Results matching “visitability”

Universal Design and Visitability: From Accessability to Zoning 
 edited by Jennifer Evans-Cowley

 

From http://www.fairhousingnc.org


On June 4, 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued new guidance to "encourage participation in state efforts" to assist individuals with disabilities who are "moving out of institutions and into [community-based] housing." The guidance, titled "Statement of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Role of Housing in Accomplishing the Goals of Olmstead," is part of HUD's efforts to ensure compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision Olmstead v. L.C., in 1999, which held that unjustified segregation of individuals with disabilities violdated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The HUD guidance notes that recipients of federal funding not only are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilites but also have an obligation to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFHA). This obligation could include activities such as "providing integrated, affordable housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities," developing or rehabilitating units that contain "universal accessibility and visitability features that go beyond the minimum accessibility requirements established by federal laws and regulations," and affirmative marketing, and other "innovative ways to further the integration of individuals with disabilities throughout their communities."

Source:

http://www.fairhousingnc.org/2013/06/hud-issues-new-guidance-on-community-based-housing-for-people-with-disabilities/


Culture in the Further Development of Universal Design

Scott Rains, D. Min

srains@oco.net

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Reprinted from Design for All India:


By now most readers of Design for All India have a healthy grasp of Universal Design. Many, perhaps most, have become highly competent in its application as is evident from the articles appearing in past volumes and today. Beyond technical mastery of the Seven Principles, knowledge of best-of-breed solutions, and familiarity with allied concepts such as Visitability, Adaptive Technology, or anthropometrics there is a cultural component to this design approach that is unquantifiably - but undeniably - transforming Universal Design. By systematically and thoroughly examining this cultural component in the coming decade we will discover the true nature of Universal Design to be social sustainability.

Defining the Cultural Component

There are two ways to define this cultural component.

The first is to take the generally accepted meaning of culture as a social system involving ethnicity, nationality, language, arts, shared values or some combination of these elements to define a coherent and dynamic system. The second is to apply the term culture to that system in relationship to persons with disabilities as a whole (pan-disability culture) or as various sub-groups (blind, deaf, deaf-blind, spinal cord injured, post-polio cultures).

Research into response to Universal Design in this first domain is still in its infancy. A rich body of literature will result from future inquiries into adoption, rejection, and adaptation of Universal Design by cultures as they have been traditionally defined. Such study can provide a complementary approach to other inquiries into disability in the field of Disability Studies.

Historically Universal Design arose in the 1970's as a product of the Disability Rights Movement in the United States. Closely associated with the work and teaching of North Carolina architect and quadriplegic Ron Mace it began to gain widespread acceptance in the 1990's through a dissemination process that has not been well documented. One theme in that documentation will be the interplay between the cultural values embedded in Universal Design, either intentionally or unintentionally, and those held in locations where it is introduced.

Anecdotal evidence indicates integration of Universal Design in Japan's Mitsubishi, Toto, NTT DoCoMo and a uniquely Korean appropriation of Universal Design at Samsung. Reference to the Tao and the principle of balance symbolized in Tae Kuk are being integrated into the approach as applied to product design by the latter. Research by Thai scholar Antika Sawadsri (2006) on affective responses to Universal Design in Tai domestic settings is the first of what ought to be a series of similar studies done around the world. Such a micro-scale look at cultural factors involved in receptivity to Universal Design will provide uniquely targeted guidance to social planners and businesses attempting macro-scale Universal Design projects in the same social conditions.

As successful application and adaptive enculturation of Universal Design occurs there will be impact beyond the predictable further inclusion of persons with disabilities into the economic mainstream. From the earliest conversations leading to what we now know as Universal Design pioneer Elaine Ostroff was involved in the arts and incorporating Universal Design. Other positive secondary effects of adoption will include the importation and fabrication of new materials, dissemination of new designs and new construction methods, and the economic enhancement of those able to consult, design, or build according to a culturally appropriate but inclusive norm as populations age. In areas where an age-inversion causes the numbers of elderly to exceed those of youth, adoption of enculturated Universal Design in infrastructure, products, and services will become necessary not only for social cohesion but as a user demand due to the natural conservatism common with aging.

Defining Universal Design

In order to pursue this research priority and ensure meaningful and generalizable results it is important that researchers share a common definition of Universal Design. That definition is found in the Seven Principles of Universal Design but requires ongoing attention to evolving definitions of disability and to local permutations of Universal Design such as Design for All.

The Principles of Universal Design are:
1. Equitable Use: The design does not disadvantage or stigmatize any group of users.

2. Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

3. Simple, Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.

5. Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

6. Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.

7. Size and Space for Approach & Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user's body size, posture, or mobility.[1]

Adaptive Environments describes Universal Design as:

Universal Design is a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. Most simply, Universal Design is human-centered design of everything with everyone in mind.

Universal Design is also called Inclusive Design, Design-for-All and Lifespan Design. It is not a design style but an orientation to any design process that starts with a responsibility to the experience of the user.

Current trends are toward a functional rather than a medical diagnostic approach to defining disability. The World Health Organization (WHO) reinforces that with its International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF 2001). This aligns well with the third of the three theoretical models of disability - Charity, Medical, and Social (or "Social Interpretation" see Gabel, "Disability Studies in Education"[2].) The latter defines disability as an interaction between function and environment.

Rudiger Leidner of NATKO made a distinction between US conceptualizations of Universal Design and a European reformulation known as Design for All in his 2006 presentation "Tourism Accessible for All in Europe":

"...the main difference between the D[esign] F[or] A[all] idea and similar approaches such as "Universal Design" is that the targeted users should be involved in the process of product development."[3]

The designation as Lifespan Design referred to in the citation from Adaptive Environments above captures the observation that human functionality changes through the natural course of maturation and aging. It reminds designers that the value of a product is not the only its durability through time. Predictable changes in the functional abilities of the user may prove to be more important measures of value. Large-scale changes in the ratio between the young and the old are poised to be socially disruptive in ways that immediate adoption of Universal Design can mitigate.

Studies to determine the culturally contextual rationales for accepting Universal Design will become increasingly essential. Already the narrative behind Universal Design projects for seniors or for people with disabilities differs. Public perception of the social value of publicly-funded Universal Design projects takes on added importance in times of scarcity of public resources.

