Parks Accessibility Conference 2022
You can find recordings of our entire 3-day conference here:
- Day 1 – Tuesday, August 23, 2022 English French
- Day 2 – Wednesday, August 24, 2022 English French
- Day 3 – Thursday, August 25, 2022 English French
You can also find descriptions of each of our presenters along with links to their specific presentations below.
Day 1 Presenters:
Tilak Dutta is a Scientist at KITE and is part of the Home and Community Team. The objective of Tilak’s work is to develop better tools to support successful aging in our own homes. Tilak’s team is currently working on this multi-year project to develop recommendations for making Canada’s national parks barrier free by 2040. The long term vision of the team is to ensure individuals with disabilities and their caregivers are able to participate in all activities offered at Canada’s national parks.
One in five Canadians over the age of 15 and one in twenty children under the age of 15 have a disability. The Accessible Canada act requires that our national parks become accessible to these individuals and their caregivers by 2040.
Tilak holds cross-appointments at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto.
Maayan Ziv is an activist, photographer and entrepreneur. In 2015, she launched AccessNow, a mobile app and website that collects and shares information about the accessibility status of places worldwide. What began as a response to her frustration when trying to navigate inaccessible places, AccessNow soon grew to become a mission-oriented social start-up. Within just a couple years AccessNow has vocalized a movement for inclusion, inviting people of all abilities to contribute to the platform.
As CEO of AccessNow, Maayan has created a powerful shift in thinking about the importance of accessibility in our world, from accessible technologies to infrastructure, public policy, media and communications. To date AccessNow has shared accessibility information in over 35 countries.
An influential public speaker who is often in the media, Maayan collaborates with private sector companies as well as government and not-for-profit organizations. She is leading a movement, challenging norms and empowering others to make the future accessible and inclusive for all.
Lawrence Gunther is a conservationist, outdoor writer, podcaster, blogger, film maker and TV personality. A life-long outdoor enthusiast, Lawrence has travelled extensively throughout Canada to experience and document the country’s amazing natural resources and diverse peoples. Having earned his master’s in environmental studies from York University, Lawrence went on to establish the charity Blue Fish Canada, dedicated to conserving Canada’s water quality and fish health. Despite being registered blind at age eight, Lawrence has leveraged his visualisation and storytelling skills to open people’s minds to Canada’s underwater worlds. His work has been recognized with numerous awards including the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal.
Julie Sawchuk is a best-selling author, accessibility strategist and educator at Sawchuk Accessible Solutions. After sustaining a spinal cord injury in 2015, Julie turned to educating everyone about accessibility. Obtaining the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility CertificationTM (RHFAC) professional designation in 2018 led Julie to complete accessibility ratings for commercial and institutional buildings all across Ontario. Julie has helped the owners of century-old buildings, as well as brand new infrastructure, achieve meaningful levels of accessibility. Julie’s work allows all people to benefit from the principles of universal access.
For 2022/23, Julie will be the Chair of the Standards Development Committee for the review of the Design of Public Spaces under the AODA. She is also a key member of the CSA B652 Accessible Housing Building Standard Technical Committee planned for release in 2022. As a part of this team, Julie is gearing up to help people see that accessible living spaces are possible and practical by developing educational materials to help implement this new standard.
Hi everyone, my name is Megan Deal. My father, James, was a farmer but recently retired to be my night medical caregiver. My mother, Sheryl, is my day medical caregiver. I was born with a disability called Larsen’s Syndrome. My primary health concerns are that I have C6 partial quadriplegic, scoliosis, hearing loss, and respiratory issues. I have had over 30 surgeries throughout my life.
While in high school, I was exposed to Drafting and recognized it as a tool to create change. When I was in grade 9, there were some classes I knew I wouldn’t be able to do because of my disability. So, I decided to take some Computer Drafting online courses and fell in love doing it. Once I did those computer drafting courses, I found out there was this other program called AutoCAD, and I took the rest of my high school year to do some AutoCAD online courses. Despite my disability, I have learned throughout my life how to solve problems that would help me live my life easier. I have noticed that public places are not fully accessible. I get frustrated when public areas aren’t fully accessible because I can’t access these areas or participate in those public events. After I graduated from high school, I enrolled in Architectural Technologies at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, because I wanted to learn how buildings get built. I want to help show people that we can make public areas and
even residential areas functionally accessible using my knowledge of Architecture and skills in computer drafting. Hopefully, I can get into a career in advising and help people make public and residential areas fully accessible for everyone.
