Wellington Secondary School. Nanaimo Ladysmith school board opted not to ask staff for an accessibility audit until at least next fall. (News Bulletin photo)

Nanaimo school district pushes back accessibility audit for now

Recommendation would see staff conduct accessibility audit, compile public document

Nanaimo Ladysmith school trustees decided they can wait until the fall to ask for a report on accessibility of the district’s schools.

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools staff were previously directed to examine the feasibility of an accessibility audit and were slated to vote on a recommendation at a May 13 meeting. Instead, they deferred asking staff to conduct the audit and compile the report.

Mark Walsh, school district secretary-treasurer, told the committee that staff have connected with organizations such as the Rick Hansen Foundation seeking input on what an audit would entail, and have asked other school districts about their audit experiences. The district does a lot of work on accessibility on a year-to-year basis, but it’s predominantly reactive, Walsh suggested.

“We have a student, or we have an adult that has a specific accessibility need in our school and so we respond to it at that time,” Walsh said. “And so we feel that having an audit, and being aware of where our gaps are, means that we can be just a little bit more proactive as we plan for [our] annual facilities grant, as we plan to upgrade schools during seismic or expansion, that we’ve got our eyes on the accessibility issues that a school may have.”

RELATED: Accessible McGirr school playground enables all kids to play

READ ALSO: SD68 opens learning centres for essential service workers’ kids

Trustee Tania Brzovic wondered how families of people with disabilities would be able to provide input and Walsh anticipated commentes would go to schools, teachers, principals and parent advisory councils.

“There was a time when I went to [Bayview Elementary School] and I couldn’t go in through the front entrance that everyone else uses,” said Brzovic. “So we need to be really careful that what a person who doesn’t have a disability considers to be accessible may not be the same for a person who uses a wheelchair, or has sight issues, or hearing issues. Accessibility involves a whole lot of things, so if we’re not getting input from people who actually are experiencing some of these disabilities, then we’re not getting a full picture.”

Walsh said district staff had concerns about workload and trustee Stephanie Higginson said it might be best to wait to pass the recommendation.

“My preference would be that we don’t move this recommendation yet and we wait for staff to come back, having heard our concerns, and trying to give us an update on how to address our concerns within their overall workload,” said Higginson.

The recommendation was deferred to the September business committee meeting.

“I’m uncomfortable with any consultation happening until we, as a board, make a decision around what our expectations are for what the audit looks like,” said Charlene McKay, board chairperson. “I don’t think that we can consult when we don’t actually have a plan or a motion in place … I’m happy to wait until September to discuss this after some further reflection by staff.”


Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black Lives solidarity demonstration fills Nanaimo park

Anti-racism protest held at Maffeo Sutton Park on Friday afternoon

Nanaimo RCMP seek help locating missing indigenous youth

Family of William Baker worries he’s in company of people putting him at risk

Nanaimo man wanted on assault warrants

John Bates wanted following two separate incidents from earlier this year

Stz’uminus motivational speaker and musician named ‘emerging cultural leader’ in Nanaimo

Patrick Aleck is among the recipients of the city’s Culture and Heritage Awards

Plan in place for B.C. Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Parcel stolen from front porch, Nanaimo RCMP looking for suspect

Unidentified woman allegedly stole package containing $400 smart watch

Most Read