Visit-ability is an affordable, sustainable and inclusive design approach for integrating basic accessibility features into all newly built homes and housing.
To be considered Visit-able, homes need:
- one zero-step entrance on an accessible path of travel
- doorways that are 32 inches clear throughout the floor plan
- basic access to at least a half- bath on the main floor
Visit-ability is an important step toward making universal access to community life a reality. Visit-ability is still a voluntary standard that can be used in any type of housing not yet covered by accessibility regulations.
Visit-ability does not represent a substitute for the legal mandate of full accessibility. Rather, Visit-ability expands the application of accessible design in a wider range of housing.
It makes houses relatively easy to adapt in the future, allowing current residents to remain in their homes as they age, rather than being forced to move as more features become necessary to
maintain functional independence.
Visit-able housing is also best suited to serve the whole community, since any member of the community can experience a disability and need accessible features whether that need is short term or permanent – at any time.
Residents who had Visit-able homes and were not currently disabled in any way reported that ramped access and other Visit-able features were an asset to them in their daily lives and would have been desirable as design options. The ramp made it easier for them to carry groceries, bicycles and other heavy burdens in and out.
If properly achieved, Visit-ability is right in line with one of the goals of universal design – social integration. Visit-ability creates housing that blurs the line between who has accessible housing and who has housing that is designed simply for improved livability.
The RERC convinced them to try building Visit-able homes as an option for all clients. We helped the chapter redesign their basic model to be Visit-able. Although they initially
planned to build only one Visit-able home as an experiment during the summer of 2000, all their clients chose the new plan over the original. What started out as a demonstration of the benefits of Visit-able features became three Visit-able units – built with the enthusiastic support of the homeowners.
Visit-ability is more than a good idea, more than a nice extra, more than a marketing ploy. The ability to age in place in one's own home, as well as the ability to visit one's neighbors and become part of the community, should be seen as a civil and a human right.
The vast majority of existing housing will never be made Visit-able or accessible. By focusing on the construction of new Visit-able housing, we can increase the choices available in our neighborhoods.