Rick Hansen was at Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen Secondary School, named after the famed disabled athlete, to announce that the school had received his foundation’s first “gold” rating for accessibility Wednesday morning. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

B.C. school gets Rick Hansen’s first ‘gold’ accessibility rating for school

Rick Hansen Secondary was paid a visit by its namesake, who announced the accolade

An Abbotsford secondary school has earned high accolades for its accessibility for persons with disabilities, a fitting accomplishment considering its namesake.

Rick Hansen, the famed disabled athlete, was at the Abbotsford secondary school of the same name Wednesday morning to announce that it would be the first school in Canada to earn a “gold” rating certification for its accessibility.

The rating comes from the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification, a rating system devised by the charitable foundation through a three-year-long process starting in 2015. The system offers two levels of certification: RHF accessibility certified, with a rating score of at least 60 per cent, and RHF accessibility certified gold, with a rating score of at least 80 per cent.

RELATED: B.C. proclaims Rick Hansen Day to promote disability access

RELATED: Rick Hansen Secondary honoured for anti-bullying effort

Brad McCannell, vice president of access and inclusion for the Rick Hansen Foundation, who created the rating system, said part of what makes Rick Hansen Secondary special is that it caters not just to the obvious needs of persons with disabilities, but goes beyond.

“Not only do we have elevators here, but we have one that’s oversized. One of the things that’s happening is chairs are getting bigger and bigger – scooters and then reclining chairs,” McCannell said.

McCannell noted that the oversized elevator was “just a sign of more inclusion.”

“The community of people with disabilities is way more active than it ever used to be. So the fact that we need a bigger elevator means we’re getting more people involved, and that’s a really good sign,” McCannell said.

Rick Hansen Secondary principal Dave de Wit listed a number of ways that the school has been made more accessible, including signage with raised lettering and Braille for the visually impaired, visual alarms in washrooms to indicate an emergency for those with hearing impairments, fully accessible washrooms on both floors and automated double-door entries.

“All of our Grade 9 students also use the Rick Hansen Foundation school program free tool kits and lesson plans to learn more about how you can become leaders and champions for access and inclusion,” de Wit said.

Not only is the community of persons with disabilities getting more active, but Hansen said it’s only going to get larger with the aging population.

“There’s over 1.3 billion people on the planet today living with a disability, and with the aging baby boomers, those numbers are going to rise exponentially, so it’s not a marginal thing anymore. It’s mainstream,” Hansen told the high school.

“It’s a human right, but it’s also an economic and cultural imperative to remove barriers, and making communities accessible and inclusive for everyone just makes common sense.”

McCannell said the program has rated around 700 buildings so far, and about 40 per cent have not met requirements to attain RHF accessibility certified status.

Find more of our coverage on the Abbotsford School District here.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

CRD directors look for solutions to growing rural crime trend

“The bulk of these break and enters seem to be drug-fuelled,” CRD board chair Margo Wagner

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

CRIMESTOPPERS: Williams Lake RCMP seek public’s assistance

Williams Lake RCMP released three names of people they are looking for

Yearbook photo surfaces of Trudeau wearing ‘brownface’ costume in 2001

The report describes the occasion as an ‘Arabian Nights’-themed gala event

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

UPDATE: Police probe third threat against a Kamloops high school in eight days

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Most Read