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

Trial dates set for three men accused of 2017 killing near Hope

Lawyers for the accused appeared in Kelowna at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday

Abbotsford council OKs bus-to-SkyTrain plan

Fraser Valley Express would begin running to Lougheed Station by start of 2021

Wildfire threatens weekend campers at Chehalis Lake

The fire started on the north side of Chehalis Lake Saturday

Chilliwack car show cancelled due to weather forecast

Popular Village Classic car show will not be rescheduled, say organizers

Agassiz author pens a kingly book

Long-time writer and producer Alexander Hamilton-Brown just finished his first novel

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

New Lower Mainland bistro caters to board game fans and families

Local food and games at every table is the formula for the new business

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Top B.C. court upholds ruling that struck down indefinite solitary confinement

Feds had appealed ruling in case brought by B.C. Civil Liberties Association, John Howard Society

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

B.C. students’ camping trip goes ahead despite tents getting stolen

Nanaimo businesses, school staff and parents ensure trip goes on

Only legal pot shop between Vancouver and Kamloops now open

Private cannabis store on Skwah land in Chilliwack is first B.C. licensee to be Indigenous owned

Most Read