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Ensuring Accessibility for Persons with HMD

The Accessible Canada Act states that Canada will be barrier free by 2040. Current federal accessibility standards are being reviewed to make sure all barriers to access are being addressed. One critical area of modification is to address the barriers faced by people with hidden mobility disabilities (HMD) – i.e. individuals who are independently mobile but can walk no more than a short distance or stand unsupported for no more then a brief time without significant health consequences.

Persons with HMD face not only physical access barriers but also attitudinal barriers. Here are the most common negative attitudes that get expressed:

  • Ignored as though invisible
  • Irritation or anger that the person is blocking their way
  • Pitying looks
  • Impatiently ordered to walk faster
  • Shoved off balance as the person rushes by

Participants reported that the following helped to change their attitudes about access barriers and become empathic to those with limited mobility:

  • Discussions with family and friends
  • Material on the HMDProject.org website
  • Being confronted or asked for help by some with HMD
  • Online discussions of distance and time standing as access issues
  • Orientation handouts

This project, sponsored by the Hidden Mobility Disabilities Alliance and funded by Accessibility Standards Canada, is designed to determine how best to address:

  • Physical barriers posed by distance to be walked and time standing.
  • Assumptions people make about what constitutes a short distance to be walked or a short time to stand.

We are asking that you engage in the following ways to assist the project:

  1. Educate members and staff of your organization about HMD, using the Understanding Hidden Mobility Disabilities hand-out and sample newsletter article provided.
  2. Recruit individuals as participants in the project.
  3. Ensure your premises and activities are barrier free for those with HMD.
  4. Participate in an online focus group to discuss best practices for creating a public environment in which everyone with HMD can participate fully.

Thank you for your willingness to participate!