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Creating universally accessible business

Universal Access opens doors for Calgarians with disabilities

April 20, 2017 by Centaine Tyler on Universal Access

Before his accident, Sean Crump admits to not giving accessibility a second thought. A broken neck and 13 years later, accessibility is the basis of his business: Universal Access.

Universal Access is an auditing company that grades other businesses on their ability to accommodate all patrons utilizing Universal Design. Sean is the CEO and Head Chair – pun “absolutely intended” he says, as Sean uses an electric wheelchair. He says the experiences of other disabled people as well as his own, such as going out for dinner with his girlfriend, as well as his previous experience auditing spaces regarding accessibility, helped him develop the idea.

“We’d have to call ahead to make sure the restaurant was accessible, only to arrive and see two steps up into the restaurant. It can definitely ruin your plans,” he says.

“I couldn’t imagine someone going on a first date, for example, and how humiliating that would be for someone who already has anxieties over being in public spaces with their disability. How hard it would be not having that confidence in knowing these places could cater to their needs.”

Universal Access offers certifications in three tiers: bronze, silver, and gold. These certifications employ five global principles of universal design -- broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to all people. The higher the score, the more universally accessible it is.

“Something that’s surprised us is once we highlight where a business falters in accessibility, you can see them take that onus on themselves – almost kicking themselves for not realizing it, even though they wouldn’t unless it affects their day-to-day lives,” says Sean.

“It’s not intentional, there just needs to be that education and understanding of what an acceptable level of accessibility looks like.” The goal of Universal Access is to help businesses create environments that make anyone with a disability have the same experience as everyone else in the room, and to highlight where these venues are located for people to easily make plans with full confidence.

Sean hopes to eventually develop a mobile app for Universal Access, while also collaborating with existing apps, helping people easily find accessible businesses in their area.

“I want to create that ease for not just the disabled person, but for their families and support systems as well. I want to help these people feel less reluctant to go out and experience life, to try new restaurants, to travel new places. Just like everybody else.”

TAKE ACTION:

  1. Sean’s approach to doing business differently will be showcased at the Innovating for Shared Prosperity event on April 27 from 5-9 p.m. at Hotel Blackfoot. Part of REAP’s 9th annual Down to Earth Week. Click here for details.
  2. Curious about other REAP businesses that are Innovating for Shared Prosperity? Click here to read our article about the event.
  3. Want to contribute to a Calgary that is accessible to everyone? Get your business certified by Universal Access! Click here to get started.
  4. Looking for information about which Calgary businesses are accessible? Watch this page for the growing number of businesses that are getting certified by Universal Access.
  5. Connect with Universal Access on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
  6. Check out Universal Access’ Sustainability Profile.