CLBC helps shape Vancouver’s new Accessibility Strategy

Pictured: Vancouver Community Council and Community Members: Standing: James White, Menwoh Waines, Nooreen, Margaret Peebles, Spencer van Vloten, Vicki Wang, Matt, Lisa, Robbie Hsieh, Bruce Chang; Sitting: Vanessa Mendoza, Norine Chubb, Sienna Turton

The City of Vancouver’s new accessibility strategy was shaped in part by our Vancouver Community Council and the people CLBC serves.

Often accessibility conversations leave out people labelled with developmental disabilities, while focusing more on physical disabilities. When members of the CLBC Vancouver Community Council, and CLBC’s Integrated Service Manager (ISM) heard that the city was having consultations on accessibility, they knew that the people CLBC serves needed to have a say.

“Diversity was really important to me,” said Jean-Claude Ndungutse, ISM for Vancouver, who helped organize the consultation. “We made sure we had people who live independently in the community, people who live in a group home, people who live in home share and we made sure that there were people who are not necessarily using our services to have all their voices heard.”

City staff met with the CLBC Vancouver Community Council and other community members to hear how they could build a more inclusive community. The following were key takeaways from the consultation with the Community Council and community members:

  • Physical accessibility needs to provide equal access and maintain dignity. Alternative access is not equal access.
  • Ongoing partnerships should happen with people who have lived experience so the city can continue to learn from and promote the leadership and voice of people with disabilities
  • An accessibility strategy is only as useful as the tools it builds to enforce accountability

Many of the items that were brought up during the consultation were included in the final strategy. Spencer van Vloten, the Chair of the Vancouver Community Council noted that he saw the voices of the Community Council within the plan, especially where it considers the need to change the attitude of communities towards accessibility.

“Accessible spaces all stem from the views that society has towards accessibility. What’s present in this plan is the recognition that you need to get people to become accessible thinkers, to really welcome everyone in society and have them in mind when developing city and community spaces. Accessibility needs to be something you think about and really value. From that place comes physically accessible spaces, accessible information, and access to services.”

The work of CLBC staff and Vancouver’s Community Council in this instance directly supports one of the goal’s in CLBC’s new strategic plan: “Our actions advance inclusion and accessibility in the community.”

What are Community Councils?

A CLBC Community Council is a group of people who want to help make the community more inclusive by representing individual and family voices to CLBC and other bodies. There are 13 CLBC Community Councils around the province.

They are made up of self-advocates (people with lived experience), family members, service providers (people who are paid to give support), and other people from the community. Councils have three aims: 1)  to build inclusion in their community, 2) to help provide resources and support to families in the community, and 3) to provide input to CLBC about its programs and services via the Provincial Advisory Council.

“We’re in a world where we face people being rude towards individuals with disabilities all the time,” Vanessa Mendoza, Community Council member says, “and it’s time that those barriers get broken down. We need to bring more awareness to the issues that matter to us, to let people know that community councils are out there.”

One of the goals of community councils are to build awareness and understanding with people and organizations outside of the community living sector to work together on community building activities.

“I never thought I would be able to be as connected as I am,” Vanessa says, “but here I am now, and I’ve had a lot of input on a lot of things. It feels amazing to be able to have my opinion out there and know that it’s going to make an impact.”

Learn more about CLBC’s Community Councils online.

Read the City of Vancouver’s Accessibility Strategy online.




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