Julie is an educator and activist with two decades of experience in policy, outreach, grant writing, and qualitative research. As a Media and Outreach Specialist for MonTECH, the Montana assistive technology program run by the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities at the University of Montana, she currently connects people with disabilities with technology that maintains and/or improves their functional capabilities. She served on the Government Relations Advisory Committee for the Multiple Sclerosis Society from 2018-2020, doing research and lobbying leaders to enact paid family medical leave, Medicare for all, and inclusion of people with disabilities in disaster planning. She earned a PhD in English from the University of New Mexico in 2017. An educator and activist at heart, she has taught at Universities in New Mexico, California, and Montana, and worked with programs for disabled veterans, substance recovery programs, and mutual aid groups bringing health care to uninsured and homeless populations.
Regardless of living with cerebral palsy, Matthew Corkum achieved a PhD in atmospheric science. His one-line jokes often lighten the mood as he describes the weather and inclusiveness. He spends most weekends in the mountains exploring on his bike, skiing or hiking!
Leah is a bilingual Deaf entrepreneur who educates individuals, small businesses and corporations about inclusive communication strategies through her SignAble Vi5ion Inc business. A consultant, trainer, sign language instructor, artist and advocate for inclusion striving for ‘Access for All, Everyone Wins.’
Naz has actively been involved in ensuring Ontario reaches its mandate to be accessible by 2025. Her engagement in the Accessible Advisory Committees and the community has allowed her to express her voice and opinions to remove barriers for all persons living with disabilities.
Meenu Sikand is a well regarded transformative leader in the areas of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA). She brings with her a true passion to create accessible, inclusive and welcoming communities and is a respected a champion of Human Rights and Social Inclusion. She is the only South-Asian woman in Canada who is inducted in the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame.
She brings 35 years of personal and professional experience advancing the disability agenda nationally and globally with a passion to remove barriers impacting women with disabilities, youth and seniors with a focus on racialized and immigrant communities through accessibility planning, policy changes and public education.
I’m Rizwana Kadernani, born with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) that limits all aspects of my life such as limited mobility function, vision impaired, and unable to become independent. I would like to use my limitations to learn and spread awareness so it can make positive changes.
Janis, CEO of Inclusive by Design is a dynamic motivating leader and award-winning entrepreneur. She is a member of an International Team of Academic Scholars leading the Research and Development of Physical Literacy Enriched Environmental Design in complement with Universal Design in Outdoor Environments.
Kari Krogh (she/her), Ph.D. Psychology, is co-founder of EcoWisdom Forest Preserve where she lives and uses mindful nature connection to help manage symptoms of complex chronic illness. As a former professor of disability studies, health researcher and community developer, Kari is passionate about offering inclusive and accessible nature connection programs and nature guide training opportunities.
Paul Gauthier (he/him), executive director of the Individualized Funding Resource Centre (IFRC) Society is a well-recognized community leader, public speaker and Paralympian. Paul promotes and engages in EcoWisdom’s Accessible Nature Wellbeing Programs designed to be inclusive of people living with disability or chronic illness.
Ean Price (he/him) is founder of ICAN Resource Group Inc. as well as an Innovation Strategist for Technology for Living who advocates for independence through technology. When he is not spending time in national parks or traveling the world, Ean volunteers with AbleSail Okanagan and participates in EcoWisdom’s Accessible Nature Wellbeing Programs.
Kim Dunlop (she/her) is a Registered Massage and Shiatsu therapist and EcoWisdom Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide as well as a writer, teacher, and meditation guide. Kim draws upon her 20 years as a massage therapist and personal experience of using mindful nature connection to support her own health to promote self-care strategies for others.
