GTA Construction Report staff writer
The Canadian Building Suppliers’ Network (CBSN) has launched an Accessibility ‘Social Code’ Program (ASCP) to “champion equity and accessibility by helping to removebarriers to buildings and to employment for persons with disabilities.”
The program includes educational programs, the promotion, and provisioning, ofbest-practice design standards and access to accessibilitysolutionsfor business, to ensure properties effectively accommodate people with all forms of disabilities.
CBSN president Wayne Proulx says one of the program’s key messages is that there is more to accessibility than what most people see and what building codes mandate. “It is estimated that one-third of the population has some form of disability and as our population continues to age, that number will rise. It is something that will touch many of us and something we aren’t doing a very good job at providing for.”
Proulx says there are many examples of inadequate accessibility everywhere he turns. Many public companies believe they are accessible, but lack simple things such as low service counters or accessible washrooms for visitors and staff with disabilities.
He says businesses that claim to be accessible but then have to offer assistance to someone in a wheelchair to get in over a step, or to guide someone with a visual impairment to where they need to be, are not truly accessible.
“It’s unfortunate that we even need to have this discussion,” he said. “We have, and are,spending billions of dollars worldwide making sure our buildings are ‘green’, without legislation convincing us to do so (which of course is important), but then we need to be governed to(as ineffective as it may currently be) to make sure buildings and communications are accessible. That’s just wrong.”
He says CBSN intends to be a delivery agent to the private and public sectors to make them more accessible, to ensure designers, property owners and managers understand that accessibility is a social and moral responsibility they must all strive for , not simply one of meeting evolving building code requirements, but one that has true economic benefits for all
CBSN is hoping to drive change from the top down and will work with government officials at all levels.
“We want to get people to see accessibility from a different perspective. There isn’t a person I meet who, when I point out ‘real’ accessibility they think already exists, doesn’t have a moment of understanding and see things in a different light. We are providing an accessibility lens through which to see their world,” said Proulx.
“I’m pleased to hear that the CBSN has introduced a program aimed at enhancing our community’s accessibility standards through their ‘Social Code’ and ongoing educational training for business leaders in the private sector,” Ontario Minister Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure Brad Duguid said. “Our government remains dedicated to working with all levels of government, the private sector, and organizations like CBSN to increase awareness, educational programs, and a higher accessibility standard for all Ontarians.”
CBSN has created the ASCP as a ‘call to action’ to both the private and public sectors for businesses, property owners and managers. The organization offers accessibility boot camps through Ryerson University, can connect business to the funding they need to improve, answers questions and provides information.
Ryerson’s Marie Bountrogianni said: “As the Dean of The Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education of Ryerson University, we are pleased to offer a certificate program in Advancing the AODA. Ryerson will be working with the CBSN to deliver an offering that focuses on inclusive accessible design standards and applications to the built environments.”
CBSN has also linked with Adaptability Canada Corp’s expertise and resources. Jeff Wilson, president and CEO said: “We are eager to lend our unique expertise to the CBSN, and all its partners, to deliver innovative, strategic and practical accessibility knowledge and solutions to both the public and private sectors to further help manage their risk and drive customer service excellence in the built environment.”
To learn more, visit www.thecbsn.com.