The aging segment of the population appears to figure more heavily than the disability community in Japan's adoption of Universal Design. While in the US arguably the strongest non-governmental promoter of Universal Design, the non-profit AARP through its Home Design resources, conferences, and workshops educates on the concept without reference to its origins in the Disability Rights Movement or its foundation in disability culture. This appears to be a deliberate marketing strategy to present only images of "healthy" attractive seniors.

These and other examples serve to alert us to the reality that Universal Design applied to infrastructure may equally benefit both seniors and people with disabilities while the political discourse attached to such projects may work to drive a wedge between two groups with common interests and needs.

Culture(s) of Disability

Disability culture or disability cultures offer a second window of inquiry into the meaning and maturation of Universal Design as a global phenomenon.

Some have theorized that while definitions of disability have been imposed by non-disabled persons cultures of disability have risen up to protect the interests, identities, and political voice of those gathered into these categories. Current understandings emphasizing the multiplicity of social categories any individual is involved in and the multifaceted interactive nature of resistance to social movements' demands for change provide a fluid definition of culture and energize artistic production with a disability "voice." Colin Barnes and Geoff Mercer provide an overview of the topic in Chapter 21 of the Handbook of Disability Studies entitled "Disability Culture."[4]

Defining, distinguishing, and uniting disability cultures remains problematic. One can list examples of distinctiveness: deaf culture maintains its own languages, blind culture it own institutions, and mobility impaired culture its own politics.

Conflicts arise when specific design solutions are confused with Universal Design itself.

The usefulness of curbs at corners for orienting blind pedestrians and the necessity of curb cuts for wheelchairs lead some to question the "universality" of some solutions commonly associated with Universal Design. It is important to recall that Universal Design is a design approach not a catalog of solutions or any specific construct such as a ramp or a flashing fire alarm. Universal Design understood as design and not a canon of prescribed solutions is capable of generating outcomes that address the unique needs disability groups with differing functional abilities.

The questions arise for professionals, "Who is responsible for maintaining that clarity of definition at the academic level? At the level of professional discourse? When working with stakeholders and clients?"

Language is a knowledge management system. Careful use of language is called for to both adequately communicate the process of Universal Design and to facilitate competing cultural values existing even within the disability community.

The "Culture" of Construction

The phrase "construction of culture" is commonplace in post-modernist discussions of the nature of culture. Similarly the "construction of disability" is a phrase indicating the social, and thus changeable, nature of the concept and social system known as disability. In such dialogue "avoiding the (re)construction of disability" is a responsibility of those who claim to be working in the interest of social inclusion such as practitioners of Universal Design. Part of that responsibility is to avoid design that stigmatizes.

There are also professional mandates upon those who work with designers in the fabrication phase of products and spaces. We might designate these as part of a "culture of construction" that seeks to resolve all discussion to specifications and measurements that are actionable within their domain of responsibility. The influence of this approach can also manifest from within the disability community.

Examples include accessibility auditor trainings that do not include an introduction to Universal Design principles or to the process and place of design in project development. The results are then evident in accessibility auditing survey tools that proscribe rather than describe. Mandated minimum accessibility standards from building codes are fashioned into check sheets or other proscriptive heuristics for gathering data. This data is then published in directories of building accessibility. The tools are thus unable to capture innovative (universally designed) solutions and the auditors unprepared to recognize them as good design. This self-defeating approach rewards businesses for mere minimum compliance and penalizes those who solve design problems in novel ways.

One museum designer reported a usability study of one of her projects conducted by persons with disabilities[5]. They immediately flagged the lack of the typical (stigmatizing) artifacts of "accessibility": grab bars and tactile navigation in colors, materials, and textures that broke the integrity of the design of the space, Braille captioning that was easily located visually, etc. After an orientation with the designer they agreed that the design's non-traditional integration of handholds, navigation aids, and placement of Braille were superior as well as non-stigmatizing.

The auditors working from an internalized list of "accessibility features" had themselves failed to realize that the designer had achieved both accessibility and avoided reconstructing disability through stigmatized solutions. It must be remembered that even stakeholders with disabilities may need training in the tools such as Universal Design that are available to designers.

The Travel and Hospitality Industry as Locus of Transformation

The travel and hospitality industry will be the site of the next major developments in Universal Design.

A typical legislated strategy for social inclusion employs the language of rights. It mandates access to government properties and services in the name of citizenship, human, or civil rights. It extends the argument to the business sector and mandates compliance through threat of sanction.

Such a strategy is sound and within the purview of government. Yet it is not sufficient.

Persons with disabilities in numerous countries report accessibility requirements that conflict within the same jurisdiction, corruption that allows regulations to be ignored, and a general failure on the part of those regulated to imagine any accommodation beyond the mandated minimum.

A parallel approach is to use the industry's profit motive to achieve accessibility, employment, & attitude change for the benefit of the disability community.

Aside from metropolitan transit and national rail systems the infrastructure of transportation and lodging - of tourism - is under private ownership. In the language of private business the laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities place them in the category of cost center or as legal risks of lawsuits to be managed. While establishing a necessary legal baseline against discrimination such laws evoke a resistance response that, in practice, prevents business from imagining people with disabilities as a lucrative customer base.

Over the past several years the disability community has had some success gaining the attention of the tourism industry with research such as that done by the Open Doors Organization that US travelers with disabilities alone spend an average of $13.6 billion annually on travel.[6]

During this period I have been researching, refining, and promoting a reconciliation of these two approaches to social change where legislative scaffolding sustains the market for profit-based incentive. While some countries may never adopt national civil rights legislation for people with disabilities, approval of the UN Declaration on the Rights of People with Disabilities will radically change the business and legislative ecosystems and raise expectations in the disability community. Tourism remains largely unprepared for the future impact of this UN document. As a global industry that is increasingly being held accountable to social responsibility metrics such as the inverse of Universal Design - Green Design[7] - tourism may become more receptive than governments themselves to accommodating persons with disabilities.

I have proposed to the Echoing Green Foundation the creation of a series of strategically located Centers of Excellence promoting Universal Design within the travel and hospitality industry. We call this application of Universal Design to tourism Inclusive Tourism and Inclusive Destination Development.[8]

Each Center of Excellence will work to standardize the diversity of accessibility laws, disseminate accessibility guidelines for hotels, train travel & hospitality industry staff, and promote the education and hiring of persons with disabilities in the industry. At the local level we will increase accessibility of the tourist destinations hosting the Centers and train a core of persons with disabilities as self-sustaining regional experts in Inclusive Tourism.