Day 2 Presenters:
Marie-Hélène has been working in the Public Relations sector since 2004. Before joining Parks Canada, she worked at the University of Ottawa and at the Department of National Defense. In 2015, she joined Parks Canada as Manager of Ministerial Events and Liaison, where she led numerous events for the Agency. Over the past few years, she has had the opportunity to develop her leadership skills working in the office of the Executive Director, Quebec and Nunavut, as well as with the Vice-President, Aboriginal Affairs and Cultural Heritage at Parks Canada. Currently the Acting Director, Visitor Experience, Marie-Hélène leads a team of experts who are working to provide equally meaningful experiences to all, helping visitors discover and connect with Parks Canada administered place.
Bonnie Lewkowicz has worked for more than 40 years advocating, educating, and creating increased access to outdoor recreation for people with disabilities. She has a B.A. degree in Therapeutic Recreation and this professional experience combined with her personal experience of nearly fifty years as a wheelchair user, gives her the expertise to work on a wide range of disability access issues.
Currently she serves as a program manager at Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP) in Berkeley, California where she manages a website of accessible trails, consults about accessibility, and advocates for disability to be included in the broader discussion about diversity, equity and inclusion in the outdoors. She authored several accessible trail resources including the book, A Wheelchair Rider’s Guide: San Francisco Bay and Nearby Coast, and two websites; Access Northern California and Wheeling Cal’s Coast. She is a member of the Land Trust Alliance Disability Council and has co-authored a guide titled, Open To All: A Disability Inclusion Guide to Land trusts.
Lori Gray is the Outings and Adventure manager at Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program. Her work in the field of adapted outdoor recreation started more than 40 years ago. First working as a white water rafting, sea kayak, and cross-country ski guide for Environmental Traveling Companions before joining BORP 22 years ago. As the Adventures and Outings manager she organizes and leads outdoor adventures for people of all abilities, conducts disability awareness trainings for park staff, and is an ardent advocate of parks for all people. Lori works tirelessly to educate others about the need for equal access to parks. In 2020 she was voted Californian of the Year from the Outdoor Writers Association of California.
Noah Papatsie was born and raised in Iqaluit Nunavut’s Capital with 7 sisters and now father of 5, three of which whom are adopted. He worked with Inuit Broadcasting Corporation as a technical Producer and became Executive Producer during after many years in service.
Noah had an accident during work which left him blind but that did not stop him going after the accident and during recovery process.
Over the years, he became councillor for city of Iqaluit 2013/15. 2017-present is the chair for Disability Advisory Committee. He was the President 2005/2015/2017 for CACL (Canadian Association for Community Living) now known as Inclusion Canada.
Maria Jose Aguilar Carrasco
Maria has a Ph.D.c. in Transportation and Territory Infrastructures in the Urbanism Department of the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), Spain. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences (ETSICCP) 2015, and Agricultural Engineering (ETSIAM) 2006, (UPV). Maria is a member of Urban Forests Research Hub at Faculty of Forestry, and researcher collaborator for the project of Providing Accessible ReCreation Outdoors: User-Driven Research on Standards (PARCOURS), Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy (OSOT) at Faculty of Medicine both at University of British Columbia (UBC). Her main research interest is focused on connecting nature with all intersectionality realities, especially people with disabilities, her main PhD’s paradigm.
Isabelle Ducharme, President of the Board of Directors of Kéroul, has been involved in social integration activities for people with disabilities for over twenty years.
Her personal experience of living with a spinal cord injury since her car accident in 1988, combined with her master’s degree in tourism management and planning at UQAM university in Montreal, give her a unique perspective on the barriers faced by tourists with disabilities and on solutions to be implemented to promote tourism for all.
My name is Mary. I am a person with a disability. I love going out into nature. I use to be an ambassador with Alberta Parks Push To Open program. My job was to educate others about how everyone belongs outside. Currently, I am a full-time 3rd-year university student in the Bachelor of Arts in Social Justice and Catholic Studies at St. Mary University in Calgary, Alberta.
Trisha is the National Manager of Programs and Inclusion Initiatives at the Trans Canada Trail, Canada’s national Trail network. Recognizing the many barriers that prevent full participation, Trisha manages national initiatives to remove barriers and make trail opportunities, and the trail sector, inclusive, accessible, safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Cybele Sack is a consultant with a focus on inclusive design, digital accessibility, and social transformation. She’s an award-winning coach for social innovation hackathons and entrepreneurship in Canada; she has coached diverse teams with multiple events and organizations.
