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Creating Accessible and Inclusive Communities in the Elk Valley: Phase 1

Information About CAN
The Canadian Adaptive Network is a registered Society based in the Elk Valley.

VISION
CAN is a catalyst for creation of an inclusive society where people with functional limitations have equal opportunity to participate in activities of their choosing and be defined by who they are, rather than by what they can or cannot do.

MISSION
Build a collaborative network for the coordination of services, creation of effective communication, reinforcement of existing organizations, and provision of a gateway for information regarding best practices, standards for adaptive design, and flexible and diverse programs and facilities aimed at achieving readily recognizable and measurable change.
The purposes of CAN include:
• Fostering awareness of the needs of persons with functional limitations;
• Improving the quality of life for all persons, including persons with functional limitations;
• Increasing awareness of social issues, particularly for those persons with functional limitations;
• Engaging in educational activities to change perceptions of persons with functional limitations and to provide informational resources to persons with functional limitations; and,
• Providing networking opportunities for other organizations and individuals with similar purposes.

CAN: Everyone wants access.

Definitions
Functional limitations are defined as any way, mentally or physically, in which a person’s condition affects their ability to function on a day to day basis.
Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Disability is thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives (International Classification of Function - World Health Organization).

Debate continues regarding the use of the term “disability”; however, because of its broad definition as well as its widespread use in everyday language, CAN uses both “functional limitations” and “disability” in its communications.

Project Background
This application is for Phase 1 of a broader, multi-year, multi-community project. The goal of the broader project is to generate reliable information and increase awareness in order to produce improvements in accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities in the Elk Valley and, eventually, the rest of the East Kootenays and beyond.

Project Goals and Objectives
The goals of Phase 1 are to achieve greater understanding and awareness of barriers to participation in community life by people with disabilities and to identify opportunities for greater inclusion through social and physical accessibility improvements. The objectives of Phase 1 are: (1) Assess and distribute information on the quality, accessibility and affordability of existing facilities and services in Fernie and nearby RDEK Area A locations against national and global standards; (2) Collect and evaluate information on how persons with disabilities or functional limitations participate in meaningful activities in Fernie, Area A RDEK, Elkford and Sparwood (3) increase awareness among school students, teachers and parents; and, (4) identify accessibility gaps to be filled. Objective (4) will include identification of economic and social benefits of specific accessibility and inclusion projects.

Phase 1 Outcomes
Skills
• Three CAN members will become Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification professionals
• Project team members will learn and apply mapping skills for production of on-line map products
• Fernie and RDEK personnel will learn from the CAN deliverables about compliance and gaps related to relevant human rights and accessibility legislation, regulations, and Universal Design standards
• Fernie and RDEK planning and construction personnel will learn from the CAN deliverables about planning, designing, and constructing the social and physical environment from the perspective of people with disabilities.

Knowledge
• Officials and the public will better understand the current accessibility situation in Fernie and nearby locations in RDEK Area A
• School students, teachers and parents in Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford will have increased awareness regarding the need to create inclusive and accessible communities
• Officials and the public will learn about the social and economic benefits of increased accessibility
• The online accessibility tool can become a tool for continuous improvement

Behaviour
• Increased awareness will influence officials and business owners and lead them to incorporate social and physical accessibility into their plans
• Increased public awareness will elevate the issue of accessibility and inclusion in public discourse and the political process
• increased public awareness will improve the quality of social interactions for people with disabilities due to changes in the public’s attitude

Phase 1 Deliverables

1. Accessibility database and map for the City of Fernie and nearby areas of RDEK Area A
2. Documentary film showings with discussions at Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford schools; the film features a CAN board member, Grace Brulotte, as she heli-skis – illustrating what people with disabilities can do. Questions from students as well as their reactions will be noted and reported.
3. Literature review of inclusive communities, social and physical accessibility and definitions and standards resource list.
4. Research Report - “How do persons with disabilities or functional limitations participate in meaningful activities in Fernie, Area A RDEK, Elkford and Sparwood?”
5. A report which presents accessibility gaps and opportunities for improvement in the City of Fernie and nearby areas of RDEK Area A.

