Sunday, May 25, 2008

Canadian architect advocates for barrier-free access

Canadian architect Ron Wickman grew up with a father who used a wheelchair and learned as a toddler that his father couldn't enter many buildings through the front door because of their inaccessibility, or many homes at all.

Wickman, a national expert in accessibility and barrier-free design in Canada, wrote an article about the need for more barrier-free design in Canadian Architect magazine.

"My father and I rarely entered a building in the same way as the majority of others; the service entrance was the norm for us," he writes. "We were also less likely to visit friends at their homes."

So in his career as an architect, he advocates for home visitability and universal access to public buildings.

"I now realize how easy it is to design a building or space to be more usable by more people, including persons with disabilities," he says. "The concept of 'visitability' is one of the simplest and most economical approaches to universal design that can address homeowners' and community needs over time, contributing to a more flexible and sustainable built environment. Visitability ensures that everyone--regardless of mobility--will be able to at least visit someone else's home and use the washroom."

For more information about visitability in Canada, go to Visitability Canada. In the USA, go to Concrete Change.