THE BLOG

What I Would Change About Accessibility for People with Disabilities in Canada

06/28/2013 04:58 EDT | Updated 08/29/2013 05:12 EDT

Leading up to Canada Day, the Huffington Post blog team asked prominent Canadians what they would change about one aspect of our country. We are publishing their answers in our series "What I'd Change About Canada" leading up to July 1. You can find the full series here.

My goal has always been to build an even greater awareness of our need to move from a view that accessibility is just about getting in and out of buildings to a view of intentionally designing and creating fully inclusive communities, so that people with disabilities can fully participate. From Cornerbrook to Victoria, we need to work together to create national standards which will allow that to happen, and uphold our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

From those guidelines, we will be able to mobilize the massive partnerships that are necessary, from government, to community leaders, people with disabilities, their families and friends, the private sector, NGOs and the general public -- to all work together to build the fully inclusive and accessible Canada that we aspire to through our Charter, where no one is left behind.

We have come a long way in the past 25 years in this area, and there is a lot of progress to celebrate. I was honoured to see that progress and to meet 7,000 Difference Makers from across the country, coast to coast, during our 25th Anniversary of the Man In Motion World Tour. All of these people are working every day towards our vision of an inclusive world. We still have a long way to go and I would like to see Canada set the bar even higher and continue on this ultra marathon of social change. Let's continue along this journey together, and with a sense of urgency so that we liberate the millions of people with disabilities in Canada who just want to be part of everyday life, just like anyone else.

As the baby boom generation continues to age and acquire many disabling conditions, let's prepare for the political, social and economic consequences that will come from the needs of those masses.

At the Rick Hansen Foundation, we are proud to have developed a new innovation that takes advantage of the latest technologies to close that gap. Planat.com is a website that rates the accessibility of buildings and public spaces around the world. The website allows people with disabilities to quickly find out how accessible a building is, while business owners can use the website to promote their venue's accessibility to a growing number of clients in need of that information.

While planat is already populated with 17,000 venues in 20 countries, please log on to planat.com to provide your user reviews.

Planat also connects Canada and the rest of the world so people who travel from Sydney to Vancouver, Beijing to Toronto, or Tokyo to St. Johns, all have a reliable accessibility resource so they can take full advantage and live a full and inclusive life. It's my hope that every city and town will be part of planat.

What I Would Change About Canada