Expected outcomes include increased tourism infrastructure accessibility (hotels, airports, and transit systems), greater self-reported social inclusion of people with disabilities and disabled peoples' organizations (DPOs) (i.e. people with disabilities hired in the industry and DPOs contracted as travel industry suppliers), as well as people with disabilities positively portrayed as valued customers marketing by the industry.

This project will engage industry's self-interest in profit by recruiting and training an overlooked workforce, product development for this under-served market, best practices dissemination to an awakening industry, and marketing a new image of disability completing a feedback loop that encourages more in the disability community to travel.

Conclusion

Cultural factors influence the adoption of projects involving Universal Design as well as the development of the approach itself. These cultural factors include social groupings traditionally understood as cultures. They also include the communities of persons with disabilities as an aggregate and as sub-cultures differentiated by disability.

Universal Design, as a product of disability culture, represents an authentic voice of disability culture when understood as a design process and not a catalog of sanctioned and static design solution or "accessibility features."

Yet as a voice competing among other social systems and cultures Universal Design must be clearly articulated and intentionally directed.

One area of promise for shaping the Universal Design of the future is in dialogue with the cultures into which it is introduced. One vehicle for animating such a dialogue is the global travel and hospitality industry operating out of the profit, in addition to the rights and entitlement, motive. A network of Centers of Excellence of Inclusive Tourism and Inclusive Destination Development offers a scalable and sustainable mechanism for the continued development of Universal Design as an authentic voice of the disability community worldwide.

- 30 -

 

 

Dr. Scott Rains writes daily on travel and issues in the tourism industry of interest to people with disabilities. His work appears online at www.RollingRains.com andhttp://withtv.typepad.com/weblog/travel/ . Rains' articles have also appeared in New Mobility, Emerging Horizons, Contours, Accessible Portugal, Audacity, Travel and Transitions, eTur Brazil, Turismo Polibea, [with]TV, and Disaboom among others.

For his research on the topic of Universal Design and the travel and hospitality industry he was appointed as Resident Scholar at the Center for Cultural Studies of the University of California Santa Cruz (2004-05).

He is active as a consultant and speaker.

[1] Compiled by advocates of Universal Design in 1997. Participants are listed in alphabetical order: Bettye Rose Connell, Mike Jones, Ron Mace, Jim Mueller, Abir Mullick, Elaine Ostroff, Jon Sanford, Ed Steinfeld, Molly Story, Gregg Vanderheiden. The Principles are copyrighted to the Center for Universal Design, School of Design, State University of North Carolina at Raleigh [USA].The Principles established a valuable language for explaining the characteristics of Universal Design. They are in common use around the world, sometimes with slight modifications, primarily one or two principles grouped together. Source: Adaptive Environments

[2] One hallmark of disability studies is its adherence to what has been called a "social model of disability" (Abberley, 1987), first suggested by Vic Finkelstein (1980) and other disability rights activists, in which disability is understood as a form of oppression. Although "social model" is the most common usage of the concept, I agree with Vic Finkelstein (2001, ¶. 2) that the phrase "social interpretation" is a better and more inclusive representation of disability studies standpoints. In this paper, I use "social model" to refer to the traditional historical-materialist version of the social interpretation of disability. In contrast, I use "social interpretation" to refer to the wider array of disability theories in disability studies (e.g., disability identity, disability embodiment, disability discourse). As a whole, social interpretations of disability contrast with typical educational views wherein "disability" represents innate individual deficits. In disability studies, the disability-as-deficit notion is referred to as a clinical or medical model and is rejected as the basis for understanding the lived experiences of disabled people because it tends to pathologize difference and rely upon expert knowledge (i.e., physicians, special educators, rehabilitation counselors) to "remediate" difference (Society for Disability Studies, Guidelines for Disability Studies, ¶ 3). Disability Studies in Education: Readings in Theory and Method (2005, New York: Peter Lang) Source:http://www.nl.edu/dse/SusanGabel.htm

[3] Source:http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/Tourism_for_all_in_Europe_Leidner_2006.pdf

[4] Handbook of Disability Studies, Gary L. Albrecht, Katherine D. Seelman, Michael Bury, 2001 Sage Publications , ISBN 076192874X


[5] Personal communication, 2004

[6] Open Doors Organization, 2005

[7] It [Universal Design] has a parallel in the green design movement that also offers a framework for design problem solving based on the core value of environmental responsibility. Universal Design and green design are comfortably two sides of the same coin but at different evolutionary stages. Green design focuses on environmental sustainability, Universal Design on social sustainability. Source:http://www.adaptiveenvironments.org/index.php?Itemid=3&option=Content

[8] Sources: http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/travel_with_disabilities/114773 andhttp://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/travel_with_disabilities/115176

But You? You Are a Disappointment to Us.

Scott P  Rains.jpg

It is the passion of each athlete to perform at their personal best - and exceed that.

It is the promise of a team athlete to multiply the personal best of their teammates by strategically exceeding what they are capable of alone.

But you? You are a disappointment to us.

Sprinting on one leg - or none - elite athletes now cross the field to compete as both Olympians and Paralympians.

In the first audience some see a story of "overcoming." Overcoming some personal hell. Balanced upright on an artificial homage to bodily integrity.  Dragging along some unfeeling metallic appendage where once life pulsed. Athletes performing some healing ritual for the benefit of uncomfortably-embodied perfect spectators. Heroism hop-along fashion.

To the second audience they are also a story of overcoming. Overcoming a very public minefield. Dancing through built-environment obstacles while calculating the blast radius of confronting those who design and enforce them. That athlete plays both for personal best and for team by asking, "What legacy do I leave for the disability community?" Strategy outmaneuvering that presumed advantage on the social playing field where the obstacles are constructed. Interdependence overcoming avarice.

But you? You are a disappointment to us.

You called a party in America and didn't invite us. In fact, you used your party to block adoption of the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Generations of our elite intellectual and moral athletes sacrificed body and health in a global team effort to lead you to a more secure future for yourselves even though you are not one of us. 

You are a disappointment to us.

You built a City on a Hill and refused to make Visitability the law of the land.

You are a disappointment to us.

You amassed fortunes, short and long, derived from high-end housing stock that you will one day pay out to retrofit on Universal Design principles in order to age-in-place while even non-profit builders of low-income housing continue to fall over their own violation of the Fair Housing Act.

You are a disappointment to us.

We shall overcome. We shall ADAPT.

You are a disappointment to us.

As a community of one billion persons with disabilities worldwide there is no one stadium large enough to hold us all. There is no one party with bouncers strong enough to keep us from dancing through and exceeding what exclusion has wrought.

