– By Aamir Sheriff
“Government policy that outlines universal and accessible design requirements for buildings, homes, street, stores and the general infrastructure of cities would help reduce costs in the long run.”
“We need ONE website across different disabilities where people can collaborate, and have access to information categorized by employment, education, and other relevant topics.”
“We’re concerned about the continuation of support for our children after they turn 18.”
These are just some of the insights brought forward by community members on Thursday afternoon at the B.C. Disability White Paper community consultation in Surrey. ‘How do YOU think B.C. is doing when it comes to inclusiveness and accessibility?’ is the question the B.C. government is asking at these community consultations, which are being held in different communities across the province.
When I first entered the forum, we were first given an overview of the White Paper process. I joined a table with two facilitators and three other community members. We spent 10 minutes each on six topics:
- Personal supports, aids and devices
- Work and contribution
- Housing and accessibility in the broader environment
- Social networks
- Asset accumulation through the Registered Disability Savings Plan
There were around 80 people in attendance at this session, so the small group breakout sessions allowed everyone’s voice to be heard. The key ideas were then presented by the table facilitators. It was also a great opportunity to meet so many other citizens who are eager and excited to share their opinions on how B.C. can become more inclusive and accessible.
Participants were also encouraged to contribute more of their ideas on the “solution wall” and “removing red tape wall” to ultimately feed into the policy development process. For me, it was eye-opening to hear the broad range of considerations that need to be made when working towards a more inclusive and accessible province.
The public consultations are being guided by a leadership team made up of government, the disability community, led by the Minister’s Council on Employment and Accessibility, and the business community, led by the President’s Group. Following the consultations, the ideas and solutions presented by members of the community will be used to form the B.C. Disability White Paper. To know more about the process, watch this video.
There are several consultations coming up in February, check out this webpage for all the dates, times and locations. If you are unable to make it to a session, be sure to check out these other ways to participate, including an online forum, hosting your own session, or tweeting using the hashtag #disabilitybc. Consultations close at 4pm on March 11th. Don’t miss this chance to have your voice heard!