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

Seawolves go for gold in B.C. provincials

Bantam Tier 4 Championship finals are at the Jim Ciccone arena on March 20

Lax Kxeen rises in Fraser Institute elementary schools rankings

Public Lax Kxeen and Roosevelt Park schools get first passing grades in over 10 years

Prince Rupert Tribesmen set to defend Junior All Native title

The top-seeded U17 team plays their first game of the 2019 tournament on March 19

Entrepreneurial girls cash in on record-breaking Rupert weather

Elementary students set up iced tea, lemonade stands before first day of spring

Prince Rupert RCMP Guns take the trophy

Guns hockey team beat the fire department, Hoses, for the first time in five years

Rumors to hit the Lester Centre stage this Thursday

Prince Rupert community cast and crew present Neil Simon’s two-act comedy from March 21-23

B.C. man sentenced for tying up, assaulting and robbing another man at hotel

Gabriel Stephen Nelson robbed and assaulted travelling businessman in Nanaimo in 2017

B.C. girl and her toy monkey make videos to fight negativity on Facebook

Ava Ast created the Ava and Cello’s Good Deed Page last month

Deadline extended through April to nominate top B.C. educators

Second year of Premier John Horgan’s awards offers $3,000 bursary

Paramedic staff shortage at critical level: B.C. union

A number of units were out of service due to lack of staffing in Lower Mainland, union says

B.C. lottery winner being sued by Surrey co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Fraser Health under fire again for taxiing homeless man from Langley to Hope

Patient sent to Hope shelter because a spot in the man’s home community couldn’t be located

Dead sea lion discovered on Hornby Island shoreline

Reports indicate animal was shot in the head

Celina Caesar-Chavannes quits Liberal caucus, sits as independent MP

The Whitby, Ont., MP has been a vocal supporter of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott

Most Read