Some will see the self interest of aligning with us as consumers. Kudos! Some will adapt to the aging process and adopt as their own the strategies we have forged from our lives of resilience a persons with disabilities. Congratulations! A few will awaken to the politics of inclusion. Welcome! 

The rest?

The rest, you are a disappointment to us. You lack both the passion to give your personal best to the human project and the promise of truly grasping our interdependence.

Go home. Train. Come back when you are ready to overcome.

Each person has only a limited training season in the amateur leagues as a Temporarily Able-Bodied Person.

Don't disappoint us when life finally allows you to run with the heroes and you are unprepared to keep up.

Dr. Scott Rains writes daily on disability, travel, and Universal Design at www.RollingRains.com and on Facebook.


Ron Mace, an architect and wheelchair user who coined the term "universal design" in the early '70s, summed up its philosophy: "Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design."

These days, Arvid Osterberg, professor of architecture at Iowa State University's College of Design, prefers to call the concept "design for all people," and teaches a course by that name.

For Osterberg, good design, "inclusive design," necessarily includes features that make it accessible and comfortable, not just for those who use wheelchairs or who have other physical challenges, but for the child with muscular dystrophy, the world-class triathlete and everyone in between. Another term used for this design approach is "visitability."

"Unfortunately, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) only applies to public spaces, not private homes.

Read more:
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Visitability in Queensland Australia

Press release from Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe, 01/11/2010

QUEENSLAND TASKFORCE TO PROMOTE LIVEABLE HOUSING BY DESIGN

Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe today announced the State Government would appoint an advisory group to monitor progress on the National Dialogue on Universal Housing Design

Mr Hinchliffe said the group would provide regular reports to the State Government throughout these discussions, as the construction industry works towards the Federal Government's target of incorporating universal design features in all new homes by 2020.

"We are inviting the relevant stakeholders, organisations and agencies to participate in this new advisory group," he said.

"I look forward to receiving the feedback of the advisory group as we work on the development of universal housing design plans and features in buildings, without the need for specialised, costly design."

A universal design feature is a component of a house or property that can be used by everyone, regardless of a person's level of ability or disability.

"The concept simply means easy living features that make homes more accessible and safer for everyone to use, including seniors, people living with a disability, people with temporary injuries or even families with young children," Mr Hinchliffe said.

"The intent behind it is to make new housing more usable, by more people and comes at little or no extra costif incorporated at the initial design and construction stage."

A new home with universal design features should:

    • be easy to enter;
    • be easy to move in and around;
    • be capable of easy and cost-effective adaptation; and
    • be designed to anticipate and respond to the changing needs of home occupants.

Practical examples include a continuous path of travel from the street entrance and/or parking area to a dwelling entrance that is level, at least one level entrance into the dwelling, a toilet on the entry level that provides easy access and shower and bath grabrails.

"The Federal Government has committed to adopting voluntary guidelines to promote universal housing design principles, with the headline goal being for all new homes to incorporate these design features by 2020," Mr Hinchliffe said.

"The new taskforce I have established today will report to the existing Building Industry Consultative Group on industry's progress on meeting its voluntary goals."

Al Condoluci's presentation at the Inclusive Play Symposium dealt with Social Capital - the idea that social networks have intrinsic value.

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Two categories are central to social capital theory: bonding social capital and bridging social capital. The first refers to groups made of members who are similar and the second to those whose differences make linkages between them less likely under other circumstances. 

Network Theory observes that the number relationships for a given entity (node) vary widely. Clusters can be seen in graphs of relationships resembling islands and continents with bridging nodes exercising leverage roles between clusters.  For many people without a disability linking with a PwD, even in their own community, creates bridging social capital (in both directions.) Given the difficulty of travel with a disability the scarcity of contacts created by PwD in foreign countries can be a quite unique bridging relationship.

Condoluci went on to examine social assets and pro-social behavior. Pro-social behavior has been described as:

The term prosocial behavior describes acts that demonstrate a sense of empathy, caring, and ethics, including sharing, cooperating, helping others, generosity, praising, complying, telling the truth, defending others, supporting others with warmth and affection, nurturing and guiding, and even the altruistic act of risking one's life to warn or aid another. 

Source:

Individuals and networks accrue social capital. Prosocial behavior allows for retention of those assets. Acquiring the capacity for prosocial behavior is a developmental task. Play facilitates such development.

If "play is reaching out for joy and leisure travel is a search for new playspaces and playmates" in the acquisition of social capital then what is "hospitality?"

Hospitality is the application of prosocial behavior to strangers precisely because they are strangers. Hospitality is a strategy to foster bridging social capital. Whether highly altruistic or calculated in its aim of accruing social assets for those participating hospitality often includes highly symbolic and ritualized behaviors designed to lower anxiety and facilitate trust in the ambiguity of first encounters.

"Aloha" (Hawai'i) and "morabeza" (Cabo Verde) are just two culturally specific instances of prosocial behavior to strangers (hospitality).

The questions for Inclusive Tourism become: 

  • What do these cultural formations of welcome and bridging manifest when the stranger is a person with a disability? 
  • What bridging opportunities are permitted or denied if one is a person with a disability?
  • Are all the constituent prosocial behaviors shown to a visitor with a disability? Expect of her/him?
  • When mobility, communication, or play are part of  the hospitality ritual what disability-friendly modes are available when performing it? (Is a home visitable? Is non-auditory communication available? Is inclusion planned for?)

Finessing Universal Design for Boomers

It is so encouraging to see experts springing up in the blogosphere on Universal Design after decades of indifference. 

With the sustained promotion of UD as aging-in-place by AARP and the work of Mary Furlong to highlight Boomers as market those who specialize in UD for kitchen, bathroom, home design, or travel have had the advantage of an overarching narrative occasionally appearing in the media. Here is a bit of conversation going on below the radar starting with a look by Louis Tenenbaum:

I
was catching up on some of my colleague's writing today starting with Laurie Orlov's blog Aging in Place Technology Watch about Aging in Place as a Crisis of Opportunity for CCRCs . Laurie referred to a piece by MIT Age Lab's Joe Coughlin in his blog, Disruptive Demographics, called Should I Stay or Should I Go? These are both great pieces, sucking me right in the way the web does, 'helping' whole days to slip away unnoticed. This is time well spent.


