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Disabilities Issues Office to Become the Manitoba Accessibility Office: Stefanson
To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Manitoba government has named the winners of the first annual Manitoba Accessibility Awards, recognizing their commitment to improving accessibility for all, Families Minister Heather Stefanson, minister responsible for accessibility, announced today.  
 
“Manitoba joins people across the world in promoting the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities, today and every day,” said Stefanson. “The 2020 Manitoba Accessibility Awards recognize leaders in our communities who have shown their commitment to inclusion and equity for Manitobans with disabilities.”  
 
The six winners of the Manitoba Accessibility Awards were chosen from dozens of submissions from across the province and were announced during a webinar earlier this afternoon. They are:
large business – Winnipeg Airports Authority, Winnipeg;
small business – Red Apple, Stonewall;
urban non-profit organization – Gateway Church, Winnipeg; 
rural non-profit – Woodlands Pioneer Museum, Woodlands;
large municipality – City of Selkirk; and
small municipality – Rural Municipality of Victoria Beach.
 
In their submissions, each organization highlighted the importance of working in collaboration with community partners to overcome barriers, and especially with people who have lived experience with obstacles to accessibility. Stefanson noted that each organization has made accessibility a priority, resulting in progress that has benefited its entire community.
 
“True community accessibility requires the entirety of the supply chain effectively working together to ensure the services offered at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport reflect the diverse needs of our community,” said Barry Rempel, president and CEO, Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA). “WAA is proud of the leadership role we have been able to play through development of a local accessibility committee to guide informed decisions to offer a more accessible and inclusive airport environment to serve our community.”
 
“Do not view making your organization accessible as an insurmountable task, but start by candidly identifying barriers,” said Judith Olson, vice-president, Woodlands Pioneer Museum. “You will have taken the most important step. Removing one barrier at a time is absolutely achievable.”
 
The minister also noted the province’s Disabilities Issues Office has been renamed the Manitoba Accessibility Office, effective today. The office’s work focuses on improving accessibility for all Manitobans, including those with disabilities, and the new name reflects this renewed focus.  
 
“Accessibility benefits every Manitoban,” said Stefanson. “Together, we are identifying and eliminating barriers that stand in the way of full inclusion and participation in our society for all. The Manitoba Accessibility Office will continue to be a critical resource for all Manitobans on these issues, providing guidance, resources and expertise.”
 
Accessibility is a long-term goal with short-term priorities across the Manitoba government. For more information on accessibility in Manitoba, visit www.accessibilitymb.ca. The webinar of the award presentations will be posted at this website in the coming weeks. Manitobans can also subscribe to a bi-monthly newsletter, Accessibility News, at this site.
 
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