Rick Hansen Foundation Fall 2017 Newsletter

Renee By Renee On November 20, 2017 RHF News

The latest updates on Rick Hansen Foundation programs and initiatives for Fall 2017.


Jump to section:

1. Guest message
2. Rick has a new book!
3. Accessibility in BC
4. How ratings work
5. Life-changing training
6. Your survey results
7. Accessible neighbourhoods
8. Sign Up for E-News!

For our readers with visual impairments, you can download the accessible version of the RHF Fall 2017 Newsletter.

Guest message

Hello! My name is Brad McCannell. Some of you may remember my first update in March 2016 about the need for accessibility in Canada. Today, I’m excited to share the solutions.

But first, let me describe the challenge.

For the first time in Canada, there are now more people aged 65 and over than there are aged 15 and younger.

An aging population means more Canadians will have disabilities affecting their mobility, vision, and hearing. Making Canada accessible for people with disabilities matters.

A building or public space that has a high level of meaningful access considers the needs of people of every age, stage, and ability. Everyone is included - children, parents, older adults, and seniors.

Your Fall Newsletter will show you how we can make accessibility happen.

When the built environment takes into account the full lifespan of people, and all our individual needs along the way, we make our communities truly sustainable. With your support and partnership, an accessible Canada can be a reality for all Canadians.

Thank you!

 Brad McCannell, Vice President, Access and Inclusion



Rick has a new book!

Thirty years after making history with his Man In Motion World Tour, Rick has released 30 years later: A Celebration of Courage, Strength and the Power of Community by Jake MacDonald. This special coffee table book includes never-before-seen photos and stories from Rick and his team.

A look back on a seemingly impossible dream, this book will inspire you to believe that anything is possible. Get your copy online today at Indigo or Amazon!



Accessibility in BC

The Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) is committed to removing barriers to accessibility in the built environment. The long-term goal is to make the places where we live, work, learn, and play fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2050.

Thanks to the vision and generous support of the BC Government, we’re moving one step closer to realizing this goal.

Starting this October, the RHF Accessibility CertificationTM (RHFAC) team is conducting 1,100 free accessibility ratings for non-profit and commercial, institutional, or multi-family residential buildings within BC until March 2019.

Additionally, the RHF BC Accessibility Grants Program will provide $4 million for approved accessibility upgrades by March 2020. That means approximately 200 rated buildings and public spaces can apply for up to $20,000 in funding to make accessibility improvements.

As a partner in the vision for a fully accessible Canada, your support is vital to this initiative. If you know of a non-profit organization or business in BC that cares about improving accessibility, encourage them to check out rickhansen.com/RHFAC to book a rating and apply for funding.

The RHF team has an ambitious goal and a strong plan. With your support, we can improve accessibility and inclusion in BC – and eventually Canada – starting with accessibility ratings!



How ratings work

How is accessibility rated?

  • The Rick Hansen Foundation team trains people, including those with disabilities, through our new professional course offered for the first time this fall at Vancouver Community College. Trained assessors then take an exam administered by the CSA Group to become RHFAC Professionals.
  • Using an accessibility rating scorecard, RHFAC Professionals rate the overall user experience of a building or public space like pathways, entrances, hallways, and washrooms. Points are allocated for each feature using a comprehensive rating scale.
  • Points on the scorecard determine the rating score of the location and its corresponding certification level:
    Rating Score  Certification Level 
     80%+  RHF Accessibility Certified Gold
     60%-79%  RHF Accessibility Certified
     Below 60%  Does not meet RHFAC requirements for certification
  • The scorecard also notes key areas of success and what each building or public space can do to improve its accessibility.
  • The owners or managers of the buildings or public spaces can then choose to publicly showcase their certification level on the online RHFAC Registry, hosted by the CSA Group. They can even purchase a site label or plaque to showcase that their location is fully accessible!

Your donations help fund innovative solutions in making Canada accessible. Please spread the word with those in your life who care about this cause.



Life-changing training

We’re thrilled to announce an exciting partnership between RHF and Vancouver Community College.

