk to the person in charge of the community relations for these proposals. We decided to set up an open house at a co-op hall within the area. In the three weeks leading up to the open house CAN papered the fourteen bus stops, that would be affected by the change, with flyers explaining how residents could contribute their opinions by email or an online survey. We also provided our assistance if they did not have access to the internet. We also gave details about the proposal as well as the open house. For three weeks we fielded phone calls and emails from concerned residents who were appalled by the suggestion of cutting service to the neighbourhood.
The open house was a huge success. We had over 150 people show up to voice their concern about the proposed cut. We had more people in attendance at our one open house than TransLink had at all their previous open houses combined. In addition to the great attendance we presented TransLink with a petition with over 500 signatures of people unable to make the open house who wanted to share their outrage at the suggestion of cutting off service to an entire community.
The Vancouver Courier ran an article on February 26th, 2014 in their paper, on the front page of the Seniors section, about the proposed change. Councillor Geoff Meggs from the Vancouver council has become involved and is supporting CAN, and the residents, in their fight to keep service. Champlain Square, a mall that is the lifeblood of the Champlain community, was apprised of the situation by CAN and has since written a letter expressing their opposition to the proposed change.
CAN proved that the community was capable of mobilizing, of coming together to save something that means a lot to the community. Even people who don’t use transit supported the opposition of the change because they knew how it would negatively affect their neighbours. CAN would like to thank the many people in the community who helped us, including the people who took the petition around the community and the woman who translated our poster into Chinese.
TransLink will make their decision in mid-April, 2014. Until then we are satisfied that we have done everything we can to save this route.
CAN Promotes and Educates About Universal Design
There are many ways that CAN promotes and educates about Universal Design. CAN delivers presentations that are strongly imaged-based to demonstrate what is meant by Universal Design. CAN also answers individual emails regarding questions about Universal Design, what it is, how to implement or encourage it, and why it is needed. We have also used the media as a tool to get the message out but our main focus is getting out and talking with people whether it be accessibility committees, politicians, planners, decision makers, developers, municipalities, and/or businesses.
CAN Advocates By Raising Awareness Through the Media
CAN is well aware that having a media presence is an important part of advocacy work. We have had a presence in news stories in newspapers (Vancouver Sun, The Province), TV news (BCTV, CTV, Global, Omni), and radio (CBC) regarding accessibility and inclusive design. CAN has used the print media multiple times to bring attention to issues that affect people with disabilities. We have also been on CBC radio several times to promote the need for accessibility. We have also been featured in stories on local news shows mainly regarding accessibility on the transportation system. A large part of advocacy is making others aware of the issues so that they can join their voices with ours to create positive change.
CAN is a Devoted Advocate for Inclusive Transportation
Members of CAN, as well as our ED, have worked with TransLink in an advocate/consultation role for eight years. CAN’s ED served two terms on TransLink’s Users’ Advisory Committee, serving as Vice-Chair for five years and Chair for one year, acting as an advocate for people of all disabilities as well as for people who use strollers. In addition we have done separate consultations, accessibility assessments, and site visits for TransLink.
CAN Advocates for Accessibility in Municipalities Throughout the Lower Mainland
CAN has worked with politicians, planners, and staff in several municipalities throughout the Lower Mainland. We have given presentations that educate and enlighten; we have worked one on one with planners on specific projects; we have advocated directly to politicians for better awareness about the need for Universal Design; and we have worked within focus groups and regional growth strategy forums on projects that affect the municipalities.
CAN Facilitates Discussions Between Transit Users TransLink/Municipalities
In addition to working with TransLink on projects that they bring to us CAN acts as a facilitator for individuals experiencing issues with the transit system by bringing their concerns to TransLink and working with them to find a solution. CAN has done this on many occasions, here are but three examples of situations in which we advocated for individuals who contacted us:
- When CAN first started there were a lot of issues regarding malfunctioning ramps in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows area. Transit users were being left behind at stops. CAN acted as a facilitator and spoke on behalf of the very frustrated users and we were able to receive assurance from TransLink that they had a policy that stated if a ramp was malfunctioning and another bus would not be along in a reasonable amount of time the bus driver was to call for an accessible taxi. As we know not every person gets the same information we asked for the policy in writing so that transit users could keep a copy with them in case the bus driver was not informed, TransLink agreed and we were able to help the many people who had been left behind all too often.
