International Day for Persons with Disabilities

Continuously striving to improve accessibility

New West Park hospital rendering image

Dec. 3 is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities and the theme is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.” Accessibility isn’t a static concept; it continues to evolve and expand as we find new ways to make our communities more inclusive and barrier-free.

It all starts with listening to people with disabilities, who are experts in the challenges of moving through these every-day barriers. In building our new hospital West Park set out with the goal of becoming one of the most accessible buildings in North America. To do this, we are consulting with our patients about what would improve their experience in the new hospital.

Below are just five (of many) ways the new hospital will improve accessibility for everyone who passes through our doors.

1. Visual and auditory way-finding cues

Navigating the hospital will be straightforward with clearly defined paths of travel, so individuals will be able to reach their destination with ease.

  • Each floor of the hospital will have a distinct accent colour
  • Additional colour contrast throughout the hospital will enhance visibility of entries, assistive handrails, and rest areas
  • All wall-mounted signs will include pictograms and braille
  • Handrails for stairs/ramps will include braille on the rail extensions indicating the floor the user has arrived at
  • Elevators will utilize sound, and braille

2. Integrated Bedside Terminals (IBTs)

Patients want to be able to do things for themselves, and with the installation of IBTs in patient rooms, they will be able to adjust the environment by using an assistive switch that can be tailored to their abilities. With the IBT they can adjust the thermostat, lights and blinds, and contact a nurse without having to leave their bed.

3. Barrier-free washrooms

  • Accessible stalls in multi-stall washrooms will include space for an 1800mm wheelchair turn circle
  • Enhanced access washrooms will have a larger transfer space with bariatric weight-bearing grab bars, and a 2100mm turn circle
  • Where multiple sinks are provided there will be at least one accessible sink with the counter height and knee space required to easily access the faucet, e.g. for an individual who uses a wheelchair
  • Private inpatient washrooms will be flexible and accommodating, featuring a variety of grab-bars, non-slip flooring, and more
  • Gender inclusive public washrooms that will support many uses, including assisting loved ones with toiletingTwo universal washrooms, which will include an adult change table and a spot to drain a catheter bag

4. Accessible doors

  • Doors will have a wider width to allow all individuals to pass through with ease, e.g.people in wheelchairs, individuals walking with a service animal
  • Lever hardware on all doors, which can be used with a closed fist or an elbow
  • Where necessary, an elongated power door button is provided, which can be activated at multiple heights, such as with the touch of a wheelchair-foot support or hip

5. Accessing the restorative power of nature

West Park understands how valuable nature can be in patient healing. To ensure all of our patients can enjoy the benefits it has on mental and physical well-being, the new hospital will overflow with lush green space across the entire campus.

  • Each floor of the hospital will have a large terrace containing planters and space for therapeutic exercise
  • For those unable to leave their rooms, each of the private patient rooms will have a large window overlooking the campus
  • The site includes gently sloped paths that reduce fatigue with rest areas every 30 metres
  • Path surfaces are firm, slip-resistant, and place any drainage grates away from the path
  • Tactile attention indicators will be provided at all curb cuts and drop-curb areas where the sidewalk and roadway are flush to help those who cannot see to be alerted they are about to leave the sidewalk