UW is planning to make campus more accessible. To ensure the university’s facilities are universally inclusive, eight buildings on the main campus will be reviewed for physical accessibility.
According to a 2017 study by Statistics Canada, one in five Canadians aged 15 or older identifies with having one or more disabilities.
The Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) is a national rating system that determines the level of meaningful access to a site. The system was developed by the Rick Hansen Foundation, a Canadian charity whose mission is to “create and deliver innovative solutions that lead to a global movement to remove barriers and liberate the potential of people with disabilities.”
The Government of Ontario partnered with the foundation in January 2020, providing $1.3 million in funding for 250 sites across 15 municipalities to be evaluated.
The buildings receiving assessment are B.C. Matthews Hall (BMH), the Physical Activities Complex (PAC), South Campus Hall (SCH), the Student Life Centre (SLC), Columbia Icefield, Mathematics and Computer (MC), Claudette Millar Hall and Dana Porter Library (DP).
A rating will be assigned to each building based on relevant criteria. To become certified, a building must meet the minimum certification requirements and score above 60 per cent. The rating scorecard can then be used to identify areas for improvement.
The certification process typically takes 10 to 12 weeks. COVID-19 safety measures and campus visitation guidelines will be followed during assessment.
In late 2020, the Pharmacy Building was the first UW building to become RHF Accessibility Certified with a score of 71 per cent.
Since the launch of the RHFAC program, at least 790 sites across Canada have become RHF Accessibility Certified. The foundation also offers awareness programs, professional training, accessibility grants to positively influence perceptions of disability and eliminate obstacles to inclusivity and more.