This project, sponsored by the Hidden Mobility Disabilities Alliance and funded by Accessibility Standards Canada, explored possible changes to federal accessibility standards needed to address an often overlooked area of disability – that of limited mobility (hidden mobility disabilities, HMD), or the ability to walk independently but no more than a short distance (15 meters) and to stand unsupported but only for a brief time (1-2 minutes). Limited mobility affects 13 percent of Canadians over 15, or over 4 million Canadians. To date, no accessibility standards have addressed distance to be walked or time standing unsupported as access barriers. 

Unfortunately, the lack of awareness of distance as an access barrier sometimes extends to people with limited mobility themselves. All too often they allow themselves to be pressured into walking further than is healthy for them (“It’s just over there — not far”), not aware that pushing themselves to walk or stand longer than is comfortable may have negative health consequences.

Individuals with limited mobility usually manage effectively within their home environment where they can arrange to minimize walking distances or time standing. Access barriers result from the interaction between their mobility limitations and the structure of the external environment, combined with the often unrealistic expectations of others about what constitutes a “short distance” or a “brief time.”

If Canada is to become barrier free by 2040 (as specified in the Accessible Canada Act), then Accessibility Standards Canada requires input on:

  • The physical access requirements of those with limited mobility.
  • How attitudinal barriers stemming from assumptions about physical capabilities could be addressed.

Providing such input was the purpose of The HMD Project.