Results matching “visitability”


Apparently there are a few other people paying attention to the lack of transparency, accountability, and community participation in post-Katrina rebuilding schemes.

These two Letters to the Editor appeared yesterday.

Aging in Place Fair in Seattle

This announcement from Herladnet:

Households of all ages have roots in their communities and strong emotional ties to their homes. Few people want to move solely because their house no longer fits their needs. The problems faced by older individuals are compounded by the fact that they often live in the oldest housing stock.

If you want to stay in the home, how do your prioritize your projects? How do you judge need versus want? Many of the answers will be provided at National Aging in Place Week, today through Saturday, featuring a series of programs and seminars offered in dozens of communities across the country and coordinated by the Aging in Place Council and the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

Who will represent Universal Design in the HUD grant competition for rebuilding after Katrina?

The Universities Rebuilding America Partnerships (URAP)- Community Design
program provides funding to schools of architecture, urban planning and
design, or construction at accredited two- and four-year colleges and
universities to establish and operate partnerships with and for communities
affected by Hurricane Katrina or Rita (or both).

Pattern Language & Universal Design

Some ideologues argue against accessibility because it "beaks the esthetic." The truth is, an esthetic that permits inaccessiblity is already irrecoverably broken.

Launching into study of Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language has been an engaging intellectual exercise. By no means can I claim to have mastered his thought but some initial thoughts occur to me. Resonant with Chomskian sensibilities the search for gramaticality in Alexander's work seems to substitute for the proscriptive esthetics of more precious constructs like New Urbanism. That is a hopeful sign.
Alexander's essay "Methods" which discusses the role of " generative sequence" and its essential feature as being "backtrack-free" strikes me as the Pattern Language argument against retrofitting ("backtracking") - and, by extension, as argument for Universal Design.

This is because Universal Design incorporates the lifespan-aware definition of disability outlined in the International Categorization of Functionality (ICF). Good design, even for those who remain in the temporary state identified and reinforced by the built environment as "able bodied," must take into account the functionalities associated with a complete lifespan -- childhood, temporary injury, tiredness, lapses of attention, the posssibility of permanent disability, and aging. To achieve the goal of livability each action undertaken must not eliminate the possibility a future one made necessary, for example, by disability:

If Not Biloxi, Where? If Not Now, When?

The future is in Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, D'Iberville, Ocean Springs, Gautier, Moss Point and Pascagoula.


Hurricane Katrina will mark the inauguration of Universal Design as a new cornerstone of city and regional planning. "Liveable Communities," "Inclusive Destinations," "Visitable Homes," will find their first large scale concrete manifestation in the United States in these coastal Mississippi towns -- maybe.

The reasons are clear:

An estimated 20 percent of the United States population has a disability
making this the largest minority group in the nation. People with
disabilities have the highest rate of poverty of any minority group in the
United States. Geographically, nearly 40 percent of people reporting a
disability live in the South-twice the percentage of people with
disabilities in the other regions of the country.

Lex Frieden, Chairperson of the National Council on Disability, reminds us of an over-arching planning and design concept for post-disaster reconstruction. With room to accommodate Universal Design, Visitability, and Inclusive Destination Development, NCD's program for Universal Livability is outlined in a letter to president Bush below and in the document, "Livable Communities for Adults with Disabilities."

Three cheers for Greg Smith!


  1. He made it out of the Gulf Coast alive and with his attitude intact before Katrina hit.
  2. He keeps turning out quality work like On a Roll Radio and On a Roll: Reflections from America's Wheelchair Dude with the Winning Attitude.
  3. His melifluous voice resonating through the speakers of my car stereo this evening made me seriously consider doubling my pledge to KQED, the San Francisco Bay Areas' National Public Radio Affiliate as he said what no one else has said yet on national media - rebuild the Gulf Coast using the principles of Universal Design.

To hear the story go to NPR.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Just for something on the light side - these folks are building a house out of paper bricks and including (partial at least) Visitability into the design:

"Family builds home with mud, sweat and lots of newspaper"

The Rolling Rains Report covers issues affecting the ability of people with disabilities to fully participate in society while they are away from their primary place of residence. In general, that means issues impacting travel.

But what happens when a person with a disability is displaced by a disaster such as Katrina? And where is the distinction to be drawn between home and away...

Welcome to California, Katrina Evacuees!

The California Hotel & Lodging Association (CH&LA), the same people who brought us the "We Welcome Service Animals" campaign, has risen to assist Hurricane Katrina evacuees in a big way. Their goal is to provide 200,000 places for guests.

While the press release does not specify, and I have been unable to reach Jim Abrams, CH&LA president this past week, one would hope that an agency as atuned to the needs of people with disabilities has the logistical and IT infrastructure in place to smoothly match disabled guests with appropriate accommodations.

