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

Renowned piano player to headline Peach Festival

Ben Waters, performing at Penticton Peach Festival, has hit the stage with The Rolling Stones

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Friday last day before rain and clouds return

Environement Canada forcasts a sunny Friday, but darker weekend days

Festival planned for Easter weekend

Organizers preparing 10,000 eggs for hunt at Summerland’s Easter Egg-stravaganza

Behind the mask of the South Okanagan furries community

Penticton furries community member said it’s not a sexual thing

Summerland experiences effects of sudden warm temperatures

Water pools near sports fields; minor landslide affects Garnet Valley Road as snow melts

Foodie Friday: crocodile pizza at Bad Tattoo

Take a trip down under and try the Penticton brewery’s newest creation

Cheetahs will not prosper in Creston: Permit rejected for two big cats

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Rat problem arises in the Shuswap

Traps repeatedly selling out as Chase residents deal with unwelcome rodents

GM announces jobs, electric vehicle after Trump criticism

The company says it will spend $300 million at its plant in Orion Township

Explore the sunken treasures of the Shuswap

Divers explore historic boats and a Ford Model T that broke through lake ice while on a delivery

Trucker who caused Broncos crash likely to be deported: lawyer

The Crown has asked that Sidhu serve 10 years in prison

World Water Day: Special challenge issued to youth to be climate conscious

Friday, March 22, the Okanagan Basin Water Board is issuing a special challenge

China chemical plant blast kills 47, injures hundreds more

This is one of China’s worst industrial accidents in recent years

Montreal priest stabbed while celebrating morning mass

The incident happened Friday morning at Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory

Most Read