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City of Brantford hosted AccessAbility Expo on June 1

City of BrantfordCity of Brantford hosted AccessAbility Expo on June 1

City of Brantford hosted an AccessAbility Expo at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre on Saturday, June 1, 2024.

The Expo, in partnership with local organization and accessibility advocates, provided a platform for community members to network, learn about available resources, and celebrate the ongoing efforts to make Brantford more accessible with the 2024 Accessibility Awards ceremony that honoured the following individuals and organizations:

Shawn Erb, representing Friendship House received the Accessibility award as a result of his leadership in two transformative accessibility build projects. The first involved constructing an outdoor concrete ramp, eliminating the need for portable ramps at the main entrance. The second project focused on creating a fully accessible oversized washroom with essential safety features. By removing physical barriers and enhancing facilities, the organization has significantly improved accessibility and dignity for their clients.

Food Basics on King George Rd, led by Manager John de Pencier and his dedicated staff, was nominated twice this year for the Accessibility Award in the Customer Service category for their exceptional support of blind and visually impaired individuals. Through collaboration with the Orientation and Mobility department at the W. Ross Macdonald School for the blind, the store has become a vital resource in teaching students essential grocery shopping skills. Their kindness, patience, and willingness to assist have transformed what could be a challenging experience into one of empowerment and independence for students. By treating each interaction with respect and empathy, the staff at Food Basics have not only helped students navigate the aisles, but have also fostered a sense of confidence and self-esteem that extends beyond the store.

Tom Bentley, the Coordinator of Community Engagement at the Brantford Public Library, also received the Accessibility Award in the Customer Service category for his exceptional support of persons with disabilities. In July 2023, Mr. Bentley played a pivotal role in facilitating services for a visually impaired student, to help write an exam. Through effective communication with Athabasca University, Mr. Bentley ensured that the student received the necessary accommodations, including the use of their own laptop with disability software. This dedication to understanding and meeting the unique needs of individuals with disabilities extends throughout the Brantford Public Library staff, who consistently provide dignified and respectful assistance to patrons with disabilities, creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.

Amanda Henze, founder of Tailor Aide, received the Accessibility Award in the Customer Service category for her dedication to providing tailored clothing solutions for individuals with physical disabilities. Through Tailor Aide’s pick-up and delivery service, Amanda specializes in crafting accessible and adaptive clothing, accessories, and medical device modifications, empowering clients to regain independence and comfort in their apparel choices. Drawing on personal experience and a background in personal support work, Amanda approaches each client with creativity, empathy, and a deep understanding of their unique needs. Tailor Aide’s commitment to inclusivity extends beyond individual clients, with partnerships established with retirement communities and organizations such as War Amps to ensure accessibility and raise awareness for various medical conditions through sponsored events and community engagement initiatives.

By the very nature of their mandateCrossing All Bridges Learning Centre (CABLC) is a champion of inclusivity and empowerment for individuals with developmental disabilities in Brantford. Over two decades, CABLC has evolved from a modest start to a vibrant hub of learning and community engagement. The Centre provides crucial post-education support, offering programs in life skills, socialization, and employment training, serving over 90 participants. Through innovative initiatives such as the Digital Innovation program and after-hours events including the Monday Night Dance Party, CABLC fosters independence and choice, empowering participants with limited speech and motor skills. Moreover, the Centre actively integrates participants into the community, partnering with local businesses and institutions to offer volunteer opportunities and cultural experiences, while advocating for accessibility and inclusion through social media and educational outreach. With its commitment to continuous improvement and collaboration with educators, CABLC exemplifies dedication to enhancing accessibility and enriching the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Another highlight of the Expo was the debut of the video “A Day in the Life – Understanding Accessibility in our City,” featuring Brantford City officials participating in simulations designed to replicate the experiences of individuals with disabilities. This video captures their learnings and the City’s commitment to action. Mayor Kevin Davis, along with Councillors Rose Sicoli, Mandy Samwell, and Linda Hunt, took part in these exercises to better understand the daily challenges faced by residents with disabilities.

“I strongly believe that understanding the challenges faced by our fellow citizens with disabilities is key to creating effective solutions. That’s why, I, along with fellow members of Council, participated in a revealing series of simulations whereby we put ourselves in the shoes of someone experiencing a disability,” explained Kevin Davis, Mayor for the City of Brantford. “These exercises allowed us to experience firsthand the daily obstacles that many of our fellow residents encounter. From improving infrastructure to enhancing public services, we’re determined to ensure that every resident has the opportunity to navigate and enjoy our city without facing obstacles.”

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