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New K-Days partnership works to make exhibition more accessible

Disability: Accessible by Design has partnered with Explore Edmonton and K-Days to assess the accessibility of this year’s event and suggest improvements for the coming years so that everyone can enjoy it.

Disability: Accessible by Design is a company that was started by Brad Bartko, an Edmontonian who uses a wheelchair and brings 3o years of lived experience with disability — including his experience with any lack of accessibility.

Bartko’s goal isn’t to just point out the problems and leave it to the company to fix them. Bartko comes to the table with the issues he and others have found and provides suggestions as to how to fix or address the issues in the future.

“It’s not about me. It’s about we,” Bartko said.

Bartko and his company are hiring eight to 10 people with disabilities to go to K-Days for a day and provide feedback on their experience: Was it accessible? And what changes they would suggest for coming years?

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Bartko added that the people he is hiring are to be similar to a “mystery shopper,” as they aren’t supposed to tell anyone why they are there or what they are doing. That way, Disability: Accessible by Design can get the most authentic and honest recommendations.

Disability: Accessible by Design reached out on Facebook, asking people with any kind of disability to message him if they were interested in going to K-Days for free to provide feedback on the event.

Bartko said in a Facebook post that he received an overwhelming number of messages from people applying to help. He said he received over 250 messages.

Bartko’s focus this year is on the outdoor setup of K-Days. He said the company will assess the Expo Centre in the future after the proposed updates are completed. The company will also not be assessing the accessibility of the rides because they are provided by a third-party company.

Click to play video: 'K-Days returns with 10 days of Edmonton’s best entertainment'

K-Days returns with 10 days of Edmonton’s best entertainment

“We’re all going to end up with a disability in some way, shape or form. It doesn’t matter. Disability does not discriminate,” Bartko said.

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Bartko added that being disabled is the largest demographic in the world besides race.

Bartko and his company believe it’s time that people start talking about accessibility as becoming disabled can happen at any time.

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