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stopgap.ca: “Sure we’ll 3D-print you a ramp!”

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Image of two stopgap.ca ramps outside a store.

Whether for people with mobility aids, parents with strollers, or couriers with dollies, StopGap eases access to single-stepped storefronts (Photo: Luke Anderson)

How can you not love a crowdsourced accessibility project with a fun guerrilla marketing edge, that’s made-in-Canada with brilliant branding?

That’s what I thought when I first met Luke Anderson and his large, surprisingly lightweight, triangular wedge, spray-painted with “stopgap.ca”.

Luke’s invention is a “stop gap” measure, a ramp for wheelchairs (and other mobility challenges) that can be put in place quickly where needed; allowing everyone to boldly go where they’ve not been able to go before. Even better, stopgap.ca encourages and enables pretty much anyone to identify where ramps are needed in their community to overcome single-step barriers, and then easily make one of their own. The visibility of a StopGap ramp, with its bold and clever branding, brings attention to the wider issue while also providing the recipe to join the movement.

Due to physical barriers, our built environment prevents many people from accessing the spaces that they desire. StopGap’s mission is to help communities discover the benefits of barrier-free spaces and provide support to help people remove those barriers.

Photo of Luke Anderson meeting people at the Carleton Summit.

Founder Luke Anderson at Ottawa’s Accessibility Summit earlier this year​ (Photo: David Berman)

Crowdsourcing access: one step at a time

The StopGap Foundation was registered as a charitable organization in October 2013, but its roots date back to the fall of 2011. Luke started his first Community Ramp Project in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. Through material donations from local hardware stores and volunteer labour from inspired community residents, the Community Ramp Project was able to deploy ramps at no cost to 12 businesses with an inaccessible single-stepped entry.

The inclined plywood planes were brightly coloured to attract attention, stenciled with the project’s URL in order to direct everyone who sees the ramp on the street to learn more about the project. Since then numerous Community Ramp Projects have been launched with great success in various Toronto neighbourhoods as well as communities in other provinces including B.C.

Our hope is that a cross-Canada initiative will help pave the way for a more inclusive society free of barriers that prevent many people from experiencing all that their communities have to offer.

Let’s ramp it up

Will you join us? Imagine what becomes possible when the design community ramps up this initiative: it will influence policymakers to change current prohibitive legislation which creates a very difficult and costly process for any property owner interested in creating permanent barrier-free spaces.

Before long, we could be 3-D printing ramps all over the…wait. Egad: our own building is out of step! Gotta go build a StopGap—who’s in?

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Reviewed December 1, 2014


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