"Visitability" Measure To Be Re-Introduced In Congress
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 29, 2003
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--According to recent U.S. census information, about 20 percent of the population experiences a disability. A University of Michigan initiative estimates that the number will climb to nearly 50 percent by the end of the decade as "baby boomers" age.
But federal law only requires 5 percent of new homes to be accessible to people who use wheelchairs, for example.
"Visitability" is the relatively new term for the movement toward including accessibility features -- such as no-step entries, doorways that are wide enough for wheelchairs, and accessible first-floor bathrooms -- in all homes. The cost of building these features into a new home can be less than $500, while the cost of building these in later can run in the tens of thousands of dollars.
For this reason, U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois introduced the first federal visitability legislation, HR 5683, last fall. He plans to reintroduce it in the new Congress. The measure would require all newly built single-family homes and townhouse apartments receiving federal funds to meet basic visitability standards.
Builders have been reluctant to accept new visitability regulations, but say they would encourage voluntary efforts.
"Unlimited By Design", a traveling exhibit featuring universal design, is now on display at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design through March 22.
Unlimited By Design