She is a co-author of and invited expert with the next generation of digital accessibility standards with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). She led accessible co-designs with the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCADU. She’s a co-author of a chapter in the next core textbook for Canadian Occupational Therapists. She produces and moderates panels addressing ableism in health care for UBC’s Inclusive Campus and is a researcher on a national project on redesigning equitable post-secondary education.
She began her career as an interpreter at Point Pelee National Park and continued as a researcher with Parks Canada’s national headquarters. Her interest in accessibility at national parks was sparked by her undergraduate thesis in trail accessibility and universal design.
She has been published in the Globe and Mail, New York Times, NOW Magazine, CTV News, CBC News and TVOntario.
Cedra, Inclusive by Design Executive Assistant and Accessibility Specialist, has a background of diverse experience, including riding a horse to school, international travel, long haul trucking, and 10 years professionally in Visitor Centre Management. She has completed training with AccessNow, the Rick Hansen Foundation, and has Level 3 certification in Universal Design from AccessBC.
Ashley Lyn Olson
Ashley Lyn Olson grew up camping and hiking, became paralyzed at the age of fourteen, graduated with honors from the University of Southern California, and started wheelchairtraveling.com in 2006 with a mission of making access to the outdoors possible through research, education, and advocacy. In addition to creating a plethora of guides and videos on this subject, as well as a detailed report summarizing her findings from fifteen years of fieldwork, Olson has helped to organize public forums and ranger-led hikes with the U.S. National Park Service.
Kristen Habermehl is the principal of Atlantic Accessibility and an active part of increasing access across the country; bringing both passion and balance, with advocacy for inclusion. As the lead instructor for the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification training program in the East Coast, as well as a consultant performing accessibility audits and ratings, Kristen works with a myriad of professionals both in educating and increasing meaningful access in the built environment. She has worked as a consultant with many distinguished clients, such as Sable Island National Park Reserve, Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, Develop Nova Scotia, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax International Airport, NSCC, and many more.
Denise Vasquez is a published photographer, artist, and author based in Yucca Valley, CA. Referred to by the media as being a “Modern Day Renaissance Woman”, Denise is also the Founder of The Disabled Photographer Project & How Accessible Is Accessible series.
Day 3 Presenters:
Mahadeo is Canada’s first blind biomedical research scientist, with more than 20 years’ experience as an academic researcher and educator. He leads the research program for CNIB and our two affiliate organizations, Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada and CNIB Deafblind Community Services, and is the principal investigator for research projects to understand the lived experience of persons who are blind, Deafblind, and partially sighted in Canada. Mahadeo also leads CNIB’s international affairs work. As CNIB’s Chief Accessibility Officer, he oversees all three organizations’ cultural change efforts on accessibility and inclusion for persons with disabilities and intersecting social identities.
Mike Prescott is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at Laval University in Geomatics and works with Simon Fraser University’s Gerontology Department. Mike has over 35 years of academic, professional, and lived experience in the area of disability, mobility, accessibility, and inclusion in cities, parks, sports, recreation, and tourism. His current project, PARCOURS, seeks to inform accessibility standards in national parks. He was previously the Manager, Accessible Tourism, promoting BC to the world prior to the 2010 Games. Currently, he is the project manager for the Accessible Organizations Project in British Columbia tasked with helping organizations to develop accessibility plans.
Carinna is the Director of Programs and Impact at Power To Be, a charity in Victoria and Vancouver that removes barriers for people living with challenges and different abilities and supports people to access nature through recreation, health and wellness initiatives and community collaborations. These strategic partnerships have connected people, places, and practices and through creative collaborations we have moved the notions of inclusion in the outdoors forward collectively.
Tanelle Bolt is the founder of RAD Recreation Adapted Society, a Canadian registered charity that has established a growing inventory of outdoor adaptive equipment accessible for short term rental to those living with mobility challenges. Her advocacy and consulting role extend into the visitor experience and built environment with the education and experience in building design, development and service delivery.
Patrick is the Team Lead for the Outdoor Pursuits program at Prospect Human Services. With over 9 years experience as a certified wilderness guide and adventure medic, Patrick and his team lead trips throughout southern Alberta providing access to the outdoors for individuals with developmental disabilities. Prospect’s Outdoor Pursuits team uses Alberta’s vast wilderness settings to support individuals with developmental disabilities to develop essential employment skills and support an inclusive community. Patrick is an outstanding advocate for Alberta’s wilderness to be used as a platform for skill development and enhanced quality of life.