- People who use the transit system are only allowed to board and disembark at bus stops that are designated as accessible. CAN has worked hard to communicate this to transit users who were unaware of this and who wondered why they were being left behind at bus stops. We also facilitated conversations between transit users and TransLink and encouraged TransLink to educate their bus drivers about the accessibility of the system, which they did. We also facilitated conversations between individuals desiring improvements to their bus stop to make them designated as accessible and TransLink and the municipality who share the cost of the improvements. We also communicated quite regularly with municipal staff to encourage them to understand the importance of applying for money every year to improve the percentage of designated accessible bus stops. We are proud to say that the majority of municipalities within TransLink’s service area now apply yearly for cost sharing. In addition each municipalities update bus stops each year to increase the percentage of available accessible bus stops.
- CAN brings to light the need for improvements. When Maple Ridge’s new transit hub was built it was sorely lacking in features for people who are blind or visually impaired and we immediately brought our concerns to TransLink and the municipal engineering department who worked with CAN and improved the design and added several features that increased the usability and safety of the transit hub for those with visual impairments.
CAN Works with ACT Staff and Lowers Special Needs Seating Price
The Art Centre Theatre in Maple Ridge raised the prices of the special needs seating when they created a pricing tier system. CAN was contacted by dozens of community members who were upset that they were expected to pay more when they didn’t have a choice as to where they sat. CAN discussed the issue with the ACT and explained that since those in the special needs seating are unable to choose where they sit in the theatre this practice was unfair. Being responsive to the CAN’s concerns, and those of their patrons, they remedied this as soon as it was brought to their attention and apologized for the situation. It was an oversight and the proper information has been added into their computer system.
CAN Contacted Regarding Regarding Confusing Parking Policy at the Ridge Meadows Hospital
CAN was contacted by several members who were confused about the pricing for the handicapped parking spots at the Ridge Meadows Hospital. A poster hanging in the rehab department of the hospital stated that “Persons with disabilities coming to Ridge Meadows Hospital may park anywhere onsite, in any parking stall free of charge. Your approved identification placard must be clearly visible in your vehicle to avoid ticketing.” People were upset that this policy was not better communicated as many had been paying. Some people attempted to get an answer from the hospital regarding this sign but were unable to get a straight answer. CAN stepped in to clarify the matter.
CAN contacted several people and we eventually spoke with Don MacAlistar, the Director of Protection Services for the Fraser Health Authority (FHA), and he was apprised of the confusion surrounding this situation and committed to look into it. He quickly followed up explaining that there is no written policy concerning free parking for those with SPARC placards. FHA’s written policy says that every person who parks in a FHA parking lot must pay for the duration of their visit. Mr. MacAlistar said that while there is no policy, written or otherwise, concerning this matter it is understood that "if a person with a disability is unable to purchase tickets their nonpayment will not be enforced". In other words while the FHA expects all visitors to pay for their parking they do understand that some people with disabilities are unable to use the ticket machines. If these people park without a ticket, due to their inability to get a ticket from the machine, their nonpayment will not be penalized. Mr. MacAlistar said that while there is no written policy there is leniency towards those with disabilities.
While it was good to get an answer concerning this question it is not an answer which was available in writing, or which was considered a 'policy'. When suggested to Mr. MacAlistar that it is hard to communicate a non-written, non-policy, to those who are confused about the matter he said that the above quote could be used in writing for the purposes of CAN newsletter and web site, but that it would not be available in writing from the FHA. Mr. MacAlistar did apologize for the confusion and the inconsistent messages from the various departments. He assured CAN that the matter would be looked into and that the various departments would be told about the non-written, non-policy. The members who contacted CAN were pleased to get an answer, even if it was not as clear as they had hoped. They were then able to use the parking lot with confidence and with an understanding that the staff would not be communicating different messages about the payment in the parking for people with disabilities.
Community Member Contacts CAN About Dog Park Accessibility
CAN was contacted by a member of the community who had been corresponding with the Project Manager for the Vancouver Parks and Recreation department about making the enclosed dog park just of the west of the Olympic Village as accessible as possible for people with mobility aids. The park was initially a gated fenced area with a ground cover of gravel that people with mobility devices could not maneuver over, it also had a gate latch that not everyone could open on their own. The woman who contacted CAN uses a PADS service dog and when she realized that she was unable to move over the gravel at the dog park she contacted parks and recreation and has been corresponding by e-mail with a staff member. She was concerned because she was unaware of the needs of others who have a different or more severe disability so she decided to contact CAN so that we could help to advocate “to make the park truly accessible for all disabilities”. Our contact was told that improvements were being made to the accessibility of the surface but she was still concerned about matters such as what happens if your dog poops in an area off the main path of travel?
