Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) has unveiled its first-ever Accessibility Plan which addresses barriers and challenges for people with disabilities and offers recommendations to enhance accessibility, equity and inclusion across the university.
Biology instructor Dr. Ann Marie Davison is a co-chair of the Accessibility Committee at KPU and a longtime champion of accessibility at the university who helped write the plan.
The Accessibility Plan features steps already taken by KPU to address accessibility and inclusion and outlines barriers that still need to be addressed.
“If you look at our list of recommendations it's not a small list so that tells you there's lots of room for improvement but at the same time I'd like to think there has been quite a bit of advancement,” says Davison, who first started at KPU in 1995.
Dr. Fiona Whittington-Walsh is KPU’s lead advisor on Disability, Accessibility and Inclusion and part of the group that wrote this plan. She says the plan is a good start for the institution but in order to dismantle ableist barriers it needs to go beyond standards.
“Most significantly, we need to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. People with disabilities have disproportionality higher rates of unemployment, low income, and poverty. We also must emphasize the importance of recognizing the compounded impact of intersecting identities when we are discussing disability,” she says.
Some steps taken to address accessibility include ramps for disabled access, automatic doors, gender neutral changing stations, and barrier free menstrual products in all washrooms. KPU has also announced a new position in the Office of Equity and Inclusive Communities titled Director of Disability, Neurodiversity and Accessibility.
KPU’s report comes after the B.C. government passed the Accessible British Columbia Act in 2021, which required institutions across the province to establish an accessibility committee and plan, and receive feedback on their accessibility.
KPU’s new Accessibility Plan website is now live, and includes a copy of the plan as well as a feedback form.