Darby Lee Young started her accessibility consultation business in 2015. Level Playing Field works to remove barriers and create a more accessible world. As an accessibility expert with lived experience as a person with a disability, Young wanted to learn as much as she could, which included taking Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility CertificationTM (RHFAC) Training.
The RHFAC Training course teaches individuals how to use the RHFAC methodology to rate buildings on their level of meaningful access for people living with physical disabilities affecting their hearing, vision, and mobility. Upon successful completion and passing the subsequent RHFAC Professional exam, individuals will obtain their RHFAC Professional designation, qualifying them to conduct RHFAC ratings for existing buildings and pre-construction plans.
“A lot of people are interested in obtaining RHF Accessibility Certification for their projects. It brings in a lot of work to me as an individual and us at Level Playing Field,” Young said.
Young has worked on a variety of projects as an RHFAC Professional including the Parkdale Community Rink: the first outdoor rink to achieve RHFAC Gold in Canada.
“We worked with LOLA Architecture in reviewing the drawings and commenting on accessibility features,” Young explained. “We did site audits to make sure it was as accessible as possible.”
The community rink opened in January 2022, and is a site where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the space to its full potential. The rink also won the City of Calgary’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility Universal Design Award for 2022.
Another project Young is working on is conducting RHFAC ratings at all 180 buildings on the University of Manitoba campus – a combined area of over six million square feet.
“We are providing recommendations and building information so the client can determine what accessibility features work, which don’t meet the standard, and what to improve so that they can develop a prioritization strategy,” Young said.
Beginning with the request for proposal process, Young has also been involved with the aquatic center project in Yellowknife, NWT. Through a variety of site visits, she id using her RHFAC knowledge to participate on the design, construction and the public engagement process so far.
She will continue to be engaged as the project progresses in the hopes of developing an accessible aquatic center for all to enjoy.
Access for All
To Young, accessibility means “there is hope for independence.”
"I’m a very independent person and I like to do things myself. When I can’t get into a space, it’s very frustrating,” Young said. “Accessibility is important for people with disabilities to get out and be involved in every aspect of society.”
Accessibility must account for so many different disabilities. Considerations are vast and must be incorporated in tandem to create a universally accessible space.
“My biggest goal is getting people to understand that there is more to accessibility than just those using a wheelchair.” Young said.
“Whether it’s in life, work, or your community. We need to see people as people rather than as their disability.”