CAN contacted Craig Langston who is co-chair of the City of Vancouver Access and Inclusion Committee who consults with the Vancouver city council. Craig was thankful to be made aware of this situation and he started a dialogue with our contact. As Craig has more knowledge in this area we were glad to let him take this issue from there. We did check in, after a couple of weeks, with our contact to ensure that she felt her concerns were met and addressed; she was satisfied.
CAN welcomes community members contacting us with their concerns. Over the years CAN has built up a list of contacts and if we are unable to help we are usually able to direct the person to someone who can assist them. We also follow-up to ensure that our contact was able to help them and if they weren’t able to assist we will offer another possible contact. This follow-up helps to make sure the person who contacted us feels taken care of and it helps us know whether the contact we provided helped which gives us a better understanding of who on our contact list can help with what issues.
CAN Gets Clarification and Copy of Coast Mountain Bus Company’s Policy Regarding Malfunctioning Ramps
CAN was regularly contacted by transit users in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows who use a mobility device and who have been denied service because the driver tells them that the ramp is malfunctioning. As the bus service in certain areas of Maple Ridge is not regular this can severely affect a person’s ability to make appointments, get to work or school, or go about their day. CAN contacted Coast Mountain Bus Company to ask what their policy is regarding this. We received a copy of their policy that states if a ramp is malfunctioning and another bus is not coming in a reasonable amount of time the driver is to call for an accessible taxi and CMBC will pay for the taxi ride. CAN suggested that people print a copy of this policy and keep it with them in case the bus driver is not informed about the policy and this worked for several transit users. CAN was also able to get CMBC to commit to posting the policy in the bus drivers’ hubs so the drivers could see it as well.
*Fortunately this situation has improved in the years since. Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows no longer have the older buses with several steps which were often the cause of the malfunctioning ramps. All buses now have low floor ramps which can be manually used.
Representatives of CAN Participate in Focus Group about Interactions Between Police and People with Physical Disabilities
CAN took part in a focus group with a team of researchers from BCIT and the Justice Institute of BC who are working on a project sponsored by the Disability Health Research Network. The project aims to identify key issues around interactions between police and people with physical disabilities, with the goal of developing educational tools that will further positive relationships between these two groups. Separate focus groups were held with representatives from groups representing people with physical disabilities, including CAN members, and police officers to get a better understanding of some of the issues both groups face during interactions with each other. The team will then use the information to form a plan to address these issues. The main issue that was discussed was the experience of a person with a disability that affects their agility or speech being mistaken as being intoxicated. The discussion that followed was about how this situation was handled. The dialogue was productive and those who attended were able to offer a unique perspective as individuals who have been in that experience or who knew of someone who had been in that situation. It is unfortunate that these situations happen but those in the room were very good about understanding that oftentimes the police do not have the proper training regarding people with disabilities and also that the police do not always have the time in a situation to properly assess each individual. It is a situation that should not occur but those in the room worked positively towards a way to educate police as well as to educate people with disabilities that might be mistaken for being intoxicated as to how they can prepare for the situation or create something, such as a card, that explains their disability, in case the unfortunate situation occurs. It is the responsibility of both the police and people with disabilities to work to lessen the occurrence of this and CAN was glad to be a part of a group working together to find a solution.
CAN Advocates for Sport Team in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows
CAN was contacted by several residents in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows who were frustrated that there were no adaptive sport and recreation opportunities in the two communities. They found that most sport opportunities were in Vancouver and for a variety of reasons (transportation being number one) they were unable to access those opportunities. CAN advocated on their behalf and was able to secure funding as well a gym for a power soccer team which the players dubbed Ridge Rockets. CAN members then coached and volunteered to support the team.
For Her Work at Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods CAN’s ED Awarded the Access and Inclusion Award from City of Vancouver
Heather McCain, CAN’s ED was nominated by representatives of SPARC BC, BC Disability Games Society and the Chair of CAN’s Board of Directors for the Vancouver Access and Inclusion Award. Heather was very pleased and humbled to learn that she had been chosen as the recipient. This is the second year of the award and the second year in which Heather has been nominated. Last year Heather was nominated by representatives of Legacies 2010 and TransLink.
