Whistler has never been as accessible to people with disabilities, and one of the biggest reasons is that Huey Tollett has done his research.
In launching his Whistler For The Disabled website, Tollett looked at accommodations, restaurants, stores, facilities, recreation, tours and programs that are available, and arranged the information in such a way that it’s directly accessible to people with specific disabilities. He has also put together recreation guides for summer and winter months.
This week the B.C. Rehab Foundation presented Tollett with a Standing Ovation Award, recognizing his support of people with disabilities. He was presented with the award on Oct. 17 at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver.
Tollett did not apply for the award, and was surprised when he was chosen.
“It is a true honour for me to win this award for helping out people with disabilities by building Whistler for the Disabled and providing new access in our community,” he said. “So much has happened over the last year, it has been great.”
Some of the projects recognized by B.C. Rehab include Tollet’s work in securing TTY (teletypewriter) pay phones in Whistler for people who are hard of hearing.
He has also expanded his website as local companies are providing more service to disabled visitors, with everything from sign language to care for the developmentally disabled.
The Whistler for the Disabled restaurant and accommodations guides have also been expanded to include more options to people with disabilities.
Act Now B.C., a provincial fitness and health program, has also included a link to the Whistler for the Disabled website in their tips section for people with disabilities. Hello B.C., Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb, Whistler Adaptive Sports Program, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and the B.C. Rehab Foundation also refer to Tollett’s site.
“A lot more work is still needed to be done and we are hoping to bring Whistler more public access devices such as TTYs, working with corporations like Telus to achieve those goals,” said Tollett, who is himself hard of hearing. “At the same time (I’m) working with Whistler’s local business community to open up a new market for them and provide new access for the disabled.
“I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to, and supported, Whistler for the Disabled over the last year and who helped my visitors with special requests and requirements they had.”
Tollett made special mention of Chelsey Walker of the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program, Janet McDonald from the Whistler Community Services Society, Grant and Caroline Lamont, David Stein, Jay McKenzie, Andy Latter, Steve Biduk, and Rob and Wendy Wilde, among others.
The Standing Ovation Award was created in 2001 to acknowledge companies and organizations that have “gone the extra mile” for people with disabilities. Businesses are nominated from the public in seven categories — Transportation, Retail, Sport and Recreation, Tourism, Media, and Individual. Tollett won in the individual category.