In another review of trends Chuck Nyren navigates, and thankfully breaks no bones doing so, one of the wackier limpets hanging onto Universal Design's mainstreaming success -- Arakawas' resurrection of "architecture-as-salvation." Our local manifestation is the Winchester Mystery House where the widow inheritor of the Winchester gun fortune stimulated her mind (and obsessions) through constant construction of her home. In the current fanciful inversion of Universal Design into "Undulating Danger" we get the following manifesto of "In-visitability":

Do you want to live in an apartment or house that can help you determine the nature and extent of interactions between you and the universe? What lengths would you be willing to go to, or how much inconvenience would you be willing to put up with, in order to counteract the usual human destiny of having to die?


Procedural architecture is an architecture of precision and unending invention.


 Read more from Chuck at:

Bonnie Lewkowicz is founder of Access Northern California, author of the accessibility guide to San Francisco and the book "A Wheelchair Rider's Guide: San Francisco Bay and the Nearby Coast." Her current research on trails accessibility in Northern California has given me an excuse to head out with tape measure, camera, and notebook to explore the region.


Before I share some observations on the area around Mendocino California I thought it would be helpful to republish the series of questions I prepared for the Geotourism Challenge applicants a couple years ago on the triple bottom line approach to tourism:


Questions for Geotourism Projects

Scott Rains, The Rolling Rains Report

www.RollingRains.com

srains@oco.net

 

An estimated 10% of those traveling at any point in time have a disability. These include not only people with visible aids such as wheelchairs or white canes but also many people with disabilities that are not immediately obvious to the unaware observer.  Yet "invisible" disabilities, too, can profoundly impact the travel behavior of people who experience them, for example disabilities that affect hearing, speaking, reading, reading social signals, or other communication.

The United Nations estimates there are 500 million people with disabilities in the world while a study by Open Doors Organization in 2002 demonstrated that the 42+ million Americans with disabilities spent $13.6 billion annually on travel. How is this market and this cultural phenomenon addressed by the tourism industry?

To be considered ecologically sustainable a project must be socially sustainable. That is, it must be realistic in accounting for the human needs and cultural variation among those it impacts. The following questions are meant to stimulate your thinking about how successful you have been in accommodating the diversity of capacities of travelers in ways that make earth-sensitive tourism projects open to all.

 

·         Do you provide information in various formats so that it can be independently accessed by users who may or may not be sighted, hearing, English-speaking, literate?

·         Do you follow best online practices in Universal Design such as W3C WAI or Section 508 (a US web accessibility law) standards?

·         Does the information you provide include the sort of information that is essential for someone who, for example, uses a wheelchair, travels with a companion animal, or is short of stature , or needs sign language interpreters to participate in certain activities? If not, has that information been collected and made readily accessible for when a traveler requests it from you?

·         Does your knowledge of place and local culture include explicit knowledge of the local cultures of disability ( i.e Local sign language dialects, crafts or professional niches traditionally held by persons with disabilities, historical figures of note who had disabilities?)

·         Does the marketing material you provide portray people with disabilities respectfully? (Does it portray them at all?)

·         Have you made an attempt to employ persons with disabilities? To seek them out as consultants in product development, marketing, and evaluation? Employ them on an ongoing basis? ?  If so, are they only assigned tasks related to disability issues?  Or do you also employ workers with disabilities in your mainstream initiatives as well?

·         If you provide a service to someone without a disability have you designed that service so that it is accessible to all or created an alternate system to accomplish an equivalent result?

·         If such service requires additional or modified equipment have you attempted to limit the environmental impact of the accommodation (i.e. Does your wheelchair lift-equipped vehicle operate on biodiesel?)

·         Have you implemented the insight, adopted in the LEED (green building) Certification specifications, that building accessibility is a necessity and is an environmentally practice because it extends the functionality of a building for its occupants (i.e. aging-in-place, visitability, lifespan design)? Retrofitting to correct a space that excludes uses more resources and produces waste material.

Reading on LEED Certification and inclusion:

http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/001457.html

·         Are you aware that the Responsible Tourism Movement specifies accessibility for all as central to its definition of responsible tourism?

Readings on the Responsible Tourism Movement: http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002134.html

·         Did you know that participation in sports, leisure activities, and tourism is a right guaranteed in the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD; see Article 30)? Do you know if the country or countries you operate in are signatories of the CRPD or have similar national legislation and what your legal obligations are under each?

Readings on CRPD Article 30:

http://blogs.bootsnall.com/Scott-Rains/tourism-in-the-united-nations-convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-crpd.html

http://blogs.bootsnall.com/Scott-Rains/tag/crpd

·         If your project involves access to the water have you familiarized yourself with the Waypoint/Backstrom Principles on accessibility of maritime environments:

Readings on the Waypoint/Backstrom Principles:

http://www.waypointcharter.com/Waypoint-BackstromPrinciples-Sept2008.htm

·         Have you reviewed your program using the seven principles of Universal Design (http://www.adaptiveenvironments.org/index.php?option=Content&Itemid=25):

   1.      Equitable Use: The design does not disadvantage or stigmatize any group of users.

   2.      Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

   3.      Simple, Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

   4.      Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.

   5.      Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

   6.      Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.

   7.      Size and Space for Approach & Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user's body size, posture, or mobility.

·         The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are part of the response of the tourism community to the global challenges of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. Interest in poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability are highlighted in the criteria. How might your work be enhanced by applying the criteria to travelers, employees, and destination residents with disabilities?

Readings on the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria:

http://www.sustainabletourismcriteria.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=58&Itemid=188

 

Read more at "Inclusive Tourism:Inclusive Design in the Passionate Embrace of Wanderlust:

http://www.rollingrains.com/2009/12/inclusive-tourism--.html

 

 

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 Does how private homes are built affect tourism?  You bet.    In part, because countless people who would have taken  trips  to visit  relatives and friends , stay home instead.


This one travelogue by the founder of the movement for Visitability, Eleanor Smith, tells the overlooked story of how lack of accessibility and the failure to adopt Universal Design even in our homes has an economic impact on a region's tourism coffers:

Four-day family vacation at my sister's house in California:   Ten of us--adult sibs and spouses.     We hiked the trails winding  above the Pacific, and  ate in a seafood restaurant.   We went to the John Steinbeck museum in Salinas, and ate lunch at a local diner.    We rode the rapid transit system into San Francisco,  shopped and dined  in Chinatown.    We toured  the historic mission  in San Juan Bautista  and had  lunch in an outdoor café under an arbor  in a  flower garden.    We had a wonderful time reminiscing, joking, catching up.    And we spent a lot of money.     Ordinary tourism.

