Participants in Concordia University’s Enable Montreal competition on Friday unveiled their solutions to make the city more accessible.
Nine teams made up of students, entrepreneurs and disability rights activists showed off their accessible designs.
Teams got to pitch their solutions to city officials as well as to the public.
Kenechukwu Nnodu, who took part in the event, gets around the city by wheelchair and knows all too well how public transit can get in the way of the simplest of things, like going out.
“One year ago I wanted to hang out with some of my friends and because we didn’t get to take a Metro we could not get there and we could not have fun,” Nnodu said.
That negative experience alone motivated Nnodu to seek out change. For Nnodu, the Enable Montreal showcase was ideal for him.
“When I heard there was a program that wanted to make accessibility a priority in Montreal, for me it was a perfect opportunity to join, learn and discuss.”
Concordia’s Office of Community Engagement and five partner organizations brought the event together.
Nine teams had three months to come up with a solution to an issue affecting physically disabled Montrealers.
Nnodu’s team mandate was to make the Metro system more user-friendly for the visually and hearing impaired.
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They designed an interactive button system for voice signals and a guiding floor tread.
City officials who attended the public showcase admit there is work to be done.
“There is a lot we can work on, obviously. Our priority is mobility,” executive committee member Rosannie Filato said.
But Filato says things are being set in motion to better the living standards of the physically disabled.
“In the last few months, we have been making sure that, in the short-term and the long-term plan, our buses and our Metros will be more accessible,” Filato said.
Montreal has its faults, Nnodu says, but it is not the worst city when it comes to accessibility.
Although when it comes to concrete changes, all he can do is hope after speaking with Filato.
“She said they were working on it, but working on it — I don’t know how long it is going to take,” Nnodu said.
The event, however, did bring many together to discuss and aim for changing the city for the better.
“Sometimes we try to network and pool our problems and pool our solutions,” Marc Baillargeon said. “That is what this event is all about.”