Measures of Success
• Several other organizations collaborate with CAN
• Funding for Phase 1 is obtained from additional sources
• Acceptance of the findings of Phase 1 by health care professionals and by individuals with functional limitations
• Fernie and RDEK Area A decision-makers accept and apply the findings of Phase 1
• The online accessibility resource is widely used and people provide input to the resource for continuous improvement
• The project leads to completed accessibility and inclusion projects in Fernie and RDEK Area A
• Future funding for the next phase of the overall project is obtained

Project Methods

Accessibility Assessment

CAN personnel who have obtained their Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification will conduct the assessment of accessibility in the City of Fernie and nearby locations in RDEK Area A (e.g., Fernie Alpine Resort, Island Lake Lodge, Mount Fernie Provincial Park). Public buildings and spaces and commercial buildings will be the focus of the assessment. Information will be captured in real time using portable electronic devices such as tablets and transferred to a standardized database. The database format will be chosen from among readily available, practical, and flexible database frameworks available free or at low cost. Information from the database will be transferred to on-line resource tools which can be accessed from mobile phones, tablets, and computers.

Literature Review and Interviews
The research component of Phase 1 will consist of a literature review and key informant interviews.
The research question is “How do persons with disabilities or functional limitations participate in meaningful activities in the Elk Valley?”

Relevant literature will be reviewed to obtain standard accessibility guidelines to determine how other communities (globally) have developed an inclusive society. The review will consider the economic and social benefits of inclusion using a social model of disability and a rights-based approach as theoretical frameworks.
Twenty key informant interviews will be conducted with key stakeholders selected from a stakeholder map of the study area. The stakeholder map will include health care professionals, people with disabilities, and family members. A questionnaire will be developed using accepted qualitative research methods. The questionnaire will generate information on how persons with disabilities and functional limitations participate, or do not participate in the community.

Interview results will be analysed to identify emerging and recurring themes of participation and barriers to participation by using thematic content analysis. Thematic content analysis interprets qualitative data by counting how many times a recurring theme appears in the narratives from interviews. It is also sensitive to outlier narratives that can often unlock hidden ideas.
The analysis of interview results will be the basis of recommendations to strengthen local policy and fill policy gaps. Theories about participation that can be transferred to other communities in the Elk Valley will also be developed.

“Film Screenings of “I’mpossible”at Schools

“I’mpossible” demonstrates how perspective can be the catalyst in reaching new heights. From moving metaphorical mountains to challenging the Southern BC Rocky and Purcell Mountain Ranges, Grace Brulotte shows us that disability is just a variation of the human experience. Follow an inspirational journey, captured through the lens of Laundromat Studios, as Grace becomes the first female tandem sit skier to Heli ski in Canada.” Kyle Hamilton is the cinematographer and the production received great support from the community of Fernie. The film features Fernie Alpine Resort, Fernie Wilderness Adventures, and Purcell Heliskiing.
The objective of the film screenings is to shift attitudes towards people with disabilities, and show they can do anything they set their minds to, just like anyone else. The film is not just about heliskiing and making history, it is about showing that those with disabilities are able to achieve a full life, however they see it. “I’mpossible” is about the struggle, the challenges faced and conquered, and the goals achieved that people said were unattainable. The film screening will be followed by games that simulate different disabilities. Students will be “given” autism, a spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, a visual impairment, etc. The experience will centre around perspective, and how inclusion and acceptance begin when perspective changes and people view each other as humans. Grace Brulotte will give a motivational speech followed, if time permits, by a Q and A session. Schools we’d like to include are Isabella Dicken Elementary School, Fernie Secondary School, Max Turyk (French School), College of the Rockies, The Fernie Academy, Frank J Mitchell Elementary School, Sparwood Secondary School, Rocky Mountain Elementary School, Elkford Secondary School, and Jaffray Elementary/Jr Secondary School. Feedback received during the screenings will be documented.

Additional Potential Funding Sources
CAN has not yet approached other funding sources; however, we intend to do so. Potential funders identified to date are:
• Columbia Basin Trust Social Grants
• Teck
• BC Hydro
• Vancouver Foundation
• East Kootenay Credit Union

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