 

Ordinary except that none of this would have happened if my sister's house had not had a ramp and renovated bathroom due to her husband's progressing Multiple Sclerosis.   I, meanwhile, have used a wheelchair since having polio at age three.   Now , at age 65, I was no longer the buff young woman who could toss her wheelchair behind her into the back seat of a car and drive off, and could  be carried up steps into houses in a manual chair if need be.        I use a power wheelchair and must have a ramp to enter houses that have entry steps.    So my sister's accessible house was the choice for our reunion.   Had the house not had access, I would not have been present.      Nor would my brother-in-law with MS  have been able to  exit his house without extreme effort (and no, not all people with mobility impairments are able to obtain the renovations they need in their  home.   Perhaps 2/3 of them remain dependent on the schedules, abilities and whims of others to exit their own homes.)   It is unlikely the California reunion would have happened at all if the house had lacked access.

  

What's the relation between private home access and disability?   I think no one has yet researched the vast amount of  tourist dollars NOT spent because people with mobility impairments can't enter the houses or  use the bathrooms in the houses of their far-flung adult children, siblings, friends...  or can only do so with great difficulty.      In fact, my non-disabled sibs often use my Kentucky sister's house  as an overnight stop-off and enjoyable visit while travelling  from Indiana  or Florida.   But I,  and my would-be travel companions, do not.       Her house has 5 steps up to one bathroom and five steps down to the other.   

 

I don't fault my Kentucky sister  for buying the house that was well located and priced right for her and her family.   We can't renovate all the existing houses that lack access, an  estimated 124 million houses in the U.S alone.    But we can stop building new houses with the same barriers.    That's what the movement called Visitability (or Inclusive Home Design, or Basic Home Access,   or Core Universal Design) is about. And it has been at least a little effective in getting houses built with basic access whether or not a known first resident has a disability.   For information about this movement, see www.concretechange.org.

 

Does how private homes are built affect tourism?  You bet.    In part, because countless people who would have taken  trips  to visit  relatives and friends , stay home instead.


The concert hall of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. De...

Image via Wikipedia

Inclusive Tourism is a kind of "hyphenated tourism."
 

At its simplest, "hyphenated tourism" is a way of dscribing niches and demographics with the pattern "[adjective] + tourism."

But nothing is ever so simple, is it?


Inclusive Tourism is:



Inclusive Tourism is the only hyphenated-tourism that has an emergency management plan in place for when the Silver Tsunami crests over the tourism industry.
 
It is braced for the shockwave of Boomer travel behavior as it dopplers and meets with the increase in their physical limitations.

Tourism, the world largest service industry, is a 21st century experiment in massive wealth redistribution. Inclusive Tourism assures that the industry's physical infrastructure and business values are appropriate and sustainable throughout the normal human lifecycle of all people - including changes in their functions and abilities.


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Universal Design in Kalamazoo

Read about another do-it-yourself Universal Design makeover.

In the absence of widespread Visitability legislation or housing appropriate for persons with disabilities mLive.com reports on a home inclusion remodel that was completed in a remarkably rapid six months:

Having a home that's barrier-free is Debbie Griffin's No. 1 priority...

Before purchasing the home, the Griffins looked into options, from condos to assisted living. None of the options seemed right for Debbie, so they began to look for a home that could be remodeled for her needs...

After six months of remodeling using a multitude of universal-design elements and features, she's moving into her St. Joseph Township home. She will again be a homeowner as she was before suffering a stroke to her spine six years ago.



http://www.mlive.com/living/kalamazoo/index.ssf2009/07parents_remodel_house_for_daug.html

Visitability

Convergence Continues: UD & Green

Summit Carriage Homes expresses the Universal Design/Green convergence this way:

Many organizations and studies, including the National Association of Homebuilders, have identified two complementary trends in housing for boomers and active seniors...

Universal design responds to home owners wish to age in place. Features like wide doors, lever door knobs, unobtrusive grab bars, and lower cabinet heights, with potential wheel chair access allow for staying at home even with disabilities. But, universal design goes further, to include easy touch thermostats and excellent lighting, for those normal deficiencies that aging can bring.

Green and sustainable design features the use of healthier interior and exterior materials, sustainable energy and often intersects with concepts of universal design. Benefits include:

- Reduced utility costs
- Conservation of energy and water.
- A healthier and safer home for occupants.
- Reduced harmful greenhouse gas emissions


They go on to look at broader community impacts such as Livability and Visitability:

Chuck Frankel developer and Eco Broker, says: "Green design impacts on both interior and exterior home planning." Accordingly, professionals have been engaged to prepare a report that includes traffic flow, light quality, water drainage, soil and other contamination. "We want to do more than maintain the environment, explains, our goal is to improve it for future residents of Summit and for current and future neighbors."

For their press release:
http://pr-usa.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=234103&Itemid=28

Over at Home Exchange Travels blog the wisdom of Inclusive Travel has surfaced in this reflection on Universal Design and the demographics behind the fact it has become mainstream. From, "Is Your Home Accessible" we see references to UD and Visitability:

Retired people might be your most flexible home exchange partners. By definition, someone who is retired is not tied to a work schedule or subject to limited vacation time. By the time the average American can afford to retire, young children are out of the home so those who are retired tend to have very flexible schedules...

Home exchange is a great way for retirees to travel, and all swappers should welcome offers from flexible, mature retired people. But even if you are eager to exchange with older travelers, your home itself may deprive you of the opportunity to exchange with seniors.

The June 19th post is a practical follow-on post "Making Your Home Accessible" again with the same insights:

Whether senior citizens, small children or people with disabilities, many home exchangers may be unable to swap with you if your home is not accessible. Stairs, or even a few steps, are the prime culprit in denying access, but there are other hazards which can make your home unsafe or totally unusable for certain exchangers.

Read the complete entries:

http://homeexchanger.blogspot.com/2009/06/is-your-home-accessible.html

http://homeexchanger.blogspot.com/2009/06/making-your-home-accessible.html




Scott Rains - RollingRains.jpg
To date I have held off applying to this year's Geotourism Challenge because the sponsors (Ashoka Foundation and National Geographic) have asked me to serve as a Featured Commentator.

