Accessibility Planning

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Accessibility Advisory Committee

This page is dedicated to providing up to date information on the activities of the Town of Yarmouth Accessibility Advisory Committee. This newly formed committee is made up of members of the community who offer broad knowledge and firsthand experience on the subject of accessibility. A key goal of the committee in its first year will be to develop a comprehensive Accessibility Plan for the Town of Yarmouth.


Members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee are:

Appointed Elected Official Members

Councillor Derek Lesser
Councillor Gil Dares


Appointed Members At Large

Steve Nicholl (Chair)
Jane Walker (Vice Chair)
Sherrie Graham (Secretary)
Tracy Holmes-Carbonell
Laurie d’Entremont
Tania Boudreau
Peter Hansen

Ex Officio Members

Mayor Pam Mood
CAO Jeff Gushue
Accessibility Co-Ordinator Natalie Smith


Now Seeking Accessibility Stories: Please Share Your Video Today!

Do you have a personal story to tell about accessibility? Have you faced barriers when using municipal buildings or public spaces, accessing goods and services, receiving communication and information, using public transportation, or applying for employment within the Town of Yarmouth? Or, do you have ideas on how to make the Town of yarmouth barrier-free? Tell us your story through a video today!

Simply click the link below and you can easily record a video using your PC or smartphone, and submit it to the Town of Yarmouth's Accessibility Advisory Committee. Your story will help us build our Accessibility Action Plan to be released in the spring of 2022. Please note that we may also use your video, or parts of it, in a special presentation to Town Council on public input on the topic of accessibility.

A final note: while we appreciate that many are passionate about the topic of accessibility, please be respectful in the delivery of your message. Record your video by visiting the following page: https://bit.ly/RecordYourAccessibilityVideo

Accessibility Advisory Committee

This page is dedicated to providing up to date information on the activities of the Town of Yarmouth Accessibility Advisory Committee. This newly formed committee is made up of members of the community who offer broad knowledge and firsthand experience on the subject of accessibility. A key goal of the committee in its first year will be to develop a comprehensive Accessibility Plan for the Town of Yarmouth.


Members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee are:

Appointed Elected Official Members

Councillor Derek Lesser
Councillor Gil Dares


Appointed Members At Large

Steve Nicholl (Chair)
Jane Walker (Vice Chair)
Sherrie Graham (Secretary)
Tracy Holmes-Carbonell
Laurie d’Entremont
Tania Boudreau
Peter Hansen

Ex Officio Members

Mayor Pam Mood
CAO Jeff Gushue
Accessibility Co-Ordinator Natalie Smith


Now Seeking Accessibility Stories: Please Share Your Video Today!

Do you have a personal story to tell about accessibility? Have you faced barriers when using municipal buildings or public spaces, accessing goods and services, receiving communication and information, using public transportation, or applying for employment within the Town of Yarmouth? Or, do you have ideas on how to make the Town of yarmouth barrier-free? Tell us your story through a video today!

Simply click the link below and you can easily record a video using your PC or smartphone, and submit it to the Town of Yarmouth's Accessibility Advisory Committee. Your story will help us build our Accessibility Action Plan to be released in the spring of 2022. Please note that we may also use your video, or parts of it, in a special presentation to Town Council on public input on the topic of accessibility.

A final note: while we appreciate that many are passionate about the topic of accessibility, please be respectful in the delivery of your message. Record your video by visiting the following page: https://bit.ly/RecordYourAccessibilityVideo

  • Now Seeking Accessibility Stories: Please Share Your Video Today!

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    supporting image
    Do you have a personal story to tell about accessibility? Have you faced barriers when using municipal buildings or public spaces, accessing goods and services, receiving communication and information, using public transportation, or applying for employment within the Town of Yarmouth? Or, do you have ideas on how to make the Town of yarmouth barrier-free? Tell us your story through a video today!


    Simply click the link below and you can easily record a video using your PC or smartphone, and submit it to the Town of Yarmouth's Accessibility Advisory Committee. Your story will help us build our Accessibility Action Plan to be released in the spring of 2022. Please note that we may also use your video, or parts of it, in a special presentation to Town Council on public input on the topic of accessibility.


