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What Can I Do to Increase Meaningful Access?

Over 6 million of our fellow Canadians live with at least one type of disability. This means that we should all be asking ourselves, “What can I do to make our community more accessible and inclusive for everyone?”. To make a difference, you don’t need to be a CEO who installs elevators in all their offices, or a politician who allocates funds to accessible causes. You can just be YOU!
What do you think of when you ask yourself, “What can I do to make our community more accessible and inclusive for everyone?” Here is a list of a few things that we thought of when we asked ourselves this question…


1. Educate Yourself
What do you know about the 10 categories of disabilities identified by Stats Canada? What about Nova Scotia’s registered plan for accessibility? There are countless educational resources that you can access for free online!
But even more importantly, many of our fellow Canadians want to share their stories about lived experiences with disabilities. Some things you just can’t learn from books and blogs. Listening receptively to peoples’ life stories is one of the best ways to broaden your understanding of their experiences and the accessibility barriers that they notice in our communities!
 2. Break Down Attitudinal Barriers
One of the biggest barriers to accessibility is attitudinal barriers. People with disabilities are people – people who we need involved in every facet of our communities! Take some time to reflect on your own attitudinal barriers…
How do I feel about making our community accessible for people of all abilities?
Do I have any negative thoughts or reservations about making our community accessible?
What actions or perspectives can I use to challenge these unhelpful thoughts?
Can I replace these thoughts with more educated, or well balanced, perspectives?
Bringing awareness to our outlooks on accessibility is the first step to breaking down our own attitudinal barriers, and helping others do the same!
3. Think About Your Positions of Influence
No matter who you are, you can use your influence and connections to support accessibility. If you’re a business owner, think about making your building more accessible for staff and customers of all abilities! Or schedule an educational session for your team to learn more about accessibility and inclusivity in the workplace.
If you’re a parent or guardian, teach your kids about diversity, acceptance, and how to interact with and include other kids with disabilities!
If you’re an employee or student, pay attention to barriers around you that might make your place of work or learning less welcoming to others. Start these conversations in your workplace or bring identified barriers to the attention of your managers or school faculty!
4. Be Mindful of the Lived Experiences Around You
Pay attention to opportunities to help those around you – people of all abilities! Small actions lead to big change. Can you make a small donation to an organization that is helping people with disabilities? Can you carry someone’s groceries to their vehicle? Can you hold a door open with a smile? Remember to always ask someone if you may help them before acting. Asking if you can help push someone’s wheeled mobility device ensures that your kindness is not misinterpreted by the person you’re interacting with, doesn’t infringe upon their personal space without their consent, or worse, cause an unintended injury by not knowing what they need.
No matter who you are, YOU can do something to make the environments around you more welcoming to people of all abilities! It all starts with asking yourself the simple question, “What can I do to make my community more accessible and inclusive for everyone?”