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Taking the message of accessibility to the streets

'The idea is to understand what people go through if they are blind or deaf on in a wheelchair and use city transit' MACC chair Brian Bibeault.

North Bay’s Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC) is taking its message of "accessibility for all," to the streets.

It has issued a challenge to mayor Al McDonald to experience what a person who is blind goes through using a city transit.bus.

“The last week of May is Municipal Accessibility Awareness Week in Ontario, and the month of June is National Deafblind Awareness Month,” said MACC chair Brian Bibeault.

“We decided that on June 6 we were going to promote our wheelchair accessible transit as we have done in the past when we had Mayor Al McDonald in a wheelchair. This time he is going to be blindfolded to experience what it is like to use city transit when you are blind.”

The plan is to take a transit bus from City Hall to Lee Park where a flag will be raised for National Deafblind Awareness Month.

“The idea is to go through it and understand what people go through if they are blind or deaf or in a wheelchair. It is just so councillors understand so that when we bring accessibility issues to them, they will understand them a little bit better like, ‘I didn’t realize a curb would be such a problem for my wheelchair or a minor step into a building.’”

The last time MAAC did a large-scale awareness event like this one was roughly three years ago, however, it does carry out awareness campaigns on a smaller scale, on an annual basis.

“Every year we do something. Last year we had a table at the Farmers’ Market for the first week of June. The year before we were at the mall and had a booth set up for information.”

See: Accessibility Committee launches ramp program to provide better access to businesses

Invitations will be extended to all city councillors along with other local dignitaries.

Not only is June National Deafblind Awareness Month, but it is also the birth month of Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing due to a childhood illness.

She went on to graduate from college and became famous for her work as a political activist and author.