Photo courtesy YVR
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has earned the world’s first Accessibility Certified Gold certification.
It’s not only the highest level of certification, but YVR has the highest-rated building in the program.
There are currently 1,100 buildings being rated by the Richmond-based Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) certification program on accessibility for people with varying kinds and degrees of disabilities that can affect mobility, vision, hearing or cognition.
Craig Richmond, CEO and President of the airport authority, says accessibility should be seamless, something that everyone can use without even noticing. He also says it is better to design in accessibility than to try to retrofit it after the fact.
Brad McCannell, the foundation’s vice president of access and inclusion, points out that many won’t see the special design features. The centre space of all counters is low enough for a wheel chair and has room for the person’s legs under the counter, be it food service or an information kiosk.
McCannell further points out the location of the departures and arrivals signage at the top of the escalators leading to international departures. The signs were high enough for everyone to see, low enough that people could go right up to them, and out of the way so those stopping to read the signs were not blocking traffic. Also, the screens can display paging announcements so those who cannot hear them clearly, will see them in large letters.
McCannell says someone told him they didn’t notice any special things for accessibility at YVR. He replied, “Good. That’s the way it should be. That’s inclusion, when no one is separated out. It’s inclusion for all.”
Craig Richmond says that accessibility isn’t just the right thing to do; it is good business.
With 15 per cent of the population living with a disability, Richmond says that particularly as our population ages, we will need to be more attentive to customers.
Calling the gold rating key to YVR’s success as a world-class transportation hub, he says it’s a “testament to our ongoing efforts to better serve our passengers, partners and communities.”