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The Story of Inclusio – Accessible Housing (Calgary)

Submitted by Accessible Housing

Accessible Housing is a non-profit organisation and registered charity, which helps open doors to homes that are both accessible and affordable for people with limited mobility, a growing population with unmet needs in the province of Alberta. Recognising a need in the community for increased mobility-restricted and cost-effective housing, the Accessible Housing Society undertook the development a 45-suite home known as Inclusio.

Inclusio is located in the community of Capitol Hill in Calgary, Alberta. It is the first building of its kind designed to serve those with limited mobility not only in Calgary, but also within the province of Alberta. Inclusio features 45 studio suites, shared common living spaces and laundry rooms available on each floor, a central dining room (designed to offer three meals per day, seven days per week), and wellness room (complete with a therapeutic tub). Residents also have access to an enclosed parking garage (with parking stalls wide enough to accommodate specialised vehicles), as well as on-site administration, maintenance and housekeeping services.

Through the initial design, development and operation of Inclusio, Accessible Housing gained a great deal of knowledge about not only construction design and development but also additionally, how the services provided integrate in the most useful way for residents within the building design. Through a generous grant provided by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Accessible Housing has been able to gather this learned information and share the story of Inclusio with many stakeholders. 

Further understanding of the needs that less than 3% of affordable housing units in Calgary are accessible; 58% of adults with disabilities in Calgary have incomes under $30,000 per year provides opportunity to reach out to government and other agency stakeholders to create plans for strategy and collaboration to fill a greater and increasing need.

 

The benefits realised through the building of Inclusio have been significant. Not only for residents but family members as well as staff working with residents each day.

While supportive living is not a new concept in the realm of housing the uniqueness of Inclusio is, as it was purpose built to support residents with limited mobility.

The success of Inclusio can be summed up best by comments shared from residents:

  • “Allows us to go out into the community and feel safe and comfortable”
  • “The supports we received offer us the ability to contribute to society (working/volunteering) and to offer what you can back”
  • “Has given me a sense of hope, purpose and fulfillment”
  • “Has helped reduce the feelings of uncertainty you feel when disabled”
  • “My mom sleeps at night now not being worried to get a call that I have fallen and need help”
  • “Accessible is not in the business of building places, they are in the business of saving lives”
  • “I have so much I want to do and I feel like I can do it now!”
  • “I was very isolated and depressed, now I have started to live”
  • “My mom took a vacation for the first time in 10 years”

 

The ability for Accessible Housing to tell the story of Inclusio and share learnings will continue long into the future thanks again to the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF). Together, we are creating opportunity that empowers people, and emphasises the importance of a more accessible Alberta.

To learn more about the important work Accessible Housing is doing visit our website www.accessiblehousing.ca.

Pedesting app is helping Calgarians find the easiest, safest, most accessible routes

Submitted by Bricolage Calgary

The Pedesting app is navigation software that provides the easiest, safest and most accessible pedestrian routes through the City of Calgary for various mobility types, including wheelchair users, strollers, and walkers.

The software employs cutting edge data collection methods and recognizes the different mobility requirements of the user. In this way Pedesting can enable all pedestrians to find authoritative directions from point A to point B anywhere in the city. Further, once at the location, Pedesting is able to assist with navigating indoors to find the ultimate destination. We designed the Pedesting app to understand routes through spaces that are complex, such as Calgary’s +15 system or a university campus. Pedesting will establish routes that are easily navigable by anyone, anywhere: from a smart device at home or a phone on the go.

The Pedesting app was created to help people who feel that the urban environment is full of barriers and  challenging to navigate; Pedesting will enable more involvement in society by people who want to contribute but feel isolated. Pedesting is more than an app: it is a community of people who see their respective city as a place for everyone to come together and contribute. The Pedesting community is unified by the belief that a society is best served when everyone is represented, when all citizens are accounted for and able to partake.

Pedesting was formally introduced to the citizens of Calgary through a series of showcases in the fall of 2019 and into the early months of 2020. These showcases were made possible by a generous grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF). At the showcases the Pedesting app was presented to a variety of groups; the Pedesting team fielded questions and actively enrolled beta testers for the app as to assist with the ongoing software development.