The awards “recognize individuals and organizations that demonstrate leadership and commitment to enhancing accessibility, inclusion, universality and the elimination of any barriers that may impede the full participation of persons with any type of disability in community life”.
The following was read by Gregor Robertson as Heather received her award: “In her community work Heather McCain has contributed her wealth of knowledge, experience, professionalism and candour to make Metro Vancouver a more accessible and inclusive place to live work and play for persons with disabilities. As Executive Director of CAN Heather McCain has been an exemplary role model for the community of persons with disabilities. Despite her young age, Heather demonstrates outstanding maturity, tact and skills in attaining the goals of her organization Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods. Heather single-handedly recognized the need for a centralized resource organization to assist people with disabilities have access to their community and to have equal opportunity for inclusion. Heather’s achievements in community service around increasing access and inclusion for persons with disabilities have been significant. Her contributions, most particularly in the areas of accessible transit and promoting universal design, will impact the citizens of Vancouver and of the entire Metro Vancouver region for many years to come. Heather demonstrates steadfast commitment and leadership to improve access and inclusion for the entire community of persons with disabilities, and is a worthy recipient for the Access & Inclusion Awards.”
For Her Work at Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods CAN’s ED Awarded the Sport BC Presidents' Award from the BC Disability Games Society
CAN’s Executive Director was awarded the Sport BC Presidents’ Award from BC Disability Games Society. The Presidents’ Awards are presented annually to volunteers from Sport BC member organizations who represent the spirit of volunteerism, and whose dedication, energy, and commitment contribute to development of their sport or organization. CAN’s ED was nominated for her work at CAN promoting, encouraging, and educating about adaptive sport and recreation.
For Her Work Through Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods CAN’s ED Awarded the BCPA Leadership Award
For founding and running Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods, CAN’s Executive Director, Heather McCain, was awarded the BC Paraplegic Association Leadership Award. This award is in recognition of individuals and organizations that have demonstrated effective leadership in building welcoming communities through advocacy, awareness building initiatives or innovative service delivery benefiting people with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities.
CAN’s consultation services are contracted by organizations, businesses and individuals. We are also contacted by those looking for information pertaining to anything that may affect a person with a disability (accessibility, customer service, disability awareness, etc.). Our projects vary from one-time consultations to a year-long project with The Rick Hansen Foundation on their Global Accessibility Initiative. We are happy to help anyone who contacts us and if we are not available we have a list of trusted consultants to whom we can refer you. Here are a few examples of our consultation projects:
CAN Consulted by Justice Institute of BC Regarding TaxiHost Training Program and Manual
CAN was contacted by the Justice Institute of BC regarding our disability awareness training videos. We were asked if we would mind sharing these videos with the Justice Institute for use in their TaxiHost training program. CAN is happy for anybody and any organization to make use of these videos and we were pleased to hear that the taxi drivers would gain access to them as we often hear from members that they have experienced issues with taxi drivers who are unaware of how to interact with people with disabilities. CAN commends the Justice Institute for improving the training for taxi drivers and we are happy to share our resources with them. In addition to sharing our video as a resource we shared some hand-outs that we use in our disability awareness courses. We were then asked to consult on their training manual. Upon reviewing their draft copy we were quite impressed with what the Justice Institute has put together. We did have some suggestions as to corrections, and/or alterations. We are pleased to know that CAN was used to make a positive impact, through our consulting, on improving interactions between taxi drivers and people with disabilities.
CAN Hired as Consultant by the Canadian Centre of Disability Studies for Tool for Livable and Inclusive Communities
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods was hired by the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies (CCDS) to put together a team of people to participate in workshops on a study entitled Livable and Inclusive Communities for Seniors with Disabilities and All Citizens: Model and Tools. Following these workshops we had two representatives of the team attend an interprovincial working meeting in Winnipeg. The purpose of the meeting was to provide participants with an overview of research findings. We also tested the Livable and Inclusive Community Tool and assessed selected initiatives. We then spoke about possible opportunities to test the model. The two members from CAN's team were interested to see what had become of the feedback we offered in the workshops. We saw several similarities to that of the Measuring Up program. The purpose of the study was to: learn about how community and government stakeholders plan for the needs of seniors with disabilities, to increase the knowledge of policy makers, service providers and community on the Livable and Inclusive Communities Model and its impact on the lives of seniors with disabilities, and develop a shared community and government planning process (based on the Livable and Inclusive Communities Model) that would result in better activity coordination, decision-making and distribution of resources for seniors with disabilities.
