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Accessibility & Inclusive Design

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According to Visitable Housing Canada, “VisitAble Housing or VisitAbility is the concept of designing and building homes with basic accessibility. VisitAble homes provide easy access on the main level for everyone. VisitAble housing offers a convenient home for residents and a welcoming environment for visitors in all ages and mobility.” 

 

Visitable homes have three basic accessibility features:

 

No Step Entrance - At minimum, there must be one accessible, no-step entrance at the front, back or side of the house.

Clear Passageways - All doorways and halls must be wider so there is clear passage throughout the main floor. 

Accessible Bathroom - The bathroom or powder room on the main floor must be accessible by visitors who use mobility devices.

 

These visitable homes not only appeal to people living with disability, but also to young families with strollers, and older people who anticipate changes in mobility as they age and want to age in place. Here in Manitoba, the neighbourhood of Bridgewater in South Winnipeg meets visitable design standards. According to Manitoba Housing, the provincial department responsible for the neighbourhood of Bridgewater, the development will include over 1,000 visitable homes and hundreds of multi-family units with visitable features. To date, more than 200 of these homes have already been built.

 

As societal demand for accessible and sustainable housing grow, and accessibility laws stretch beyond provincial building codes for new residences, we should see more initiatives like Bridgewater in this province, making our communities more inclusive by design. At the very least it is a step in the right direction. See my comment reply to this post for how Canada's Visitability Standards fall short of those in the US.

 

For more information on visitable housing visit:

 

http://www.bridgwaterneighbourhoods.com/vision.php

 

http://visitablehousingcanada.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Wpg-VisitAbility-TF-Intents-Summary-2015-July-revised.pdf

 

 

Marnie Courage, OT Reg (MB)

Managing Director of Enabling Access Inc.

Comments

Marnie Courage on Apr 21, 2016 10:33 PM
It should be noted that in the US, visitability goes beyond what VistAbility Canada outlines in this post and in fact requires 7 accessibility features:

-At least one entrance without a step that is on an accessible path of travel from the street, sidewalk or driveway. An accessible path of travel has no steps, is at least 36 in. wide and is not steeper than 1:20 (5% grade) for walkways or 1:12 for ramps.
- Low thresholds
- Throughout the ground floor, doorways designed to provide 32 inches clear space.
- Throughout the ground floor, hallways that have at least 36 in. of clear width.
- Basic access to a half bath or full bath on the ground floor. As defined here, basic access simply denotes sufficient depth within the bathroom for a wheelchair to enter, and for its user to close the door behind it. Basic access to a full bath is preferable.
- Reinforcement in walls next to toilets for future installation of grab bars.
- Electrical switches and outlets not lower than 18 inches to center, nor higher than 48 inches to center. (This element is included in some, but not all visitability initiatives.)

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