We live in an ableist society even though 1 in 5 Canadians live with a disability. More specifically, according to a report commissioned by the City of Victoria in 2020, there are approximately 19, 000 residents in Victoria living with one or more visible and/or invisible disabilities. We do our best to consider those with disabilities, but there is still a long way to go.
For the last 3 years, I’ve tested much of Victoria’s accessibility myself when pushing a stroller with my children. Numerous times, I’ve encountered unkempt hedges, telephone poles, recycling bins, and many stairs that obstructed our path. It’s not only inconvenient, but also unsafe as there are times I often needed to navigate onto the main road to go around an ill-parked car on the sidewalk. I’m grateful I have the ability to park the stroller and move things out of the way or lift the stroller up a stair or two. When accessibility for ALL residents are not considered, we exclude entire groups of people in our city.
A thriving Victoria is one that is accessible to everyone. We need a barrier-free city that includes those with mobility and other disability challenges.
In the 2018 election at the Forum for Disability and Accessibility, I had the opportunity to share about my Dyslexia and challenges in my day to day work and life. I’m grateful technology like audio readers and apps have come a long way in helping me adapt to the things I need to do. However, there’s so much more we can learn and do in order to make life more comfortable and convenient for those with disabilities.
It’s great that the City of Victoria has adopted the Accessibility Framework and has an Accessibility Advisory Committee. We need to deliberately elect and hire people with different abilities so that everyone is included in the design and decisions that make our city awesome.