Meet Martin Courcelles, the person with “The right to be the first one in. Again.”

Why are you excited to join the #Access4All campaign?
This is somewhat full circle for me. During the Man in Motion World Tour, in 1987, Rick Hansen made a stop in my home town in Ste. Anne, Manitoba. I was honoured to be the first person in town to shake his hand. Now I’m happy to be part of a campaign focusing on greater accessibility for all Canadians. People on the set enjoyed spending time with my guide dog as well!

How has your life been affected by barriers due to your disability?
Access barriers are dependent on specific disabilities.  Mine is access to information, as I’m a blind individual. I incorporate access technology into my everyday life, at home and at work. One device is a screen reader, found on both computer and smart phones, that interprets various platforms into speech and braille. Talking devices such as clocks, thermometers, microwaves are quite prominent in my environment, often to the dismay of my wife.

What can Canadians do today to help improve accessibility for people with disabilities?
Instead of considering a person’s disability as a detriment, or as a barrier, why not see the individual as a fellow human? We aren’t spectacles, or something to shun. We all have talents and abilities and can contribute fully to society when we have the chance. When faced with an accessibility barrier, why not be a part of the solution? We need to see past the individual’s disability and find the ability within.

What do you imagine Canada would look like if everyone had equal access to our public spaces?
Right now, levels of accessibility vary from province to province.  In Ontario, I feel accessibility has improved, and I have found gainful employment within the field of accessibility. Other provinces have their own guidelines, but there is not yet a national universal accessibility standard. I think it’s imperative that we have such a standard, so that all Canadians with disabilities can live and travel freely in our country, without barriers.

Click here to see Martin featured in RHF's #Access4All video!


About the Author

Melanie Scott is the Marketing Communications Writer at the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Read more posts by Melanie Scott

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