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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Learn about bees, bears, birds and bugs at Maple Ridge farm

Event to take place at Deep Roots Family Farm

Old Pitt Meadows Fire Hall reduced to rubble

New building will be more than three times the size, and is expected to be completed by 2022

Maple Ridge movie industry almost back to “normal”

City of Maple Ridge film production liaison “swamped with productions”

Ridge Meadows RCMP announce detachment’s biggest drug, weapons and cash bust

Five month investigation resulted in large fentanyl seizure

Pitt Meadows woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

BCSPCA partners with Crime Stoppers

Many call in to the SPCA, but want to remain anonymous: Eccles

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

We were a bit tone deaf: Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Most Read