On Dec. 2, the City of Kingston’s Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC) will present the 2022 Celebrating Accessibility Award recipients one day ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Since 1992, Dec. 3 has been recognized annually to promote understanding of disability issues and to enhance the well-being of persons with disabilities. The City, in partnership with MAAC, created the Celebrating Accessibility Awards in 2011 to recognize a person, group or organization that has made or is making a significant contribution beyond legislated requirements, towards improving access for persons with disabilities in Kingston. A ceremony to recognize these recipients is held annually in December to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Community members are invited to join the City, members of the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee and the award recipients at the awards ceremony on Friday, Dec. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. in Memorial Hall at City Hall, 216 Ontario St. The event is free to attend. This year’s keynote speaker is Desirée Walsh, a stand-up comedian who uses her sense of humour to shine a perspective on her experience as a person with cerebral palsy.
An ASL interpreter will be at the event and closed captioning will be provided. The event will also be livestreamed on the City of Kingston’s YouTube channel. If you require accommodation, please contact Derek Ochej, Committee Clerk at [email protected] or (613) 546-4291 extension 1252.
Celebrating Accessibility Awards recipients
“Building a more inclusive community requires collaboration, empathy and creative problem-solving,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson. “I’m honoured to recognize this year’s Celebrating Accessibility Awards recipients for the meaningful work they’ve accomplished to reduce stigma and advance accessibility in Kingston.”
Polson Park Public School
Over the past six years, Polson Park Public School has made accessibility a priority with continued upgrades to its playground. The structural changes encourage play for children of all abilities, so that their only obstacle is their imagination.
Nominator Stacy Watson says the school administration “... brought a desire to make play inclusive and accessible to all children.” By reducing the physical barriers and rethinking the playground, the school created spaces where all children can play together and engage in a variety of activities.
Through her work at Motion Kingston, Bailey Daniels helps others gain independence and confidence by providing clients and their families with mobility and accessibility equipment. She goes above and beyond to provide non-judgmental information to community members, fostering a culture of increased inclusion by reducing stigma around disabilities.
“She always has a smile, and I can tell she is so passionate about the people she is helping,” says Vincent Minicucci, who nominated Bailey for the award. “She always takes extra steps to make people feel welcome and comfortable to ask questions and reach their goals.”
Designing assistive technology to increase independence for persons with disabilities is at the heart of Claire Davies’ research and teaching. The associate professor of mechanical and materials engineering at Queen’s University works collaboratively with students and community members to design this technology, incorporating feedback from end-users to ensure it meets their needs.
Nominator Vera Kettnaker emphasizes the incredible impact of the work done by Claire and her students. “The devices they create are custom designed for each person’s abilities, empower them to overcome a personal obstacle and [enable them] to live more independently,” Vera says. Some of the technology includes rolling hand sanitizer, a portable foldable toilet seat, an adaptive holder for a video game controller, and clips for closing laced shoes.
Leah Riddell, owner of SignAble Vi5ion, educates individuals, businesses and corporations on how to create work environments centred around inclusive communication that puts people at the centre She is also an American Sign Language instructor and illustrator. She is a past member of the City’s Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, where she used her training and lived experience to advance accessibility for persons with disabilities in Kingston.
“Leah is a one-woman change-maker when it comes to educating Kingston residents and businesses about creating more accessible communities,” says her nominator, Kerry Ramsay. “She is truly an inspiration.”