NOTE: The following is an op-ed from Gerry Post, executive director of the Nova Scotia Accessibility Directorate.
National AccessAbility Week runs from May 27 to June 2. It’s a time to promote inclusion and accessibility and share our commitment to a more equitable and barrier-free province for all Nova Scotians.
In Nova Scotia, we know that almost one in six people age 15 years and older identify as having a disability. This number is expected to rise as our population ages.
That’s why we’ve set a goal to become an accessible province by 2030.
It will be no small task, but our guiding legislation, the Accessibility Act, outlines what needs to be done to ensure every Nova Scotian can participate in our society. It will take all of us: government, businesses, communities and individuals working together, to get there.
I want to commend the community organizations, businesses and academic institutions who already have many great initiatives underway.
A good example is the recently launched Rick Hansen Accessibility Certification Program delivered in partnership with Nova Scotia Community College and the province through the Business ACCESS-Ability Grant Program. Assessors, some of whom will be persons with disabilities, are being trained to analyze buildings and sites for overall accessibility. The program is designed to help businesses become more accessible to both customers and employees.
Equal opportunity and improved access is also being provided to community facilities through the Community ACCESS-Ability Program.
I encourage businesses and organizations to continue their work in helping us build stronger communities. It’s encouraging to see businesses large and small taking leadership to help reduce barriers for persons with disabilities and provide more employment opportunities.
So please, take a moment during National AccessAbility Week to think about what an equitable, barrier-free province could look like.
It’s timely that the province’s Accessibility Directorate is in the middle of talking to Nova Scotians across the province about accessibility. These sessions are an opportunity to better understand the barriers that exist for persons with disabilities, and to hear creative and innovative solutions on how to remove those barriers.
I encourage you to be part of the discussion and to help drive the changes that are needed to ensure all persons with disabilities can participate in society.