    A final note: while we appreciate that many are passionate about the topic of accessibility, please be respectful in the delivery of your message. Record your video by visiting the following page: https://bit.ly/RecordYourAccessibilityVideo
  • Accessibility Virtual Conference

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    The Town of Yarmouth's Accessibility Advisory Committee is developing an Accessibility Action Plan. The plan will identify accessibility barriers the public experience when using municipal buildings or public spaces, accessing goods and services, receiving communication and information, using public transportation, and applying for employment. A successful plan needs input from community members like YOU, especially if you are a person living with a disability or someone working with individuals with disabilities.

    The Committee is hosting a virtual conference and you are invited to participate and offer your point of view. You will be able to answer important questions and share your first-hand experiences on accessing public spaces and receiving goods and services from the Town of Yarmouth. The information gathered will play an important part in developing the Accessibility Action Plan.

    The conference will be held on Tuesday, September 21st at 7 pm. Please register today by clicking here!

  • Accessibility committee seeking public input

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    Tri-County Vanguard.


    Even if the Town of Yarmouth’s Accessibility Advisory Committee looks at every sidewalk crack, studies every blade of grass, and measures every piece of playground equipment, it’s still going to miss something when it comes to identifying all of the needs and barriers that people with disability and accessibility issues face.

    So says committee chair Stephen Nicholl.

    Which is why, he says, upcoming community engagement and input will be so important in helping the committee to formulate an accessibility action plan for the town.

    “If the public can come together and say this is where we need change, or this is not working for us, that will help,” he says, saying the committee is looking at the overall situation from a variety of disability and accessibility needs.

    “We’re looking at mobility issues, visual issues, hearing issues, autism, and so on. We’re going to miss something along the way so it’s important to have the community reach out to us,” Nicholl says. “Then we can look at what’s not working and how do we fix it.”

    Nicholl notes, for instance, that he’s lived in Yarmouth most of his life and only three months ago did he learn of the presence of public washrooms on Killams Wharf. While it’s good to have facilities he says, it’s not good if the public doesn’t know they exist or where to find them.

    The town’s citizen advisory committee got to work over seven months ago. It was formed in response to Nova Scotia’s 2017 Accessibility

    Act, which mandates public sector bodies to develop accessibility action plans.

    The committee is largely made up of people with disabilities, or people who work with those who have disabilities.

    The action plan is scheduled to be completed and released next year. It will identify priorities to tackle right away, but work will also be an ongoing process.

    There has been legwork completed by committee members and town staff and there has been some public input to date. But now the official public engagement is a vital part of the process.

    The committee is looking at several areas, including how accessible things are when:

    people are using municipal buildings or public spaces;

    people are accessing goods and services;

    people are receiving communication and information;

    people are using public transportation;

    and, people are applying for employment and working in workspaces.

    Coun. Derek Lesser, one of the elected representatives who is on the committee, says it is very important for them to hear from people about their lived experiences when it comes to accessibility issues.

    “My mom, being in a wheelchair, she often will say, ‘They did something to make things accessible but they didn’t consult people in a wheelchair.’ There are different types of wheelchairs and then there’s scooters, which are all different sizes,” he says, saying while those constructing a ramp might think they’ve found the ideal solution for creating accessibility, they may have missed something in the design that wouldn’t be obvious to them but would be to someone who experiences accessibility issues.

    Adding to that, Lesser says, parents and caregivers would also have good feedback for the committee to take into consideration.

    Identifying barriers is being done by the committee through a two-part process: a formal audit and the public consultation. The audit has seen town staff working on a full examination of townowned buildings, parks and trails to determine accessibility and issues with the built environment. The audit had also involved recommending improvements and a schedule to achieve them.

    Natalie Smith serves as accessibility coordinator for the town on the committee. She says whenever new infrastructure projects are carried out in the town – like the streetscape project or road infrastructure – the town incorporates the new, and required, built environment standards into the design.

    Municipalities can also go beyond what’s called for, or the province itself can direct municipalities to do more than what the current standards call for.

    With any discussion also comes the issue of grandfathering things in. That can be tricky, particularly when it comes to the private sector since as a municipal unit you’re trying collectively to be as accessible as you can be.

    “If some things are already existing, unless it’s a safety hazard, which we would enforce, you’re not necessarily going to look at changes,” Smith says. “But when they come in to do renovations or new construction, then the standard of the day would apply to them.”

    While it may be expensive to be proactive and make changes, businesses have to ask themselves if they’re losing business if their places aren’t accessibility, and/or how that is also a disservice to their customers.

