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North Shore accessibility advocate tackles frequent obstacle
It’s the seemingly small things that can make Pam Horton’s life difficult.
Businesses that lack automated doors are one of her biggest obstacles — a problem she sees far too often on the North Shore.
Even when stores are accommodating, the buttons are often in inappropriate places, making it difficult or impossible for Horton to get in on her own.
Always ready to educate shop owners on wheelchair accessibility, she approached Rosemary Rocksalt on 16th and Lonsdale after noticing the store’s front door wasn’t wheelchair friendly.
“I’m the co-founder of Nurse Next Door, a home healthcare company, so I felt particularly embarrassed about this blunder,” said Ken Sim, co-owner of Rosemary Rocksalt, at a recent plaque dedication to Horton, who campaigns for accessibility on the North Shore.
As someone who has MS and has used a scooter for 24 years, Horton’s expertise helped him work out the details and go beyond minimum codes for the door.
Horton says new developers or store owners looking to put in wheelchair-friendly doors should seek the advice of people in wheelchairs to avoid putting buttons in the wrong places.
“We can always find things wrong but the North Shore as a whole is pretty accessible,” she tells The Outlook. “The City of North Vancouver has been a leader around accessibility for years.”
Small improvements, such as curve ramps and keeping sidewalks clear, are among the most important. Every public bus on the North Shore is wheelchair friendly and buses in North Van give audible location announcements, a valuable addition for people in wheelchairs who can’t look out the window easily.
“These are big improvements, they matter,” says Johnstone, who recently helped the Centennial Theatre become completely wheelchair accessible.
Her biggest vision, however, isn’t a reality yet.
“My dream is to have a bylaw that requires that there be push-buttons for doors… on all store fronts,” she says.