Wouldn't that task be so much easier in an ideal world where Visitability were the norm? Let's look forward to the Gulf area rebuilding with Universal Design and Visitability as the norm. We Californians will be counting on their legendary Southern hospitality when the "Big One" shakes us!

Welcome to California, Katrina evacuees!

The National Council on Disability released a report on the demographics of disability in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina. It is reprinted in it entirety below.

With the region being such an important tourist destination it is essential to develop reconstruction plans in accordance with the Inclusive Destination Development model in which Universal Design is ubiquitous in infrastructure, Visitability commonplace in private home construction, and the social participation - and safety - of people with disabilities is guaranteed.

Fo more information on inclusive Destination Development see:

Getting the Design Right: Inclusive Destination Development

Visitability in Murrieta, California

Doug McAllister has been advocatiing for Universal Design in his community since 2003. Now, as city councilperson in Murieta, California he has introduced Visitability standards for the city building code to be considered by the City Council. Initiatives such as McAllister's address the lack of standards and regulations affecting the construction of accessible private homes. Unfortunately for McAllister's strategy, the state of California has retained to itself the prerogrative to author and promulgate Universal Design standards in order to guarantee uniformity statewide.

Resources on Visitability

The IDEA Center at SUNY - Buffalo maintains a collection of online resources explaining Visitability at

Affordable housing in the US has not been not known for innovation in Universal Design. That has just changed.

For the past several years I have been tracking the progress of University Neighborhood Apartments in Berkeley, California. This Saturday, July 23, they will celebrate their grand opening.

Builders, policy makers, architects, and city planners know that barrier-free construction is "readily achievable" -- the trigger phrase for the Americans with Disabilities Act. University Neighborhood Apartments is just the first in a wave of new, barrier-free affordable housing being discussed in alifornia and beyond.

Eleanor Smith, founder of Concrete Change, reports on the shortcomings of the New Urbanism movement in this article at Ragged Edge magazine:

'Come On-A My House' by Ed Smith

Ed Smith posts an interesting, firsthand account of Visitability in his CBC column in the "Disabilty Matters" section. See 'Come On-A My House'

Design for Everybody

Universal design in the single family home market is not something limited to Canada, Japan, the EU, the US, or Australia as one might assume from the examples given at The Rolling Rains Report. The first model Universal Design home in Brazil is being showcased by Marcondes Perito and features design solutions from around the world.

Notice that their definition of Universal Design (Desenho Universal) includes Visitability:
"Freqüentável por visitantes - Todo ambiente construído é usado por dois grupos, os que o usam e os que o visitam."

It is also justified by the aging-in-place argument:

Também a população brasileira está envelhecendo e nossos idosos querem continuar vivendo em suas próprias casas, inseridos na comunidade à qual estão acostumados, o que é muito saudável, pois, essa permanência na casa, além de manter a integração social dos mais velhos, diminuindo a segregação e o preconceito, coloca no mercado consumidor essa crescente e importante parcela da população.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Ethics and Tourism

The Rolling Rains Report argues a moral imperative.

Implied in the philosophy of Universal Design and Visitability; articulated in the field of Disability Studies; and documented in industry best practices it opts for those who fall all the margins of the bell curve of capacity and function in the human population.

It also argues for the environment through the use of sustainable development and green business practices.

If you are ever in a position where it is necessary to fashion a coherent ethical stance as a professional in the travel and hospitality industry the Code of Ethics of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) provides a helpful framework to build upon.

The opening address of Francesco Frangialli at Forum Barcelona on July 14, 2004 is reproduced below. It provides insight into the WTO Ethics document.

The following article on the Inclusive Home Design Act (HR 2353) introduced by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) comes by way of the Justice for All Bulletin of the American Association of People with Disabilities. This approach, also known as Visitability, is a key element in inclusive destination development. Contact information follows the piece.

NY Times on Cruise Ships & ADA

Let's cut right to the end of Linda Greenhouse's Does the Disability Act Stop at the Shoreline?:

Norwegian pointed out in its brief that it was acting "in
response to competitive market dynamics in effect
throughout the cruise industry." In other words, what the
law itself might or might not accomplish, capitalism
already has.

Oh yes, wouldn't life be so much simpler if there were an Invisible Hand moving all things economic effortlessly toward justice? A world where carrots made sticks obsolete?

The new ships they tout as solutions do not incorporate Universal Design or Visitability. The vessels may be improvements, I have not inspected them yet, but they do not represeant a radical break with the discriminatory anthropology that undergirds the sailor's culture and definitions of seaworthiness in the shipbuilding industry.

Read tomorrow's NYT story here:

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