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Study finds Ottawa is 53 per cent accessible to those with disabilities

File photo of person in wheelchair. (Nathan McDine/Unsplash) File photo of person in wheelchair. (Nathan McDine/Unsplash)
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A new study has found that 53 per cent of Ottawa's public-facing buildings and businesses are accessible to those with disabilities.

The study, conducted by accessibility technology company AccessNow, showed that over 60 per cent of buildings mapped in Canada are not fully accessible.

A news release by AccessNow said that Ottawa was the most accessible of all the cities surveyed, with 53 per cent of restaurants and bars being identified as accessible.

However, Ottawa's downtown core and around the Parliamentary Precinct has a high volume of non-accessible businesses, deviating significantly from the municipal average.

"This means this area would benefit from the more extensive interventions to improve accessibility," the news release said.

The research compiled surveys of over 14,000 consumer-facing businesses in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa as well as 17 small rural Alberta towns.

The study was conducted as part of the Mapping Our Cities for All project (MOCA), Canada's largest accessibility research initiative according to AccessNow.

The project was funded by Accessibility Standards Canada, AccessNow, Mitacs and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

“The lived experience of people with disabilities is a critical part of our research and central to advancing the accessibility landscape in Canada. Only once we measure access, can we improve it,” said Maayan Ziv, founder and CEO of AccessNow.

“MOCA was born out of need for powerful data. By using the collective experience and perspectives of people with all forms of disabilities, we can drive meaningful progress towards a more inclusive Canada.”

Calgary was found to be the least accessible, with a score of just 35 per cent of businesses perceived as fully accessible. Vancouver was found to be 48 per cent accessible.

Urban areas overall were only found to have a slightly greater proportion of businesses within the accessible category (44%), compared to rural areas (39%).

The report also found that the sectors perceived to be the most accessible, with at least 50 per cent of businesses perceived as accessible, are health and personal care, real estate, finance and insurance, clothing and accessories and sporting goods stores.

Sectors like professional, scientific, and technical services; repair and maintenance; personal and laundry services and educational services are less accessible, with fewer than 35 per cent rated as accessible.

Of particular concern was the educational services sector, which not only is among the least accessible industries but also has the highest proportion of businesses rated as not accessible.

The data retrieved by the study has been compiled on an interactive map which rates the accessibility of various businesses throughout the city of Ottawa.

Mappers from these locations assess each location’s overall accessibility levels (Accessible, Partially Accessible, Not Accessible) and collect additional data, such as amenities and non-standardized features.

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