There is nothing worse than showing up at a music venue for a concert with a bunch of friends super excited to see a show only to find out that there are 15 steps separating the street level from the ground floor concert hall. Over time I developed thick skin in order to overcome the immense frustration that encounters with physical barriers would cause. But just over a year ago my armor failed me and my frustration boiled over while looking for a good spot for a Friday afternoon refreshment with my good friend and coworker Michael Hopkins. Enough was enough and together we decided to do something about this huge problem that exists in every community across the country. Together we formed StopGap - an initiative with a goal to raise awareness about barriers in our built environment.
Our first project that we have embarked upon is called The Ramp Project. With help from Home Depot businesses with single stepped storefronts are invited to participate and have a custom ramp made at no cost. The brightly coloured ramps do not present a perfect solution to the problem however they create curiosity and get people talking about this huge design issue. The project has introduced many to the human right to equal access and has broadened the conversation on this topic.
The ramp project has been successful at highlighting how a simple ramp can make life easier for everyone. Participants have shared that a ramped storefront is more inviting. Parents pushing strollers, couriers using dollies to handle heavy packages and people using mobility aides all benefit from a barrier free storefront. The project has also proved that business owners are able to increase their customer base by providing an accessible storefront. The ramp project has been successful at highlighting how a simple ramp can make life easier for everyone.
Funded by Toronto, ON (July 2012)