Born in the UK and now a proud Canadian Citizen, Jamie resides in Canmore, Alberta. His first experience of adaptive sport and recreation was when teaching his sister, Claire, to ski. Following this, he worked as a ski instructor in Andorra and spent summers working as a care worker for adults with neurodivergencies. From that moment on, he knew the path his future was to take.
The Winter of 2001/02 saw Jamie come to Canada, where he has spent his time working for Sunshine Village as a ski instructor. At the same time, he saw a gap in the ski industry lesson opportunities offered and started to develop and then coordinator the Sunshine Village Adaptive Ski and Ride Program. For 6 years he lived a continuous Winter spending the Canadian Summer months in New Zealand, furthering his adaptive experience by working for Disabled Snowsports. Here, while working as an adaptive trainer, instructor, and coach, he met an incredible community of individuals.
His enthusiasm, passion and experience for adaptive sport and recreation lead him to co-found Rocky Mountain Adaptive, where he works in the position of Executive Director, developing the organization, advocating for adaptive sport and recreation, and still making time for his main passion – working hands on with individuals of amazing abilities.
Tracey J. Dickson is an Associate Professor of Event and Tourism Management in the Canberra Business School, University of Canberra, Australia, and an Associate Member of the Research Institute of Sport and Exercise (UCRISE), University of Canberra. Tracey’s research is informed by her earlier experiences working in outdoor and experiential education. This experience piqued her interest about how we can minimize the physical risks of being outdoors in order to maximize the health and wellbeing benefits of being outdoors across the lifespan. This has led to a diverse range of research projects on snowsport injury prevention, alpine accessibility, and social legacies of volunteering and sport participation from mega sport events like the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Drawing upon her knowledge and expertise Tracey has been Chair of the NSW National Parks’ Minister’s Advisory Council and is a current a member of one of the NSW National Parks’ Regional Advisory Committees.
Simon is a Professor of Social Inclusion in the Management Department of the UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney. He has a professional background and a Masters in Environmental Planning together with being one of the first accredited access auditors in Australia. Over his career he has researched, contributed to policy development and advocated for improved access and inclusion in the natural environment. Simon has contributed to the recent United Nations World Tourism Organization (2021)
Accessibility and Inclusive Tourism Development in Nature Areas, as well as completing major research projects on beach access and adaptive sport legacy outcomes on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic games. He regularly consults with government, the private and third sector organisations. As a person with a high level spinal cord injury and power wheelchair user, Simon enjoys getting out into the outdoors and on aquatic environments.
Julie Nowak (she/they) is a multiply-disabled educator, activist, writer, and consultant based near Tkaronto (known as Toronto, Canada). Her work focuses on the intersection of disability justice, nature connection, body liberation, and food justice, through her project called “The Seasonal Body” – which you can follow at SeasonalBody.org
With over 20 years experience in various roles with the Disability Foundation and its six affiliated charities, David has a wide background in areas of accessibility and inclusion. One of those roles involves the development of the TrailRider, a unique assistive device for adaptive hiking. David has been integral to helping turn the TrailRider into a social venture of the BC Mobility Opportunities Society, and bring the TrailRider to organizations and communities around the world.
Mark Groulx is an Associate Professor in UNBC’s School of Planning and Sustainability and a Registered Professional Planner. Mark’s research focuses broadly on sustainable and resilient communities, and specifically on the importance of community engagement and placemaking in effective collaborative planning. Inspired by the creativity and careful craft of place makers of all types, Mark explores how communities are tapping into local knowledge and values to ensure that planning and design for inclusive and resilient communities is person-centred.
Mark is currently working on projects examining community-based approaches to low-carbon resilience, and is leading the SSHRC funded Nature for All project. The Nature for All project includes a diverse network of academic, tourism sector, not for profit, and government partners collaborating in the development and use of new tools to document accessibility in nature-based tourism and recreation spaces. The project supports an evidence-based approach to promoting inclusive experiences across BC’s nature continuum through barrier-free design.