September 20, 2005

Will We Learn From Our Mistakes?

A coalition of five disability groups has released the following statement on Universal Design.

KATRINA SURVIVORS WILL FACE NEW TRAP: NEW HOMES THEY STILL CAN'T GET OUT OF: National groups call for 3 simple features in Katrina home

CONTACT: Marcie Roth, NSCIA: 301-717-7447,
Eleanor Smith or Barbara Rose, Concrete
Change: 404-378-7455.

Freedom to come and go. Freedom to live in safety. Every home
rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina should give people this simple
guarantee. We saw the pictures and heard the stories: People in
wheelchairs, people on walkers, who couldn't exit to safety.

Now, in the aftermath, people are being shunted from shelters to
nursing homes -- all because the re-location homes have barriers,

All housing -- all housing -- built after Katrina should have
three simple features:
-- one zero-step entrance.
-- doors with 32 inches of clear passage space.
-- one bathroom on the main floor you can get into in a wheelchair.
Cost of these items in new construction is negligible, say experts.

Never again should people be trapped in their homes, unable to
escape to safety. Federal and state officials must ensure that basic
access features are built into all new housing.

Temporary housing being erected needs these features too.

"It is nothing short of a crime that people like wheelchair user
Benilda Caixeta were trapped in their homes, unable to escape," said
Marcie Roth, CEO of the National Spinal Cord Injury
Association. "We must build every new home with basic features that
let people get in and out."

"Inaccessible houses keep us from entering or leaving on our own,"
says Eleanor Smith of Concrete Change. "It's illogical to scramble
to retrofit existing homes for access and then build new homes
with new barriers after the hurricane."

"Current housing stock is woefully deficient in meeting the needs of
people with mobility impairments," says architect Dr. Edward
Steinfeld, Director of the IDEA Center at the State University of
New York at Buffalo (716-829-3485, x329,
The National Spinal Cord Injury Association, the nation's oldest and
largest civilian organization serving people with spinal cord
injuries and diseases: CEO Marcie Roth: 301-717-7447,

Concrete Change promotes "visitable" homes that are easier to live
in: Eleanor Smith or Barbara Rose: 404-378-7455.

The 21,000-member Congressionally-chartered Paralyzed Veterans of
America is dedicated to veterans with spinal cord injury or disease:
Susan Prokop, Associate Advocacy Director: 202-416-7707,

United Spinal Association, dedicated to enhancing the lives of
individuals with spinal cord injury or disease, advocates for civil
rights and independence: Dominic Marinelli, Accessibility Services

Posted by rollingrains at September 20, 2005 09:25 PM