July has been proclaimed Accessibility Awareness Month in Grande Prairie, aimed at helping residents understand what life is like for people with disabilities. Accessibility Advisory Committee member Bobby Weir says that can be as simple as knowing how to greet someone who is visually impaired.
“Just identifying yourself if you’re there, because someone with vision loss may not see you, so saying, ‘hello, good morning,’ to just identify that you’re there and approaching them so they’ll know exactly where you are.”
Grande Prairie has made great strides in becoming more accessible, like getting funding for audible pedestrian signals, and moving sidewalk garbage bins so people walking don’t have to step into the street. There’s still lots of room for improvement, however, as Weir notes that many businesses still aren’t accessible to people in wheelchairs, along with hotel rooms.
“There’s a lot of new businesses opening up; sometimes they may not even be accessible. There may be a step to get in to those businesses; when you use a wheelchair, you can’t do steps, right? This month is basically our focus to bring awareness on what it’s like.”
An event at the Eastlink Centre is being held on July 23rd with activities that will simulate different impairments. Residents who visit the facility this month can also try their sport with an impairment, like in a wheelchair.