JUSTICE: Strategies to make Nova Scotia accessible by 2030
Education, buildings and shared spaces in Nova Scotia will soon be guided by accessibility standards.
Minister responsible for the Accessibility Act, Mark Furey was joined by the Accessibility Advisory Board and stakeholders on Sept. 21 for the release of the province's implementation strategy for achieving accessibility.
Access by Design 2030 identifies priorities to achieve the goals set out in the Accessibility Act.
"I am proud of the collaboration that led to the Accessibility Act being passed last year. This historic piece of legislation will make a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities in Nova Scotia," said Premier Stephen McNeil.
Beginning in 2018, committees will be established to develop accessibility standards for education and the built environment, which includes buildings, streets, sidewalks and shared spaces.
These standards are expected to be rolled out starting in 2022 and will be implemented in the years following. The strategy also identifies actions to improve public awareness, build collaboration and increase compliance with existing regulations.
"Access by Design 2030 outlines how government, businesses, communities, and individuals will work together to create a province that is inclusive and accessible to all," said Mr. Furey. "The priorities outlined in the strategy and the continued input we receive from Nova Scotians will guide our work to make this province more equitable and inclusive."
The first Government of Nova Scotia Accessibility Plan (2018-2021) was also released on Sept. 21. The plan outlines actions for improving access to the provincial public service and to government information, infrastructure, programs, and services for persons with disabilities.
"As an employer, and as Nova Scotia's largest program and service provider, it is important we lead by example," said Premier McNeil. "Government's plan sets out concrete actions that will be taken over the next three years to ensure that accessibility is considered in the development and delivery of our policies, programs and services, and in our workplace."
Both the strategy and the plan were developed with input from Nova Scotians, including persons with disabilities and their families, those who provide services to persons with disabilities, municipalities, and representatives from the non-profit, education, health, and business sectors, and in collaboration with staff who work directly on the development and delivery of government programs and services.
A summary of the consultation findings, Access by Design 2030, and the Government of Nova Scotia Accessibility Plan are available at novascotia.ca/accessibility.
"It's an exciting time to be a part of the efforts the province is making to improve accessibility," said Clary Stubbert, member of the disabled community and student of the NSCC Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program. "The training I'm receiving from the Rick Hansen program will allow me to assess buildings in order to remove some of the barriers faced by people with disabilities."
Government will continue to consult with persons with disabilities and those impacted on the development of standards and the implementation of actions outlined in the strategy and government plan.
"We are looking forward to working with standard development committees and continuing our consultation with persons with disabilities and others as we develop recommendations for the first standards, said Doug Foster, chair of the Accessibility Advisory Board. "The success of the Accessibility Act can only be achieved when the voices of those directly impacted are heard."
The Accessibility Act was passed in 2017, setting a goal of an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030. It outlines how we will improve accessibility in our province to ensure that every Nova Scotian can participate in our society.