We developed a new, two-week training program that prepares participants, including people with disabilities, to conduct accessibility ratings using the RHFAC criteria. After completing the course, participants need to write and pass an exam administered by CSA Group to become a designated RHFAC Professionals.

Seventeen participants took part in the inaugural training program from September 25 to October 6, 2017. Read Josh’s experience below.

“One could say that this experience was life changing, but it’s more than that. It’s going to change the lives of so many more people, allowing them a greater freedom within the built environment, and more inclusion into the social activities of regular life. The impact of this inclusion results in more than just simple access, but in solid numbers, actual dollar amounts. Not only do I now have the knowledge to change the world, but the drive and passion to follow through with it.” – Josh, Trainee

The momentum is building, and your ongoing partnership is vital to this training program expanding across the country. Thank you!



Your survey results

Wow! 159 supporters completed and returned the spring survey on giving with inspiring results. You are all “super donors” – dedicated to making a positive impact through the charities and non-profits that you support.

  • 100% of respondents give to other charities, with over 60% giving to 11 or more charities!
  • The causes the majority of you support are health, child welfare and the environment.
  • 96% of respondents love our newsletter!

Your generosity and commitment to improving our world is truly inspirational. Thank you!

We also want to share three anonymous answers on what inspired a donor’s first gift to the Rick Hansen Foundation:

“One of the reasons [I give] is because I feel that in some way I’ve known Rick for a long time, ever since he started racing around the country. I felt then and now, like he’s part of my family and I’m 83.”

“This foundation demonstrates that every life matters. Each one of us has the skills to contribute to the wellbeing of others. Our lives will just keep getting better when we support each other.”

“Because of the problems I read about re: accessibility to many public spaces. Also have friends who have the same barriers.”



Accessible neighbourhoods

RHF, in support of the Canadian Institute for the Blind (CNIB), provided an Access4All Barrier Buster grant to make the new CNIB Community Hub more inclusive.

Located in the Yonge and St. Clair area in Toronto, the Hub is installing BlindSquare navigation beacons in the surrounding retail area, in cooperation with local businesses.

This is how the technology works: Beacons are set-up in the neighbourhood that link to the BlindSquare app on users’ phones. When someone arrives at their destination, the beacon relays detailed information about the surrounding environment. For example, a restaurant beacon may describe the location of tables, washrooms, or staircases. This gives people who are blind or have low vision the knowledge they need to travel safely.

The app also impacts people with mobility or cognitive disabilities who need help with way-finding. People with autism who aren’t comfortable interacting with others can use the app to find places on their own.

“We’re so grateful for this funding from the Rick Hansen Foundation. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Businesses love that it’s helping people who are Blind or partially sighted, it’s free, and it’s something that hasn’t been done before,” says Kat Clarke, Advocacy Lead (GTA) and Specialist, Government Relations (ON) for the CNIB.

Currently, over 40 beacons are in place, with the goal to grow to 200 beacons to make “the Yonge and St. Clair neighbourhood the most accessible neighborhood in Canada.”

“It’s heartwarming to hear from people who’ve lived here all these years who were not always aware of what places were around them until the beacons were put in,” says Kat. “They’re getting an experience of the neighbourhood they’ve never had before.”

To learn more about this CNIB project, visit their website.

You can read updates about the other inspirational Access4All Barrier Buster projects on our Access4All Projects Showcase.

The Rick Hansen Foundation team is deeply grateful to the Government of Canada for their funding and support of this unique Access4All Barrier Buster grant program celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday. Thank you!




We would love to keep you updated on the innovative work you support. Sign-up for e-news to receive updates by Rick, news about program innovations, and so much more!

If you read something that inspires you, please share it. Sharing information and knowledge helps raise awareness, and when we’re aware, we can change the world!

Your donation helps young people create an inclusive world and make a difference in their communities. Thank you.



About the Author

Renee Eaton is the Director of Community Giving at the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Next Story

Stay in Touch

Receive Foundation emails to stay up-to-date on our impact and programs.