National AccessAbility Week: May 29 to June 4

May 27, 2022 | Eleni

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This year, from May 29 to June 4, the Toronto Public Library is celebrating National AccessAbility Week. NAAW is a week to celebrate Canadians with disabilities and raise awareness of the importance of accessibility and inclusion for all in our communities.

National AccessAbility Week was founded in 1988 and was inspired by Rick Hansen who, in 1987, completed his Man in Motion World Tour where he travelled around the world in his wheelchair. His trip took him 26 months, during which he visited 34 countries and travelled 40,000 kilometres to raise awareness about inclusivity for people with disabilities, as well as raise money to help find a cure for paralysis. Rick is also the Founder of the Rick Hansen Foundation. His foundation supports and advocates for people with disabilities.

So, what is accessibility? Accessibility is the commitment to removing and preventing barriers for people with disabilities in the design of products, devices, services and spaces. An example could be building a ramp instead of stairs, using a microphone so everyone can hear what you are saying, or designing a quiet space for someone to go when they are feeling overstimulated. People with disabilities need things to be accessible so they can participate in an activity or complete a task. When we think about accessibility from the start, we are doing our part to ensure inclusion is possible for everyone.

Red Shirt Day is the Wednesday of National AccessAbility Week, and it takes place on June 1 this year. We wear red shirts on this day to be united in showing support for people with disabilities and their families. It is also a time for people to make a commitment to helping create a fully accessible and inclusive society for all. It's important to remember that while we celebrate National AccessAbility Week and Red Shirt Day once a year, the commitment we make is year-round and life-long.


Here are some recommended reads for kids in celebration of National AccessAbility Week and Red Shirt Day:


Cover image of A sky-blue bench

A Sky Blue Bench by Bahram Rahman, illustrated by Peggy Collins

When an accident leaves Aria with a prosthetic leg, she can no longer comfortably sit on the furniture or the floor at her school. She decides to build a bench for herself, inspiring all of her classmates that they can do anything they put their minds to.


Cover image of I will dance

I Will Dance by Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Julianna Swaney

Eve feels that her cerebral palsy and wheelchair will never allow her to dance, no matter how much she wants to. That is until her mom finds a dance class for all abilities, and all of Eve's dreams of dancing come true.


Cover image of Can bears ski?

Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus, illustrated by Polly Dunbar

Bear doesn't mean to ignore his dad or miss saying hello back to a friend. Often, he just doesn't hear them at all, or only hears them asking, "Can bears ski?" When his dad takes him to an audiologist, Bear learns that he is experiencing hearing loss and will need to start wearing hearing aids. Adjusting to his hearing aids is not always easy, but with the help of his dad, Bear will persevere!


Cover image of I love Vincent

I Love Vincent by Laura Ljungkvist

A lovely story told from the perspective of Scout, a seeing-eye dog who has graduated from a special training school and has been paired with a man named Vincent who is blind. They take very good care of each other everyday and make the perfect team!


Cover image of The secret code

The Secret Code by Dana Meachen Rau, illustrated by Bari Weissman

Oscar is blind and reads Braille. At school, he starts to teach his friend to read Braille. Soon, Oscar is inspiring his whole class to learn to read Braille, too.


Cover image of My friend uses leg braces

My Friend Uses Leg Braces by Kaitlyn Duling 

A non-fiction book about children who use leg braces and other mobility aids. A great book for beginner readers with a picture glossary at the end. This book is part of the All Kinds of Friends series.


Cover image of We move together

We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch and Anne McGuire, illustrated by Eduardo Trejos

This book celebrates differences and explores how people of different abilities navigate their everyday lives. The book is an excellent resource for families and teachers to start discussions about disability and accessibility with children.


Cover image of Lucas at the Paralympics

Lucas at the Paralympics by Igor Plohl, illustrated by Urška Stropnik Šonc

An inspiring and informative book about a lion named Lucas who attends the Summer Paralympics. While there, he gets to watch world-class athletes with disabilities compete in a wide range of sports.


Cover image of Roll on : Rick Hansen wheels around the world

Roll On: Rick Hansen Wheels Around the World by Ainslie Mason, illustrated by Ron Lightburn

Learn about Rick Hansen and his incredible Man in Motion World Tour! He travelled around the world in his wheelchair to raise awareness about inclusivity for people with disabilities, as well as raise money to help find a cure for paralysis.


Cover image of I am not a label

I Am Not a Label by Cerrie Burnell, illustrated by Lauren Baldo

This illustrated non-fiction book highlights biographies of 34 disabled artists, thinkers, athletes and activists from past and present day.


Cover image of The chance to fly

The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz

Nat Beacon loves musicals, but she has never been in a musical or seen an actor who uses a wheelchair be on a musical theatre stage. When her family moves to New Jersey, she finds a casting call for a kids' production of Wicked. As Nat also uses a wheelchair, she wonders if someone would ever cast her in this production.


Cover image of El deafo

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This funny, award-winning graphic novel is a loose autobiographical account of author Cece Bell, who experienced hearing loss at a young age and now uses hearing aids, known as her "Phonic Ears." Cece is worried about fitting in at school but soon finds her place in the world and some new friends along the way.


Accessibility at Toronto Public Library

Do you have any feedback about how we can make the library more accessible? If so, please contact us at [email protected] or 416-393-7099.


Edited May 30, 2022: clarified definition of accessibility in third paragraph.