Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Visitability gets some news coverage

Laura Johnson in her visitable home.
Photo from Knoxville News.

Visitability strives to make homes more accessible to people with disabilities. Concete Change in Georgia, which developed the concept, defines it as a movement "to change home construction practices so that virtually all new homes -- not merely those custom-built for occupants who currently have disabilities -- offer a few specific features that make the home easier for people who develop mobility impairments to live in and visit."

The spirit of the idea says "it's not just unwise, but unacceptable that new homes continue to be built with gross barriers -- unacceptable, given how easy it is to build basic access in the great majority of new homes, and given the harsh effects major barriers have on so many people's lives. These easily-avoided barriers cause daily drudgery, unsafe living conditions, social isolation, and forced institutionalization. "

The Knoxville (Tenn.) News wrote about that city's Metropolitan Planning Commission's suggestions, "requiring visitability features in some homes getting public funding, certifying homes that meet visitability standards and creating literature to promote the idea to consumers and home builders."

Eleanor Smith, a wheelchair user who founded Concrete Change, says the concept of visitability dawned on her because: "I had paid the price of lack of access over and over again, when I could not go to friends' parties, suffered from being unable to get my wheelchair through bathroom doors when visiting, faced great difficulty finding an apartment or house I could rent."