Colourful Ramps Boost Accessibility

An Ontario city has come up with a simple, but effective idea to make their downtown core more accessible. Cambridge, situated about an hour’s drive southwest of Toronto and close to the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, has a lot of older buildings that have a single step at their front which makes it difficult for those people who use wheelchairs to get inside. But, a simple innovation, funded by the Toronto-based Stop Gap Foundation, has recently hit the streets.

Brightly painted wooden removable ramps are being installed throughout the city. The ramps, seen as a temporary solution for now, are made of wood, and can easily be taken indoors after business hours for storage. Although new buildings are required to be fully accessible, there is a loophole in the law which excuses older buildings from the regulations. However, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act will require these older buildings to be fully accessible by 2025.

The project was started by Sheri Roberts, who uses a wheelchair, after she saw the same project implemented in London, Ontario. She applied for funding through the Stop Gap Foundation and commandeered the help of students from Waterloo’s School of Architecture and members of a local woodworking club to design and build the ramps. The simple plywood structures cost about $100. “We want to make it so that the financial aspect is not a deterrent for businesses,” says Roberts. The colourful ramps do draw attention to the need for accessibility, as well as adding a splash of fun to the city’s downtown core,

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