According to Visitable Housing Canada, “VisitAble Housing or VisitAbility is the concept of designing and building homes with basic accessibility. VisitAble homes provide easy access on the main level for everyone. VisitAble housing offers a convenient home for residents and a welcoming environment for visitors in all ages and mobility.”
Visitable homes have three basic accessibility features:
No Step Entrance - At minimum, there must be one accessible, no-step entrance at the front, back or side of the house.
Clear Passageways - All doorways and halls must be wider so there is clear passage throughout the main floor.
Accessible Bathroom - The bathroom or powder room on the main floor must be accessible by visitors who use mobility devices.
These visitable homes not only appeal to people living with disability, but also to young families with strollers, and older people who anticipate changes in mobility as they age and want to age in place. Here in Manitoba, the neighbourhood of Bridgewater in South Winnipeg meets visitable design standards. According to Manitoba Housing, the provincial department responsible for the neighbourhood of Bridgewater, the development will include over 1,000 visitable homes and hundreds of multi-family units with visitable features. To date, more than 200 of these homes have already been built.
As societal demand for accessible and sustainable housing grow, and accessibility laws stretch beyond provincial building codes for new residences, we should see more initiatives like Bridgewater in this province, making our communities more inclusive by design. At the very least it is a step in the right direction. See my comment reply to this post for how Canada's Visitability Standards fall short of those in the US.
For more information on visitable housing visit:
Marnie Courage, OT Reg (MB)
Managing Director of Enabling Access Inc.