The following is a set of questions I have prepared for the applicants. The application process is still open. Consider applying and feel free to suggest questions to me in addition to the following:


Questions for Geotourism 2009 Nominees

An estimated 10% of those traveling at any point in time have a disability. Many more of those disabilities affect sight and hearing than is apparent with the easily identified wheelchair or cane user. Many disabilities are virtually invisible to the observer - yet they profoundly impact the travel behavior of those who experience them.
To be considered ecologically sustainable a project must be socially sustainable. That is, it must be realistic in accounting for the human needs and cultural variation among those it impacts. The following questions are meant to stimulate your thinking about how successful you have been in accommodating the diversity of capacities of travelers to make an earth-sensitive project open to all.

•    Do you provide information in various formats so that it can be independently accessed by users who may or may not be sighted, hearing, English-speaking, literate?


•    Do you follow best online practices in Universal Design such as W3C WAI or Section 508 (a US web accessibility law) standards?

•    Does the information you provide include the sort of information that is essential for someone who, for example, uses a wheelchair, travels with a companion animal, or is short of stature? If not, has that information been collected and made readily accessible for when a traveler requests it from you?

•    Does your knowledge of place and local culture include explicit knowledge of the local cultures of disability ( i.e Local sign language dialects, crafts or professional niches traditionally held by persons with disabilities, historical figures of note who had disabilities?)

•    Does the marketing material you provide portray people with disabilities respectfully? (Does it portray them at all?)

•    Have you made an attempt to employ persons with disabilities? To seek them out as consultants in product development, marketing, and evaluation? Employ them on an ongoing basis?

•    If you provide a service to someone without a disability have you designed that service so that it is accessible to all or created an alternate system to accomplish an equivalent result?


•    If such service requires additional or modified equipment have you attempted to limit the environmental impact of the accommodation
(i.e Does your wheelchair lift-equipped vehicle operate on biodiesel?)

  • Have you implemented the insight, adopted in the LEED (green building) Certification specifications, that building accessibility is a necessity and is an environmentally practice because it extends the functionality of a building for its occupants (i.e. aging-in-place, visitability, lifespan design)? Retrofitting to correct a space that excludes uses more resources and produces waste material.

Reading on LEED Certification and inclusion:

http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/001457.html



•    Are you aware that the Responsible Tourism Movement specifies accessibility for all as central to its definition of responsible tourism?

Readings on the Responsible Tourism Movement:

http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002134.html

•    Did you know that participation in sports, leisure activities, and tourism is a right guaranteed in the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD; see Article 30)? Do you know if the country or countries you operate in are signatories of the CRPD or have similar national legislation and what your legal obligations are under each?

Readings on CRPD Article 30:

http://blogs.bootsnall.com/Scott-Rains/tourism-in-the-united-nations-convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-crpd.html

http://blogs.bootsnall.com/Scott-Rains/tag/crpd

•    If your project involves access to the water have you familiarized yourself with the Waypoint/Backstrom Principles on accessibility of maritime environments?

Readings on the Waypoint/Backstrom Principles:

http://www.waypointcharter.com/Waypoint-BackstromPrinciples-Sept2008.htm

•    Have you reviewed your program using the seven principles of Universal Design?
(http://www.adaptiveenvironments.org/index.php?option=Content&Itemid=25):

   1.      Equitable Use: The design does not disadvantage or stigmatize any group of users.
   2.      Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
   3.      Simple, Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
   4.      Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
   5.      Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
   6.      Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.
   7.      Size and Space for Approach & Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user's body size, posture, or mobility.

  • The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are part of the response of the tourism community to the global challenges of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. Interest in poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability are highlighted in the criteria. How might your work be enhanced by applying the criteria to travelers, employees, and destination residents with disabilities?

Readings on the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria:

http://www.sustainabletourismcriteria.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=58&Itemid=188



Further Reading:

OSSN Blog on Geotourism Challenge 2009
http://www.ossn.com/blog/template_permalink.asp?id=185





Rolling Rains Leaders Interview:

Esther Greenhouse Environmental Gerontologist

Interview by Monica Guy

A powerful advocate of inclusive design and an expert on issues around aging in place, Esther Greenhouse was acknowledged for her efforts in January 2009 with the prestigious Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) of the Year award. An experienced speaker and articulate writer, here she explains CAPS, her own work in gerontology and training, and her visions for the future:

How did the CAPS program come about?

In 2000, the US non-profit organisation AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) conducted a study entitled 'Fixing to Stay", in which 83% of respondents aged 45 and older reported that they wanted to remain in their own homes until the end of life. AARP then approached the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and together they developed the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) program.

Has the CAPS program made any impact? Has awareness increased, have attitudes changed?

Recently, I was cleaning out my professional library, and found publications by AARP and other groups delineating the needs for and explaining the details of aging in place and housing needs for seniors. These documents were 20-25 years old. Why is this relevant?  Because while both experts and society have known about the huge growth of the aging population for the last 30-60 years, we have all been slow to act.

There has however, been a significant shift towards addressing issues around the ageing population in the last 5-10 years. Why? In part because we can no longer ignore them, but also due to increased awareness and training via the CAPS program. The professionals have the awareness and training to address the needs of the consumers, and now have the resources in knowledgeable professionals.

How did you get involved?

Nearly 20 years ago I was the first Interior Design student in my college to pursue the then-new Gerontology program. Conducting a semester-long review of housing options for seniors, I came to the conclusion that aging in place was the ideal. I then committed to making this a reality for many via my professional work.

My husband is a builder, and very active in the builder's association. Through him, I learned about the CAPS program. I pursued the designation, and then realized that here was a powerful means of achieving my goal. Teaching CAPS is extremely rewarding - I have the opportunity to raise awareness, inform, and inspire 10-15 professionals during each two-day session. I know that each one in turn will then go out and help dozens to perhaps hundreds of people throughout their career. Plus, those accessible homes will be around to enable people to live independently for generations.

In August, I will begin a PhD program in which I will focus on funding options for accessible home modifications. I intend to analyze the existing government programs, and then make recommendations for revisions, or develop a new model or program. There will also be a sustainability component to my work.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis, and how does this fit into the bigger picture?

My work varies daily, which I really enjoy. Several times a year, I teach the CAPS classes. Other than that, I work to build relationships with non-profit organizations like Independent Living Centers (www.ilusa.com/links/ilcenters.htm). I send frequent emails to my former CAPS students, to make them aware of new issues and articles. I also try to help them form relationships with each other: for example, by introducing an occupational therapist to a remodeler in the same region, or two designers who are miles apart but may serve as sounding boards for one another. I speak at seminars and conferences as well.

