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AccessAbility Awareness Week celebrates people with disabilities

By Aly Beach/The Oshawa Express

AccessAbility Awareness Week in Oshawa runs from May 28 to June 3 and aims to raise awareness of accessibility, celebrate people with disabilities and the accomplishments in accessibility thus far.

The weeklong event creates the opportunity to bring the community, businesses, government and people with disabilities together to incite change in the lives of people living with disabilities.

Oshawa Mayor John Henry announced the proclamation at the May 14 public accessibility meeting, after a request from Oshawa resident Adam White, who made a delegation request for the city to participate in the event, which is held nationwide.

To kick off AccessAbility Awareness Week, the Oshawa Accessibility Advisory Committee (OAAC) hosted an information sharing display on May 28 at city hall to educate residents on the accessible programs, services and facilities available throughout the city.

The Region of Durham also chose to participate, with a display of accessibility information created by the region’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and accessibility coordinator Janet Traer. On May 30, the region will host a lunch and a learning session called, “I’m Still Here,” which is a research-based drama about living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The University Institute of Technology (UOIT) will launch a social media campaign to raise awareness and highlight the way UOIT is removing barriers for students.

“Our goal is to change the way everybody thinks, talks and acts about barriers to participation and accessibility right from the start, rather than an afterthought,” says UOIT Student Accessibility acting manager Heather Leckey.

She says that while post-secondary education can lead to things like income security, health and wellness, people with disabilities seem to be less likely to attend compared to those without disabilities.

“Those people also have the potential to achieve success in this environment in the manner in which they’re supported at their institution, which can play a large role in their success and it’s UOIT’s goal to integrate accessibility into everything that we do,” says Leckey.

Durham College on the other hand has trained some staff in accessible documents and held an Accessibility Coordinating Committee meeting at the beginning of AccessAbility Awareness Week. They have launched a social media campaign to bring awareness to the various accessibility services that the school offers.

Looking back, Rick Hansen first conceived the idea for a national weeklong campaign after his Man in Motion world tour in 1987.

Rick Hansen is a Canadian athlete, accessibility advocate and philanthropist for people with disabilities. In 1985, he started his Man in Motion World Tour, journeying across the world using his wheelchair. He traveled through 34 countries raising $26 million for people with disabilities after ending the tour.