Build Bridges to Better Business on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Image via City of Kingston.

The City of Kingston’s Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee and Kingston Economic Development Corporation will mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, with a special panel discussion on accessible business practices and a presentation of the 2021 Celebrating Accessibility Awards recipients.

Sponsored by the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, Bridges to Better Business: Reducing Barriers to Increase Accessibility is a 60-minute online event. The event will feature Two Canes Consulting, SignAble Vi5ion, CCS Inc. and Dolphin Digital Technologies and be moderated by Caitlin Bruce, chair of the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, according to a release from the City of Kingston.

“We’re pleased to be able to focus on accessibility for this year’s Bridges to Better Business. When businesses perform better, consumers benefit,” said Donna Gillespie, CEO, Kingston Economic Development Corporation. “According to Statistics Canada, more than 6 million Canadians aged 15 and over (22 per cent of the population) identify as having a disability. If you are a business owner, it is essential to consider the needs of consumers and employees. This panel will help you learn how to make it easier for people to do business with you.”

The event is free to attend, and attendees will learn how to embrace and improve accessibility in the workplace through employment and customer service, according to the release.

An ASL interpreter will be at the event and close captioning is provided. If you require accommodation, please let the organizers know by contacting Nour Mazloum, Communications & Events Officer at Kingston Economic Development Corporation at [email protected] or 613 329 9270.

Registration for Bridges to Better Business is available on Eventbrite:

The City said that additional funding for the event was provided by FedDev Ontario.

2021 Celebrating Accessibility Award recipients

“Building an inclusive, welcoming, and accessible city is a community-wide effort,” said Mayor Bryan Paterson. “That’s why I’m thrilled to be able to acknowledge outstanding individuals, businesses and organizations each year that contribute to this vision. They go above and beyond to make Kingston a better place to live and ensure everyone can participate and feel included in the community.”

The Celebrating Accessibility Awards were created in 2011 by the City in partnership with the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC) to recognize those who have made contributions – beyond legislated requirements – toward improving access for people with disabilities in Kingston.

The recipients of the 2021 Celebrating Accessibility Awards will be recognized on Dec. 3, following the Bridges to Better Business discussion panel. The recipients will be celebrated, along with their accomplishments, in the following categories, as the City outlined below:

YGK Thrift Store, Business Category

A warm and welcoming shopping environment, accessible entrance and clothing racks and a commitment to inclusion and diversity in their clothing models are among the reasons YGK Thrift Store is recognized with a Celebrating Accessibility Award.

“We think they are doing an excellent job at striving to provide a fully inclusive community and environment for all,” said Tamara Cordeiro, who nominated the downtown thrift store for the award on behalf of Community Living Kingston & District.

YGK Thrift worked with Community Living Kingston and District to feature persons with a disability in their clothing at a modelling session. The photos are featured on the business’ social media platforms. “This meant so much to the models we connected them with, especially one woman who had a dream of becoming a model. It was a very memorable and meaningful experience for all involved,” added Cordeiro.

Yessica Rivera Belsham, Community Member Category

Yessica continually breaks down barriers for people with visible and invisible disabilities. A multi-disciplinary artist, she creates spaces at her performances and workshops that are accessible, safe, and inclusive for people of all backgrounds and abilities. Her innovative use of visuals to show drumming sound waves on a screen during an online performance meant that people with hearing impairment were able to connect with the music.

“Yessica has a way that welcomes everyone and tries to be inclusive. She is humble, and her advocacy for people with varying abilities does have an impact in the community,” said nominator Leslie St. Pierre.

Lionhearts Inc., Community Organization Category

Lionhearts Inc. was recognized for their efforts to offer food security and support to vulnerable residents through reallocating food and resources to community agencies in the KFL&A region. Their COVID-19 Street Project operated a street kitchen and provided meal kits for over 327,000 people between March 2020 to summer of 2021.

“This is not a story about just another street program or food insecurity; it is about access to an inclusive community that looks after each other and builds a strong link between everyone sharing the land on which we live,” said David Williams, who nominated Lionhearts Inc. for the award.

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