    “I think businesses will have to make that decision,” says Smith. “Should I still have my business on the second floor if I can’t put in a lift or an elevator or provide some sort of ramp to accommodate my clientele? In some cases they may have to consider, am I in the right building?”

    She says the action plan also will take into account that fact that tourism is big part of the economy, as you want to ensure visitors with accessibility issues are also properly being served and treated, in addition to the local population.

    And then there’s the fact we all age and what may not be an accessibility issue for us today, could be one in the future, she says.

    Nicholl himself is hearing impaired and experiences respiratory issues. He notes COVID measures, while necessary, have highlighted accessibility issues and downfalls.

    It can be difficult enough to be in a store or restaurant and hear people talking with music playing (often too loud), he says, but throw in masks and plexiglass into the mix and the issue is more pronounced.

    Yet while eventually the masks will go away, the issue of accessibility is one that will always be present.

    “No one in Yarmouth should ever experience a barrier to goods and services, or transportation or parking lots or whatever the thing may be,” Nicholl says. “No one should encounter a barrier because of their accessibility issues.”

  • Citizen Advisory Committee Making Swift Progress with Town Accessibility Plan

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    Wednesday, July 28th, 2021 - Yarmouth, N.S. After just six months of working together, the Town of Yarmouth’s newest citizen advisory committee has completed an impressive amount of work. The Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) was formed in response to Nova Scotia’s 2017 Accessibility Act, which mandates public sector bodies to develop accessibility action plans. While the long-term objectives and goals of the AAC are broad, developing an accessibility action plan is the first task.

    The action plan is scheduled to be completed and released next year. Much of the legwork needed to build the plan is has been completed by committee members and town staff. The AAC has a target to present the finished plan to Yarmouth Town Council in early 2022 for review and adoption. The plan will identify accessibility barriers the public experience in the following key areas:

    1. When using municipal buildings or public spaces (the “built environment”). This means making public buildings, streets, sidewalks, and shared spaces accessible to all.
    2. When accessing goods and services. This ensures that people with disabilities have equitable access to goods and services they need.
    3. When receiving communication and information so that all people can receive, understand, and share the information they need.
    4. When using public transportation - making it easier for everyone to get where they need to go.
    5. When applying for employment. This is to ensure workplaces are accessible, and supporting people with disabilities in finding meaningful employment.

    Identifying barriers is being done through a two-part process: a formal audit and public consultation. The audit has staff working on a full examination of Town-owned buildings, parks and trails to determine accessibility and issues with the built environment. The audit also involves recommending improvements and a schedule to achieve them. The process is well underway, with the audit of the Town Hall building now complete.

    Community consultation will begin in September and will allow community members to provide valuable input on the barriers they’ve faced. Through direct consultation, residents can provide first-hand experiences on accessing public spaces and receiving goods and services from the Town. A variety of consultation options will be available to the public to participate including virtual meetings, focus groups, hand-written input, as well as opportunity to provide input through the Town’s “Get Involved Yarmouth” online engagement platform. People’s stories and experiences will play an important part in developing the action plan.

    AAC Chair Stephen Nicholl is excited about the work being done to develop the action plan.

    “There’s been some hurtles to clear in the beginning with COVID-19, but we worked around them and we are off to a fast and productive start.” Said Nicholl. “As we get closer to completing the audit process, we are looking to soon get much-needed input from the community. We need to hear from people about their experiences. As the town adds and replaces new infrastructure, it’s important to determine all of the issues and barriers so that they can be outlined in the action plan. The plan then serves as a guide for council and staff for all future development.”

    Nicholl adds that the committee aims to use a wide lens to determine both the types of disabilities as well the barriers people face.

    “As Chair of the group I have always aimed to make sure we look at a diverse range of accessibility issues, from neurodiversity, to mobility and sensory issues. We want to make sure we look at every aspect of Yarmouth from the perspective of all types of disabilities people face so we can better determine anything and everything that might be considered a barrier. We want a future where anyone with accessibility issues will have equal access to as many aspects of life in Yarmouth as possible.”

    Committee members are largely made up of people with disabilities, or people who work with those who have disabilities. Committee Vice Chair Jane Walker see this as a major plus.