Photo Credit: Laura Colpitts Photography
Showcase at Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC)

The showcases were tailored to address the different groups at each event: the City of Calgary was represented by the Mayor, several Councillors, Calgary Economic Development, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), Facilities Management, Roads, Transportation, Calgary Tourism and other municipal employees from a variety of departments; other showcases targeted business and industry, the real estate community, the general public and the disabled community. A final showcase was held in January 2020 at Civic Tech and included the technology community. The showcases were important and successful. Pedesting is now a part of the public conversation in Calgary and many alliances and potential working relationships were formed as a result. The events also enabled the Pedesting team to actively recruit a variety of guest bloggers, as well as beta testers to assist us as we move forward to the next iteration of the app.

This important public introduction of the Pedesting app was only possible due to the funding from AREF. The Pedesting team was able to provide a professional event in safe and public venues such as the New Central Public Library and  the CMLC event space at the St. Louis Hotel. We were able to employ closed captioning and ASL interpreters for persons with hearing limitations as well as a modest variety of sandwiches or baked goods. The following are some pictures from the respective showcases:

We would like to express our appreciation to AREF for helping Pedesting to present the culmination of three years of research and software development. It was a rewarding experience for our team and we were proud to formally introduce the Pedesting app to the leaders, early adopters and citizens of Calgary.

For more information about the Pedesting™ app and to receive news and updates, please visit our website or follow us on social media (@pedesting)

New Information Hub On Accessibility Launched

Accessible U is a newly launched website that provides practical resources about residential accessibility in a friendly format. As a centralized location for data, research, toolkits and practical information, Accessible U makes relevant and understandable information readily available to anyone, anytime.

Accessible U is a resource for people living with a physical disability, for caregivers, advocates and health care providers. It is also useful for realtors, seniors-serving groups, community members, home builders and developers, informing and empowering them with knowledge they need, when they need it. It has been designed with rich, clear information on the basics of accessibility, how to modify or locate a home, community services and advocacy.

Accessible U is led by Accessible Housing, a Calgary not-for-profit, and was developed with the help of dozens of community members. These include persons with disabilities, experts from the health-care sector, construction companies and developers, public service staff, non-profit organizations, and college and university staff. Accessible U is Accessible Housing’s response to an information gap – – a tool aimed at placing helpful information in the hands of those who need it.

Find Accessible U online at www.accessibleuniversity.com.

About Accessible Housing

Accessible Housing is a Calgary not-for-profit organization that opens doors to homes that are accessible and affordable for people with limited mobility. Accessible Housing’s vision is that everyone has a home and belongs in community. For more information about Accessible Housing’s programs, services and clients, visit www.accessiblehousing.ca.

Accessible U is coming your way

Wanda’s father lives in an inner-city bungalow and he wants to stay in his home for as long as possible but he has been struggling to get around with his new walker. Wanda has been struggling to find practical ways to help him make modifications to his home so that he stays safe and healthy.

Ajay is looking for a new place to live after his son was in an accident that left him a paraplegic. Ajay isn’t sure what to look for, where to start, or what sort of housing his son will need in the next few years as he adjusts to his new life. He’s even reached out to home builders about building something brand new and to a realtor to help him find something appropriate.

Amal and Peter brought their newborn daughter home from the hospital and suddenly realized that with her significant physical disability, their home will need major renovations as she grows.

Carole has been using her wheelchair more frequently because her MS is becoming increasingly debilitating. Amongst many challenges in her home, navigating the multiple sets of stairs are a constant worry. She’s wondering what she could do to her home to maintain her independence for as long as possible.

Later this year, people like these will be able to find valuable resources on Accessible U, a new online knowledge hub which will offer help navigating the world of accessibility, barrier-free design and home modifications. Accessible U is an initiative launched by Accessible Housing, a Calgary not-for-profit organization operating since 1974 with a vision that everyone has a home and belongs in community. Created in response to weekly queries from individuals like these, and with the generous support of AREF, Accessible U will put the power of information back into the hands of the community and will be relevant and relatable to families, realtors, home builders, health care professionals and more. Along with the site launch, workshops and learning opportunities will be held to specific audience groups to help share the valuable knowledge long held in the minds of industry professionals, health care workers and people with the lived experience of disability.

Watch for the launch and learning opportunities later this month!