Visitability: A Way of Thinking About Aging and Design

As the population ages and more people are living with physical disabilities, housing and community development must be re-examined. Inaccessible homes impede the daily lives of people who are mobility impaired due to illness, accident or age. Visitors to inaccessible homes face the danger of falling on the entry steps, the worry of not fitting into a bathroom and the embarrassment of being carried up the stairs. An affordable, sustainable and inclusive design approach for integrating basic accessibility features into all newly built homes is a movement known as Visitability.

In 1988, The Fair Housing Amendments Act created accessible units in all new multi-family housing apartments and condos with four or more units. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act greatly increased accessibility to all government and public buildings. But detached single-family houses and town homes, where the majority of the population lives, are the last part of the built environment that is not covered by federal law. No accessibility codes exist. To date, private houses and town homes continue to be built with the same basic accessibility barriers: steps at all entrances and narrow doors to bathrooms.

In an effort to pass legislation for accessibility in new single-home construction, Eleanor Smith, the founder of Concrete Change, started the Visitability Movement in the US. The movement asks that three basic accessibility needs be met:

* One zero-step entrance on an accessible route from a driveway or public sidewalk.

* Doorways with a 32 "minimum clear passage space.

* A half bathroom on the main floor to accommodate a wheelchair.

If these three requirements are met in the construction of every new home, future adaptations for specialized needs can occur as needed. Visitability features make it easier for the mobility impaired to visit friends and family and to remain active in …

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Thinking About a Bathroom Remodel? Avoid These Mistakes

Many people have finally come to the point where they simply cannot stand their bathroom anymore and so comes the dreaded bathroom makeover. Not only is the makeover a little scary because of all of the work that is involved, but also there is typically a lot of money that gets spent. The thing is though; you can really cut down on the expense and the work with enough advance planning.

Write out all your plans and decorating ideas, before you just start ripping out the walls or plumbing. This will serve as your guide in order to make sure that you are staying on track. You will want to avoid some common bathroom makeover mistakes. As long as you know what these things are and do your best to not make these mistakes, the entire experience should be a pleasant one.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is they take their crowded bathroom and make it even more crowded. Setting a wall further back may inspire you to install many things you do not even need or can afford. Avoid this temptation. In order to avoid this, you need to make a list of all of the things you want out of your bathroom makeover and number them in terms of importance. If you run out of room, simply cut off the bottom half of your must have list.

Changing their mind is a common mistake of homeowners during a bathroom makeover. Plan your bathroom details ahead of time. This includes everything from the color of the tile floor to the color of the walls. Once you address and make a decision on your bathroom decorating ideas, you need to leave them alone. Changing your mind half-way through only wastes your time and your money.

Consider the …

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