Local businesses recognized for accessibility initiatives - Oct. 18, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
North Huron has put its best foot forward as far as accessibility is concerned with a majority of award winners from the Huron County Accessibility Advisory Committee.
The awards were handed out last week and, on Monday night, committee member Julie Sawchuk visited North Huron Council to congratulate the municipality on its success.
Awards were presented to Glassier Physiotherapy in Wingham, Blyth Memorial Hall, Huron Midwives in Blyth, the North Huron Health Team for the new medical campus at the former Wingham Public School, the International Plowing Match’s accessibility committee and Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company.
The first four are located in North Huron while Blyth Cowbell Brewing is located just south of the municipality in Central Huron.
Sawchuk started by explaining that the IPM committee, while not responsible for a permanent site, had made history by making last September’s IPM in Walton fully-accessible, which is no mean feat for an event covering approximately 140 acres. The award was presented to Charlene O’Reilly, chair of the accessibility committee, and Jacquie Bishop, chair of the event.
Glassier Physiotherapy’s Bill and Nicki Glassier received the award for the extensive effort put forward at the business over the past year and a half.
Sawchuk explained that the couple made the Josephine Street site very accessible with sliding doors, a single-floor layout, accessible parking lot, lower counter tops and accessible washrooms. She also lauded the company’s accessible offices with wide doors.
North Huron received the award for Blyth Memorial Hall which underwent significant renovations through Blyth Arts and Cultural Initiative 14/19 Inc.’s capital project over the past several years.
North Huron contributed to the multi-million project, which resulted in a very accessible and well-thought out structure, Sawchuk said.
“My favourite thing, aside from the bathroom, is the folding out arms in the theatre,” Sawchuk said.
She explained that every other row in the theatre has an outside seat with a removal armrest that allows differently-abled individuals to easily get in and out of the seat. She said that not having to sit in her wheelchair through entire performances is a great experience.
The new health campus for the Wingham and Area Hospital is a fabulous place, Sawchuk said, since almost everything is on one floor and an elevator connects to the second floor.
The site is also home to one of two adult-sized change tables in Huron County, the other is at Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company.
Sawchuk said the change tables allow a measure of dignity to caretakers and parents who have charges who have outgrown more common baby- and toddler-changing stations.
She said that forward-thinking attitude allows these caretakers to not have to change their charges’ garments on the floor. While having space for such a surface is code, actually having the table installed is not.
Huron Midwives in Blyth, run by Ellen Peel, opened recently in the former Living Water Christian Fellowship location on County Road 25. Sawchuk explained Peel and her parents have put significant effort into making the building accessible including wide thoroughfares, proper railings, automatic doors and all-hardwood flooring. The latter is important, Sawchuk said, as carpet is terrible for wheelchairs.
“Anyone can go in and have a checkup or go in and have a baby with a partner or parent in a wheelchair,” she said.
Sawchuk added that the changes are not just focused on mobility, as colour-contrast paint and a great bathroom set-up are also on site.
Sawchuk called Cowbell an invisibly-accessible location. She said that visitors are not struck by how accessible the site is unless they are in need of those features.
Council thanked Sawchuk for the announcement with members lauding Sawchuk and other community members like Blyth’s Lorie Falconer for their efforts in bring accessibility to the forefront of public thought. Councillor Trevor Seip made a motion to send a letter to each award winner to congratulate them on their efforts.