CAN Hired as Consultant for the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Global Accessibility Map
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods was hired as a consultant to work on the Rick Hansen Foundation Global Accessibility Initiative. In our consultation role we were hired to create an accessibility checklist, to test the checklist, and to help create a form for the project’s website.
CAN Consults with Researchers from BCIT Regarding Interactions Between Police and People with Physical Disabilities
CAN consulted with a team of researchers from BCIT and the Justice Institute of BC who are working on a project sponsored by the Disability Health Research Network. The project aims to identify key issues around interactions between police and people with physical disabilities, with the goal of developing educational tools that will further positive relationships between these two groups. Separate focus groups were held with representatives from groups representing people with physical disabilities, including CAN members, and police officers to get a better understanding of some of the issues both groups face during interactions with each other. The team will then use the information to form a plan to address these issues. The main issue that was discussed was the experience of a person with a disability that affects their agility or speech being mistaken as being intoxicated. The discussion that followed was about how this situation was handled. The dialogue was productive and those who attended were able to offer a unique perspective as individuals who have been in that experience or who knew of someone who had been in that situation. It is unfortunate that these situations happen but those in the room were very good about understanding that oftentimes the police do not have the proper training regarding people with disabilities and also that the police do not always have the time in a situation to properly assess each individual. It is a situation that should not occur but those in the room worked positively towards a way to educate police as well as to educate people with disabilities that might be mistaken for being intoxicated as to how they can prepare for the situation or create something, such as a card, that explains their disability, in case the unfortunate situation occurs. It is the responsibility of both the police and people with disabilities to work to lessen the occurrence of this and CAN was glad to be a part of a group working together to find a solution.
CAN Quoted in Discussion Paper on Wheelchair Accessible Transportation
CAN is often contacted by people who have issues with taxi driver interaction so we were very pleased when we were asked to consult on a report being written by the Passenger Transportation Board regarding using a wheelchair in taxis and inter-city buses; CAN was asked to consult and share what we had heard from people about their experiences. Following our consultation the board posted its report, Wheelchair Accessible Transportation by Taxi and Inter-city Bus in British Columbia. The report shares perspectives on customer service, driver training, vehicles, and financial challenges, among other matters. It discusses actions the Board is taking. It also makes suggestions for actions that some others in British Columbia can take in areas that are outside the Board’s jurisdiction.
CAN is quoted twice in the report:
“Training is one of the most important components in having an accessible service that will be used. I am contacted by many people who are frustrated by the lack of knowledge regarding the tie- downs for their scooters and wheelchairs and who do not use the taxi service because they do not feel safe. The drivers must have training and they must have training on a regular basis... training is important for both safety and for having a timely service... if a driver takes a long time to hook up and unhook a mobility device it will be frustrating, time wise, for both the driver and the passenger.” (page 17)
“I have heard from many people... that when they call for taxi service they are asked for details about their disability that they are not comfortable discussing. I have also heard from people that they have phoned dispatch and had to argue to get a wheelchair accessible taxi... I personally have had a dispatcher argue with me about whether or not I really need an accessible taxi.” (page 24)
We are glad to see that accessible transportation is being discussed as while we have come a long way in the Lower Mainland in regards to accessible transportation there is still a lot of room for improvement and outside of the Lower Mainland there is a huge need for improved transportation options for people with disabilities. To read this report go to www.th.gov.bc.ca/
CAN Consultant for BC Rehab Foundation Community Based Funding Initiative
The Executive Director of Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods was asked to be a consultant for the BC Rehab Foundation Community Partnerships Initiative which was offering five grants of up to $10,000 to improve community accessibility in the Province of BC. The intent of the BC Rehab Community Partnerships Initiative is to increase accessibility in BC communities and create opportunities for the full participation of people with physical disabilities. The funding that BC Rehab was offering was for a community-based project that benefits a particular community by improving accessibility and increases opportunities for people with physical disabilities living in BC. CAN's ED was part of the review committee and considered a range of grant requests and project proposals. Examples of areas where BC Rehab considered granting funding: retrofitting a building, upgrading existing facilities to improve access, community-based programming, public space projects(e.g. accessible urban gardens) and equipment acquisitions to improve universal public access (e.g. ramps, lifts, etc).
