210940 Basic Access in All New Houses: The Missing Link in Community Design

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 10:45 AM

Eleanor A. Smith, MA, M Ed , Concrete Change, Decatur, GA
Although the Fair Housing Amendment mandates basic access features in new multi-family residential buildings, the current norm for new, single-family house construction—where the majority of the population lives-- is to omit all access features. The presenter will discuss several negative public health impacts of typical new home construction. Positive, affordable alternatives brought about through the Visitability movement will be identified, including alternatives already in place in several locales. These initiatives have brought about thousands of houses with basic disability access sold on the open market, as opposed to being especially constructed for older people or people with disabilities. The presenter will define Visitability, compare it to Universal Design, and give a brief overview of the history, accomplishments and challenges. Recent research will be discussed that challenges typical ways of assessing the need for accessible houses and demonstrates the high likelihood that a new house will have a resident with severe mobility impairment at some point in the lifetime of the house. The presenter will also critique housing policy recommendations in typical community plans and formulate alternative concepts and language.

Learning Objectives:
Identify several negative health impacts of typical new home construction practices. Define Visitability and compare it to Universal Design. Identify positive alternatives to typical home construction. Analyze two approaches to assessing the need for disability access features in homes. Evaluate typical housing plans for new communities.

Keywords: Aging, Housing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the primary national organizer for the Visitability movement that has brought about many thousands of houses with basic disability access, and the co-author of the article in the Journal of the American Planning Association that will be referred to in the presentation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.