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Make all new buildings accessible, Rick Hansen says in St. John's

Rick Hansen visited St. John’s City Hall Monday evening, where he spoke about his #EveryoneEverywhere campaign across Canada to make the country more accessible and inclusive.
Rick Hansen visited St. John’s City Hall Monday evening, where he spoke about his #EveryoneEverywhere campaign across Canada to make the country more accessible and inclusive. - Juanita Mercer

The Man in Motion in town promoting the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) program

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

It’s been more than 30 years since Rick Hansen set out on his Man in Motion World Tour wheelchair marathon that raised $26 million and changed the way people with disabilities are perceived. 

The six-time Paralympic medalist hasn’t stopped moving since, and he’s back in St. John’s this week to help break down a fundamental barrier that people with disabilities still frequently face: physical barriers in buildings and sites. 

He met with Premier Dwight Ball Monday morning, and attended the St. John’s city council meeting Monday evening. 

He’s also the keynote speaker at BOMEX 2019, a national building conference in St. John’s on Tuesday hosted by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

He’s promoting the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) program, which rates commercial, institutional and multi-unit residential buildings and sites. Once rated, a site can publicly list its certification level on the RHFAC registry and display signage indicating the location is accessible.

“We hope that through a certification program that’s national and global, we’ll change the design community so architects, engineers, city planners and people with disabilities will have a say in training, accreditation and knowledge," Hansen said.

“We can measure the same things and speak the same language, and make it normal to ensure that all new buildings are completely accessible for everyone who happens to have a disability.”

Hansen said his biggest recommendation to the city is to adopt this certification program. 

Mayor Danny Breen said the city is talking internally about what kind of an impact it can have with accessibility improvements. 

He said Hansen was pleased with some of the work the city has done to try to improve accessibility to some of the city's older buildings, such as adding ramps to some heritage properties downtown.

Breen also said the new accessibility playground to be built in St. John’s came about because of recommendations Hansen made.

Hansen is encouraging people to use the hashtag #EveryoneEverywhere when discussing accessibility as part of a broader awareness campaign. 

Twitter: @juanitamercer_

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