While great strides have been made in creating accessible public spaces, there is a shortage of even minimally accessible private housing in Canada for people who want to ‘age in place’ and those with reduced mobility. Newly constructed homes often contain the same major barriers as older, existing homes: steps at every entrance, and narrow interior doors, with the bathroom door usually the narrowest door in the house. In the visitability movement (an equivalent to accessibility in commercial or public buildings) three key features are promoted:
- a zero-step entrance at the front, back or side entrance of the house
- wider doorways on all main floor doors
- half or full bath on the main floor
These three minimum guidelines ensure that everyone, regardless of mobility, will be able to at least visit someone else’s home, use the washroom and exit the home.
Other opportunities exist to enhance the visitability of a new residence. These include:
- locating the bedroom or bedrooms on the main level of a multi-level structure.
- locating the laundry on the main level.
- access to and ample space within the kitchen.
- customizable designs to allow buyers the flexibility to alter homes for their best use.
Ryerson Commons offers home designs and customization choices which embrace each of the seven points above to enhance visitability for residents and visitors alike.
Aging in Place
Visitability can be integrated into the home at design phase of a new home to increase your options as your family’s needs change over time. Seniors want to remain living independently in their own homes and renovating at the time of a mobility change can be very costly. Visitability is a promising approach to creating more accessible homes that we have embraced at Ryerson Commons.