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An Accessible Downtown

by Jamie Pritchard, Downtown Stratford BIA General Manager, member on City of Stratford’s Accessibility Advisory Committee

An Accessible Downtown Stratford

We all need an accessible downtown!! And it’s accessibility week (May 25 – June 1). When I sat down to write this piece, an Instagram post from @walking.on.wheels came to mind. I would like to share those thoughts with you today.

Accessibility is more than a ramp. This statement is quite thought-provoking as it’s human nature to relate almost any statement to our own situations. But this is where we need to expand our thinking.

I reviewed a few definitions of what accessibility means and the one I found that was most on point was this one:

“Accessibility means giving people of all abilities the opportunities to participate fully in everyday life.”

I was thinking how it relates to me and my challenges in walking — but again a broader scope encompasses more. We need to think about noise levels in an environment. Volume levels when speaking and presentation volume settings are so important to get right. When putting together an event, consider having amplified headphones, or a sign interpreter, for those that may require them.

Lighting for the sighted is of utmost importance. Does your documentation contain ordinary standard fonts? There is some evidence that an ordinary typeface is more readable than italics, slanted, small caps, or all caps. Avoid complicated or decorative fonts, and use for emphasis only. Is it possible to include braille on documents, signage, or dedication plaques? Do your videos, presentations, and social media campaigns include subtitles? 

Lastly, there may be challenges getting into your place of business. The shopability of a business will increase with items such as doorbells for assistance, power door openers, and ramps. Even though I began this post with “Accessibility is more than a ramp”, ramps are of paramount importance in many of our downtown businesses. There are challenges with heritage buildings and architecture, but challenges are not insurmountable and can be turned into opportunities.

What does it take to accomplish improved accessibility? It takes awareness, planning, and cooperation, with an overall umbrella of commitment. Together we can build Downtown Stratford’s reputation as the most accessible downtown in Ontario that welcomes all.

Your BIA is here for you and is always interested in your feedback. If you see me rollin along downtown on the silver ghost scooter please catch my attention, I would love to hear from you!  Email me at [email protected]

See you Downtown!


Jamie Pritchard, Downtown Stratford BIA's GM

For the past 2 years, Jamie Pritchard has been the General Manager of the Downtown BIA. Jamie comes from an extensive 45-year business management background in retail and wholesale operations. Circumstances have left him with limited walking Ability. As part of the City of Stratford’s AccessAbility Advisory Committee, Jamie recommends and advises the City Council on matters of improving opportunities for persons with disabilities. Jamie loves to go on a nightly scoot with his wife Cathy and 2 Keeshonds, Nova and Tarry. “Moving to Stratford was one of the top things that I Have done in life”.

 

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