    “It’s really important to our committee, that in addition to ensuring we are inclusive of all disabilities and access needs when completing our work, we have also worked hard to make sure that many of our projects are spearheaded by disabled people or people working in that profession,” said Walker. “It is a priority of ours to have these discussions and our accessibility plan be truly representative of the large disabled population in our town.”

    More details on the public consultation process will be made available in coming weeks. The AAC encourages everyone – especially those with disabilities or those work or live with individuals with disabilities - to get involved in the consultation process and tell their stories.

    For more information, including videos of past meetings, provincial accessibility legislation, AAC Policy and more visit www.accessibleyarmouth.ca

  • April 28th Southwest Wire Article

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    Building a barrier-free Yarmouth

    New committee looking to break town barriers, build up accessibility

    • The Southwest Wire
    • Sara.Ericsson@saltwire.com SARA ERICSSON THE SOUTHWEST WIRE


    Accessibility encompasses not just physical barriers but also other invisible ones preventing ready access to day-to-day activities and services.


    Accessibility is a topic that towns across Nova Scotia are looking into more readily since the passing of Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act. This include Yarmouth, where a newly appointed committee aims to identify barriers to accessibility and solutions to remove them.


    The Town of Yarmouth Accessibility Advisory Committee chair Stephen Nicholl and co-ordinator Natalie Smith are part of the team that will work with the public to determine what can be done to make Yarmouth a more accessible town for everyone.


    “We are looking at what barriers people in Yarmouth may face, be them citizens or tourists who visit. We want to make sure Yarmouth is as accessible and barrier-free as possible,” says Nicholl.

    IDENTIFY AND ADAPT


    Accessibility is an area that affects many Nova Scotians, with data from the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability finding that 30 per cent of Nova Scotians ages 15 and older identify as having accessibility issues, compared to national average of 22 per cent.


    With Nova Scotia enacting its Accessibility Act in 2017, Smith says it mandated public sector bodies to develop accessibility action plans using a toolkit established during the Wolfville town accessibility pilot project. She says the Yarmouth committee was formed as a result in November 2020.


    Smith says the Yarmouth committee had its first meeting in January and, using this toolkit as its framework, is now calling on town residents to provide feedback on any barriers they consider happening.


    “Our goals are to identify and adapt barriers that exist in Yarmouth, then develop an accessibility action plan,” she says.


    Many members of the committee either have a disability or have worked with people who have disabilities. This includes Nicholl, who says his hearing impairment has made navigating COVID-19 health restrictions extremely difficult.


    Nicholl and Smith say the committee is eager for town residents with personal experiences like Nicholl’s to engage with the accessibility action plan process and potentially help identify barriers needs to change and solutions that could work.


    “Identifying barriers that are easily missed is what we want to hear about,” says Nicholl.


    DEVELOPING A PLAN

    Smith says first-hand knowledge is key to identifying barriers — especially any invisible ones — that the committee might otherwise not know of. She says this is already starting to happen with presentations from a Yarmouth mother regarding the barriers her autistic child faces.


    “Awareness is number one, then education and problem solving. This is how continuous improvement happens,” says Smith.


    Nicholl says the committee will look beyond just physical accessibility, into areas including information and communication, transportation, education, employment, built environment and how goods and services are delivered and received in Yarmouth, to ensure it identifies as many barriers as possible.


    “We want to make sure that as much as possible, barriers are free from all aspects of Yarmouth, from sidewalks to customer service,” says Nicholl.


    The committee’s ultimate goal is to develop and implement an action plan within the next year. To ensure this happens, Nicholl says the committee will focus on giving Yarmouth residents with any accessibility issue a voice so they can help ensure future town planning is more inclusive.


    And he says the work has already started, with a new piece of sidewalk along Yarmouth’s Main Street that features a grid to aid visually impaired people use the crosswalk.


    “We can do research and read articles, but until we engage with community and find out firsthand what they’re experiencing, we won’t know where to start. We need to find out what the people of Yarmouth are experiencing with regards to accessibility issues,” says Nicholl.


    More information on the Town of Yarmouth Accessibility Advisory Committee can be found at https://getinvolvedyarmouth.ca/accessibility-planning. To get in touch with the committee or to share information on barriers, email accessibility@ townofyarmouth.ca.


    This article was originally published in The Southwest Wire, a publication of the SaltWire Network. The Town of Yarmouth has been granted permission to republish.



Page last updated: 07 December 2021, 09:37