I also have a young child who comes first, as much as possible, so I try to build my work schedule around him.

Recently, I was invited to join a new group at Cornell focusing on the intersection of an aging society and environmental problems. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be at the forefront of this work, and to collaborate with a wide range of researchers to address these issues. Spending the afternoon brainstorming about the direction to go in, hearing about issues which are new to me, knowing that this is the first step in making a difference, these are meaningful ways to spend my time.

How do you see yourself? A researcher, a campaigner, a business woman?

Recently, the National Association of Home Builders published an article about me on their website, in which they called me a 'business woman'. In my case, I am not a business woman. I consider myself an advocate and educator. Much of the work I do is pro-bono.

I had a two-year research appointment which ended this past October (the grant ended). Shortly beforehand, my husband asked, "What will you do next?" I explained that my gut was telling me to focus on advocacy, and ideally, enough paid teaching opportunities would come along to enable that. So far they have.

Originally I trained as an interior designer. I think it is important for CAPS professionals to come from a wide variety of backgrounds, the more multidisciplinary the better. One hallmark of the CAPS curriculum is the emphasis on having a multidisciplinary team of professionals working together to address the aging in place needs. When you have an OT and remodeler work together, you are more likely to a successful, enabling environment. This is one of the hallmarks of the CAPS curriculum.

Do you find that society's attitudes to people with disabilities are changing now that the population is ageing?


I have always been a gerontologist, but since becoming a CAPS instructor I have been thrilled to find that the needs of people with disabilities are now coming into the mainstream, along with the renewed attention on accessible homes for seniors. More and more, the lines between age-related disabilities and non age-related disabilities are blurring. I feel that this is the next big wave in our society - a new level of awareness and understanding for persons of various abilities and needs. It has been growing for decades, but there is a significant shift now.

Disabled Iraqi veterans are changing society's views as well, in terms of not simply accepting what they can no longer do, and relegating them to a life of limited opportunity. Many veterans are showing us that their abilities have changed, but that they can still lead rewarding lives if we don't stand in their way. People over 50 have been doing that too, for the past 20-30 years. Today's definition and concept of what it means to be "old" has changed dramatically in my lifetime.

I wish I could say that all of the shift we are having and will have is due to increased awareness and demand. But actually two of the biggest factors driving the change are legislation and litigation. Determined advocacy groups like Concrete Change and others are working very hard on two fronts: firstly, to promote 'Visitability' and to have Visitability ordinances passed; and secondly, to sue developers and landlords of multi-family housing who are in violation of the Fair Housing Act.


How do you see the situation for seniors and people with disabilities 50 years from now?

Terrific! These issues are the next big wave which our society will address. I see a society where we have embraced abilities and disabilities as a continuum, rather than as distinct, restricted groups.

Do other countries have similar projects? If not, should they? How do you recommend they should go about setting them up?

Absolutely! When I co-presented our seminar 'Green Building and Aging in Place: Building Homes to Meet the Needs of the 21st Century' at the International Builders Show, I was later contacted by Jean-Christophe Vanderhagen, Director General of the Confederation of Construction. Mr. Vanderhagen also serves as Chairman of the European Committee of the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing (www.iahsa.net).

What advice can you give to older people who want to remain at home until end of life, but don't know how to go about making the necessary adaptations?

First and foremost understand that the design of your home is the issue, not you. If you move to a lovely senior community, or assisted living, it will only enable you to thrive if it is properly designed.

If you live in the US, go to the following page on AARP's website and search for a CAPS professional in your region who can work with you to modify your home: www.aarp.org/family/housing/articles/caps.html

Tell us about your work assisting the city of Ithaca in its bid for the Accessible America award

I have only been able to have limited involvement due to scheduling conflicts. My assistance to them has been very minimal. However, it has served to further raise my awareness of the obstacles faced by persons with disabilities, and drives home the point that aging in place is a complex societal goal, which encompasses home design, transportation services, medical services, sidewalks, snow removal, among many others.

In conclusion...anything else you want to tell the world about?

Yes!  Do not underestimate the power of the built environment to enable, or disable, to uplift, or depress, to limit you, or to help you thrive!  

Think of the great cathedrals of Europe - wonderful examples of how the built environment can make you feel: small in the presence of the Almighty, uplifted by the soaring spaces, enraptured by the exquisite artwork. Through the proper design of the built environment, we can actually delay or prevent institutionalization for millions of people.

How can we not address this? This concept is nothing new, but that does not make it any less important.


Further Reading:

AARP study: http://www.aarp.org/research/reference/publicopinions/aresearch-import-783.html

CAPS web page:
http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?genericContentID=9334


About Monica Guy:
http://www.monicaguy.co.uk/


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Stories on Universal Design in homes keep getting better and better in the mainstream US press.

Partly that is the convergence of promotion of UD by AARP and serious efforts by home appliance m=designers to accommodate the very real desire of the Boomer population bulge in aging in their own homes. Partly is is the tireless advocacy of Eleanor Smith and allies for Visitability at Concrete Change. Partly it is just good research and interesting writing.

Take the latest example to come across my desk -- Appliance makers fine tune aging-in-place features for baby boomers by Julia Bauer in The Grand Rapids Press:

On the Visitability web site, Concrete Change, you will find this goal statement:

VISIT-ABILITY (Inclusive Home Design)

Our focus is new homes. Not government buildings, restaurants, etc. (important as they are). Our goal is to make ALL homes visitable, not just “special” homes — to be at the party, meeting, and family reunion . . . not isolated. We narrow the emphasis from a long list of access features to the most essential: entering a home and fitting through the interior doors. So that widespread construction change is more likely to happen quickly.

Steps at every entrance of a home shut out people who use wheelchairs or walkers, or have weakness, stiffness or balance problems. A narrow door stops wheelchair users from fitting through the bathroom door in a friend or relative’s home.

You will also find the slide show below.

Visitability Nov 2008
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Luxury comes home in Kansas City. It is being described with reference to travel industry products in the "resort lifestyle" retirement home with "cruise ship style dining":

Riverstone Resort Lifestyle Retirement Community in Kansas City, North, offers a “cruise ship” style of dining, said Ted Rychlik, who is the on-site manager of facility..“Our residents can eat all day,” he said. .. the Kansas City facility is the first to offer the “resort lifestyle” rather than the more traditional structure, Rychlik said.

Innovation around town includes a strong does of Universal Design and Visitability according to the Kansas City Star:

2 3 4 5  

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