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Posted: August 16, 2021

CAN working on regaining momentum

By Mary Giuliano

In 2018 a group of interested citizens came together to form the Canadian Adaptive Network (CAN).

Based in the Elk Valley, this society developed from individuals’ personal experiences with functional limitation. Their purpose was to increase awareness of such limitations and present informative measures to change perception and improve accessibility and inclusion.

Functional limitations are defined as any way mentally or physically in which a person’s condition affects their ability to function on a day-to-day basis.

CAN’s mission is to build a network for coordination of services, communication regarding best practices, standards for adaptive design and flexible and diverse programs and facilities aimed for those with physical disabilities and those with autism or sensory process disorder, for instance complex interior design patterns, glare and noise.

Before the pandemic began CAN completed a survey of over 30 buildings in Fernie to document what buildings were presently accessible to those deemed disabled in some form.

Stella Swanson, chair of CAN said, “After a Covid-related pause, CAN is up and running again and working on regaining our momentum.  We want to be sure we are being effective and relevant as we work on creating a more inclusive community. We are very fortunate to have had the benefit of connections with professionals who provide care and assistance to people with disabilities.

“One of those professionals is Dr. Mary Culshaw. Mary is an Occupational Therapist and a professor at Moravian University in Pennsylvania.  Thanks to our connection with Mary, we have been given the opportunity to be included in a summer course for graduate students. After discussions with Mary and her students, we agreed that CAN would greatly benefit from hearing directly from people in Fernie regarding the needs of people with disabilities and how best to address those needs.”

The report will soon be available to the public at the CAN website, but what the students found during their study was that Fernie residents are familiar and want an inclusive community for individuals with disabilities.

But there is a problem with making this happen as Fernie is an old city with heritage buildings downtown that are not easily accessible for those who have physical problems.  It is true that many of the city-owned public and also privately-owned buildings are not easily accessible for some individuals.

It’s not only the cost that has to be considered in making them accessible but also the consideration in keeping the  outside historical integrity of the structure.

CAN says that there is some federal and provincial assistance to businesses that are interested in making changes.

For more information on this organization please check out CAN’s website.

Or connect on Facebook.

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