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“I’m proud to work in this building”: Celebrating Dalhousie’s commitment to accessibility

Posted by Stephanie Brown on June 21, 2019 in Innovation

Dozens of students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in Dalhousie's Collaborative Health Education Building (CHEB) on Wednesday to recognize the building's accessibility. The CHEB is the first building in eastern Canada to receive the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification.

(photo: Danny Abriel)

The CHEB was assessed by students as part of an auditing program run by Dalhousie's Department of Facilities Management as they prepare to comply with the province's Accessibility Act — aiming to increase accessibility in the province by 2030. In that process, they realized the building was eligible for the certification.

Part of history

Dr. Cheryl Kozey, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Health, welcomed guests to the event, explaining the building's true collaborative nature, as it is shared by the Faculties of Health, Medicine and Dentistry.

(photo: Danny Abriel)

The Honourable Kevin Murphy, Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, emphasized that Dalhousie is a leader in improving accessibility in the province.

"You're part of history in Nova Scotia," Murphy said. "Job well done."

Excited to see what the future holds

Michelle Mahoney, the receptionist at the Centre for Collaborative Clinical Learning and Research (CCCLR) in the CHEB shared her experiences working in the building.

(photo: Danny Abriel)

"I live with a disability and I witness how inaccessible the rest of the world is on a daily basis."

Mahoney explained that she had worked in the oldest building on campus, and what a difference it makes to now be in the newest building with many accessible features.

Mahoney said this certification was a promising sign for things to come for campus.

"I'm very proud to work in this building."

Participating without barriers

Participants were able to tour the building to see what aspects were assessed as part of the certification. Siobhan Evans, the Accessibility Planning Specialist with Facilities Management, showcased many features including:

  • The visible and audible features in the elevator
  • Desks with adjustable heights in the Kellogg library
  • Large accessible washrooms
  • The Simulation suite which Occupational Therapy students use to practice working with patients with disabilities in their home environments.

(photo: Danny Abriel)

Evans participated in the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification Program, and helped create the audit for the university. She said she's proud of the work Dalhousie is putting in to remove barriers.

"Anyone should be able to participate fully in society regardless of ability," Evans said. "This is a symbol of hope."

The student assessors asked participants to identify some of Dalhousie's biggest barriers in the built environment, and what accessibility means to them.

Dalhousie will continue to audit campus and will use the data to determine priorities for the 2030 deadline.