Capilano University has been on the leading edge of the accessibility movement since it began.
1981: The International Year of Disabled Persons
The United Nations declared a call for change in 1981 to give people with disabilities equal opportunities and participation in society.
During that time, Paul Jones of CapU helped to pioneer the original group of post-secondary Disability Services Coordinators — what we now call Accessibility Services — to place an emphasis on the societal barriers and not the persons with disabilities.
Accessibility Service Coordinators were commissioned at 14 of the 15 post-secondary institutions in the province by the fall of 1982. These roles were intended to facilitate the transition and academic accommodations for students with disabilities admitted to all certificate, diploma and degree programs.
1990s: Shifting to Universal Design
In the mid-1990s, the government of B.C. allocated funding to help address physical barriers in facilities, which coincided with a shift in architectural philosophy toward Universal Design (UD), which is sometimes called “inclusive design” or “barrier-free design.”
Over the years, this new design concept was adapted to find new ways of accessibility within the classroom at CapU to enhance the learning experience for all persons with disabilities beyond just the physical location barriers, including visual, audio, and tactical needs for all students.
Today: Affecting systemic accessibility change
The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) was launched in 2019, leading to the 2021 release of the Accessible British Columbia Act—both milestones for the Accessibility Services movement, and great roadmaps for implementing change at a regional level here at CapU.
The Act's central goal is to achieve a barrier-free Canada by the specified target date of January 2040. To do our part, a dedicated team of professionals within the university has developed the Capilano University Accessibility Plan to help our campus community comply with the provincial Act and lead the way toward change.