Celebrating our participants in the National Accessibility Week challenge
June 22, 2020
GUELPH, Ontario – Earlier this month as part of National Accessibility Week, we invited classrooms to share their thoughts and solutions to the accessibility barriers that some people are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During this week long contest, the Upper Grand District School Board saw many participants with great ideas. Some highlights include:
Olivia from Elora Public School is concerned about families having to attend newborn checkups in high risk doctors’ offices. She indicated that in Australia, doctors and nurses have been going to people’s homes to do the checkups to limit risk for babies. She suggested this would be something that could work in Canada as well.
Skyler from Centre Dufferin District High School is concerned for those living in seniors’ homes because they are not allowed to leave the building and, in some cases, cannot leave their room. Skyler suggested providing seniors with tablets or devices, so that they could Facetime with their loved ones while they are confined to the building to help them feel less isolated.
Ms. Fedele’s grade 2 class at Central Public School is concerned with all the stairs in Guelph. The class suggested that the stairs have always posed an accessibility issue, but now due to social distancing, many people cannot get the help they need while they navigate these stairs. Their solution to the concern is that during the pandemic, all buildings that do not have a lift, should be outfitted with chair lifts or elevators.
At John Galt Public School, Noemia Barroso’s grade 2 class is concerned with the use of gloves while trying to read braille. A student in the class saw first hand the effects of wearing gloves while trying to read braille. The student said she was on an elevator with her Mom and neighbour and the neighbour could not feel the braille on the elevator buttons with his gloves on. The classes solution to this issue is creating an elevator that has a function similar to Google Home where you can just speak out loud the floor number you wish to get to. This would limit how many people are touching the buttons and would remove the barrier of not being able to read braille on elevators while wearing gloves.
Student Nick at East Garafraxa Public School is concerned with those who are claustrophobic while wearing masks, which are now mandatory in our region. He suggested having someone assist them while they are shopping or provide them with a sticker or vest that indicates the person cannot wear a mask and to please maintain social distancing around them.
The UGDSB received many submissions than those previously listed, but unfortunately could only choose one winner. This year’s challenge winner was Rebecca Nixon’s grade 8 class at Credit Meadows Elementary School.
Nixon’s class submitted a document that outlined many challenges during the pandemic for the hearing impaired, visually impaired, physically impaired, those suffering from mental health concerns and other accessibility concerns that people may be facing during the pandemic. Some highlights of their submission include:
- Creating a mask that has a clear window over the mouth so that the hearing impaired can continue to read lips.
- Creating a thin, yet still safe, glove for those who rely on reading braille.
- For those who rely on a seeing eye dog, having people at the grocery stores designated to walk with the dog and their owner, as seeing eye dogs are not trained to follow the arrows on the floor in the stores.
- Creating a program of volunteers, social workers and doctors to visit those with physical disabilities who may be living on their own and do not have regular access to home care due to physical distancing.
- Creating more online supports for those who are suffering from mental health issues during this pandemic.
As the winning class, student’s in Ms. Nixon’s class will be getting a video call from Paralympian Patrick Anderson, the greatest Wheelchair Basketball player in the world.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s challenge, your ideas and solutions were inspirational and it was very difficult to choose just one winner.
Participants should be very proud of themselves!