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VML Canada and Rick Hansen foundation collaborate for new campaign

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 4:29 PDT, Fri May 24, 2024

Last Updated: 10:44 PDT, Mon May 27, 2024


In honour of National AccessAbility Week starting May 26, VML Canada, in partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF), have launched a new national campaign to raise awareness of the urgent need for improved accessibility in Canada.

One in four Canadians with a disability in Canada continue to face accessibility barriers daily, an issue that needs to be urgently addressed if Canada is going to meet its goal of a barrier-free country by January 1, 2040.

The campaign creative idea "Just because we can, doesn't mean we should have to" explores the notion that just because people with disabilities can overcome multiple barriers throughout their day, they shouldn't have to.

One of the PSA executions features local Burnaby B.C. resident, Leo Sammarelli, who sustained a spinal cord injury and subsequently taught himself how to climb stairs in his wheelchair to get to his girlfriend's apartment. Another features Paralympian Tara Llanes who also often finds herself figuring out how to navigate barriers when there is no other option.

Beyond the barriers faced by wheelchair users, the campaign uses digital, animated outdoor, print and radio to highlight other examples of inaccessibility—such as lip reading without proper lighting, navigating intersections without audio cues, and maintaining focus in chaotic environments with neurodivergence.

"Through working with the Rick Hansen Foundation, we learned that all too often people are left o their own devices to overcome accessibility barriers. This not only inspired the creative execution, it also gave us a new appreciation for what the foundation fights for." says Jake Hope, creative director at VML Canada.

A national charity dedicated to removing barriers through accessibility education, training, and certification programs, RHF is committed to helping change design culture and remove barriers to accessibility in our communities, schools and workplaces. Its programs help people with varying disabilities affecting their mobility, vision and hearing and include considerations for neurodiversity.

"Getting the importance of accessibility on the radar of Canadians continues to be a challenge even though 64 per cent of Canadians have a disability or live with/take care of someone with a disability," says Sarah McCarthy, vice president of strategic initiatives at RHF.

"We're incredibly grateful to our long-time pro-bono partners at VML Canada for helping find ways to break through the noise and bring this critically important conversation to the forefront."

The integrated campaign launches today and includes Public Service Announcements in television, radio, outdoor, print, and digital, thanks to the generosity of national in-kind media partners Corus Entertainment, OUTEDGE Media, and The Globe and Mail. The campaign will also air in Chinese, thanks to support of the Fairchild Group.

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