Tuesday, March 23, 2010

City council chambers to be accessible for people with disabilities

City Council Chambers will begin a $1.5 million renovation this summer to make it more accessible for everyone to participate in the Municipal government process.

Universal design principles will be incorporated in the design, so that future Council members, Administration and the public will be able to work, present and hear in Council Chambers.

“After many years of being excluded, people with disabilities will be part of an inclusive environment,” said Leanne Squair, a member of The City’s advisory committee on accessibility.

Council Chambers will be closed until November for the upgrades, which will include lowering the current floor area and changing some of the Aldermanic seating, so mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, can be accommodated. Some stairs will be converted to ramps and spaces for six mobility devices will be incorporated into the general seating area.

Screens will also be added so that Captioning for people that are deaf or hard of hearing can see what is being said.

Signage and stair nosings with colour contrast, along with seating that will accommodate a companion or service/guide dog will assist people with vision loss.

“Accessibility is not an end, it is a process,” explained Squair, adding this renovation will bring Council Chambers up to the current Alberta Building Code standards.

“In the future, we will be able to have a Mayor and Council that have disabilities because we are an accessible City,” said Squair.

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