CAN Consults with SuperHost by Reviewing the Existing Customer with Disabilities Workshop
SuperHost utilized CAN’s consultation services as they reviewed their current Customer with Disabilities Workshop. CAN representatives offered feedback on the current workshop as well as advised how SuperHost could update their content.
CAN Contacted with Requests for Consultation
CAN is regularly contacted by people who wish for us to consult on projects; here are some examples of requests from people:
- A contractor from Grand Prairie, Alberta who was doing a project in Dawson Creek and needed to know about universal design, specifically for a footbridge. He was having troubles finding information about pathway accessibility when he came across our web site and phoned us. We had the proper document and e-mailed him immediately. He thanked us for the help. We appreciate contractors like Mr. Anderson who continued to dig to get the answers to make sure that his finished project is accessible for all.
- A researcher who was hired by the City of Abbotsford and Spirit BC to develop a tool that could be used to improve accessibility for residents of Abbotsford. She was working on two projects: an evaluation of the transportation services, and choosing a a central location in Abbotsford to evaluate for accessibility. The evaluation of the central location was done by physically walking the route and observing the side walks, traffic lights, bus stops, curb cuts, signage, etc., and reporting back with recommendations for improvements. CAN was able to supply her with a document that we created for Maple Ridge which lists important accessibility issues for the downtown core. She was very thankful and said that it gave them direction and helped them understand the issues. Ms. Urquhart also requested permission to reference the universal design information on CAN’s web site in her report. We, of course, gave her permission and were glad to do so.
- A student from SFU who was doing a report on SFU dorm housing. The student searched the internet for information on accessibility and came upon our web site. She was very pleased with the input we were able to provide her and we were glad to help promote education and understanding about accessibility.
- An organization located on the Sunshine Coast contacted us to ask about creating an accessible trail. They were looking for guidelines on the internet when they came upon our web site. We helped the Sunshine Coast organization by leading them to documents with guidelines. They appreciated our help and we were glad to help any organization that considers accessibility an important goal to achieve.
- A reporter in Ontario contacted us because she was wanting to do a story about Power Soccer. She saw the listing for Power Soccer on our site and interviewed one of the Maple Ridge players for Kids on Wheels, a magazine for children who use wheelchairs.
- A professor from Nagoya University contacted CAN to ask about what was being done in the Lower Mainland to prepare the Paralympics. We were able to meet with the professor when she visited Vancouver. We demonstrated what a person with a mobility impairment or disability deals with on a daily basis and why accessibility is so important. She has kept in touch and hopes to have another meeting with us when she returns in the future.
Maple Ridge Municipal Staff Asks CAN for Accessibility Guideline Information
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods received a call from the municipality of Maple Ridge regarding a new wooden bridge being constructed in Maple Ridge Park. We were consulted regarding questions about the accessibility of wooden slats, and the allowed width of the gaps on the bridge. During our consultation we were also able to suggest that slip resistance cover be used to prevent falls. We truly appreciated the municipal staff contacting us before a project was done to confer regarding accessibility guidelines. The municipal employees thanked us for the document and had some follow-up consultation questions regarding the material within the document. We are proud to know that our organization is the first to be consulted and that our ideas and suggestions are treated with respect and appreciation; this is a true sign that our continued efforts to ensure improved accessibility are working.
CAN Founder Heather McCain Appointed to the Position of Disability Advisor for the Ridge-Meadows Transit Riders' Advisory Committee
A meeting was held in Maple Ridge with with mayor, council members, staff from TransLink and Coast Mountain Bus Company, bus drivers, and transit users. The purpose of the meeting was to come to an understanding about the issues of transit users and to find a solution to the many communication difficulties. Mayor Robson had been receiving a large number of e-mails regarding transportation frustrations and called the meeting to encourage communication between all groups. After the meeting Mayor Robson created TRAC, the Transit Riders Advisory Committee, an organization working cooperatively towards better transportation by fostering communication between the riders, drivers and management. In addition to creating TRAC Mayor Robson appointed CAN founder Heather McCain to the position of Disability Advisor. Heather’s role will be to consult on issues regarding accessible transportation, act as a facilitator between transit users with disabilities and the city and TransLink, and be a voice for a part of our population who feels they are invisible and unheard regarding the transit system.
Disability Awareness Video
Presentations and Speaking Engagements