Ali Baggott

The University of Victoria received the Rick Hansen Foundation’s top accessibility rating – RHF Accessibility Certified Gold – for its Centre of Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA) building.

CARSA, which opened in May 2015, houses the university’s varsity athletics program, community programs for youth across the region and active living programs and classes for on and off-campus members, as well as being home to CanAssist, a University of Victoria organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities improve their quality of life.

The Vikes have worked closely with campus and community partners to offer inclusive programming in the building, including drop-in wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball, as well as integrated spin classes and blind soccer. The CARSA field house was also host to the Canadian wheelchair rugby team training camp.

“Since opening in 2015 our goal has always been to be a warm, welcoming and inclusive facility that is accessible to people of all abilities,” remarked Clint Hamilton, Director of Vikes Athletics and Recreation at UVic. “Achieving this level of the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification is incredibly important to the university and it is affirmation that our founding goal is being delivered upon. We are also lucky to have had CanAssist as a partner in CARSA from day 1 and our relationship continues to grow as we find opportunities to further inclusive sport and programming.”

CanAssist helps people of all ages and from across the disability spectrum improve their independence and quality of life by developing innovative technologies and programs where there are gaps in existing services. Many of CanAssist’s technologies are developed in a state-of-the-art machine shop, also located in CARSA. One of the organization’s key programs, TeenWork, helps youth with disabilities find and retain paid employment in the community. Over the years, both CanAssist and Vikes have hired TeenWork participants for jobs within CARSA.

CanAssist and the Vikes are also founding members of OneAbility, a collaborative of about 25 organizations across Greater Victoria dedicated to increasing opportunities for adapted physical activity programs.

“Achieving this rating shows commitment from the University of Victoria to create an inclusive environment for all students, staff and community members,” said Brad McCannell of the Rick Hansen Foundation. “Every day, people with disabilities face barriers to accessing spaces within our communities and it is critical that spaces, where people go to learn, are inclusive to all.”

Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) is the first program to measure the level of meaningful access beyond building code, and is based upon the holistic user experience of people with varying disabilities affecting their mobility, vision and hearing. Thanks to support from the Government of BC, to date, over 1,100 buildings across BC have been rated.

CARSA has a number of accessibility features that earned its rating, including:

  • Adapted fitness equipment, including stationary bikes for fitness classes
  • Blade signage throughout
  • Elevator as main transport to other floors
  • Outdoor accessible washrooms near fields
  • Lift system in universal change room
  • UVic Sports Hall of Fame hallway ramp as the main entrance to the performance gym
  • Multiple accessible concourse-level viewing spots in the performance gym with designated companion seating

For more on Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™, please visit: www.rickhansen.com/RHFAC

About the Rick Hansen Foundation

The Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) was established in 1988, following the completion of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour. For nearly 30 years, RHF has worked to raise awareness, change attitudes, and remove barriers for people with disabilities. Visit www.rickhansen.com to learn more.

About the University of Victoria

UVic is one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities, offering life-changing, hands-on learning experiences to more than 21,000 students on the edge of the spectacular BC coast. As a hub of transformational research, UVic faculty, staff and students make a critical difference on issues that matter to people, places and the planet. Find out more at uvic.ca.