Darby Lee Young: Advocate for people with disabilities

Darby Lee Young wants Calgary to be among the most accessible cities in Canada, and she’s doing her part to realize that objective.

“Absolutely my hope and dream,” said Young. “In order for accessibility to work, period, everyone needs to be on the same plan. My favourite line is, as soon as there’s a barrier, my independence is gone. We should be removing those barriers so everyone can get in and feel inclusive. And not only people with disabilities; we’re talking seniors, families with strollers, we’re talking everybody.”

Rita Mingo, The Calgary Herald November 29, 2016 – Last Updated January 3, 2017

Young was born with mild cerebral palsy and is principal strategist with Level Playing Field, a consulting company that provides universal design solutions. This past summer she was recognized with the 2016 Western Legacy Award for Innovation by the Calgary Stampede, an institution near and dear to her heart.

“My first ever job was with the Stampede at 14,” Young said. “To win was extremely personal because it not only highlights and shows that people understand all the accessibility work that I’ve done over the years, but trying to make a difference with Level Playing Field. The Stampede were the first ones to look past my disability and say ‘hey, let’s give her a chance.’ ”

The focus of Level Playing Field is in line with her work on the city’s advisory committee on accessibility.

“Sitting on this committee, I noticed that a lot of the accessibility wasn’t to the extent of how we use the facility. It’s what the designers thought looked good on paper.”

Medically classified as a quadriplegic, few are as well versed in the issues of getting around this city than Young, who was born and raised here and lived one year in Denver as part of the national para-alpine ski team. Bringing Calgary up to par with a place like Vancouver is her ideal.

“We’ve definitely got a lot of different projects,” she said. “We’re consultants to East Village and making sure a lot of their projects will incorporate accessibility to the extent where it’s actually usable.”

Source The Calgary Herald


Level Playing Field is a consulting company that provides Universal Design solutions. We evaluate, develop and promote accessible and Universal Design for all urban environments including residential, commercial, recreational (arenas, festivals, conventions, etc.) and related services.

Our work manifests with the belief that all new and old environments, to the greatest extent possible, should be accessible by everyone regardless of their age, ability or circumstance. Level Playing Field works with corporate and institutional sectors including government, hotels, restaurants, airlines, schools, recreational centres, cruise lines, festival promoters and many more.

We promote the concept of Universal Design in both construction and manufacturing disciplines, through research, design assistance and training. We are uniquely qualified individuals that have lived experience and have the ability to train individuals on how to make the world universally accessible for all.

We collaborate with builders and manufacturers on the development of new design solutions. We also develop publications and instructional materials, and provide information, referrals and technical assistance to individuals, families, professionals and companies, both nationally and internationally.

Level Playing Field comes into an occupied facility and after thorough analysis provides a report of observations and recommendations to make the space inclusive for all.

Although construction services are not provided by Level Playing Field, we are available to work with the contractor to ensure the changes are completed correctly. We work with architects and designers from the drawing stage through construction completion with project contractors, providing barrier free Universal Design solutions, with the ultimate goal of making the world we live in as accessible as possible to everyone.

Until you are in a situation where you are disabled, it is hard to imagine that getting around within a city is a challenge. Level Playing Field is here to help remove the barriers and make the world inclusive for all.

We are surprisingly thoughtful, fiercely creative, we get results and we are here to stay!

Source Level Playing Field

Call 403-240-9100