We think it’s about time that accessibility became a household word.
In July 2015 the population of Canadians aged 65+ became larger than the number of children under 15.
This means Canada has reached a point that it has never been at before in history. The population is aging and will start using buildings and spaces differently.
The B.C. building code already requires public spaces to be wheelchair accessible but there are no accessibility requirements for private homes.
Step-less entries should be a standard feature in homes just as they are in restaurants, office buildings, malls etc. This doesn’t mean we must do without stairs. It just means that ramps and slopes must be integrated into the immediate area to give people of varying abilities an equal opportunity to access places they want to visit. After all everybody can use a ramp but not everybody can use stairs. The extra-large bathroom stalls are a common sight in all public buildings and we all know not to park in the handicap parking spaces closest to the front door of commercial buildings.
So why do we not give the same considerations to our private homes? The same people who use the public buildings also need to come home or visit friends and family. By not building accessible homes we exclude these people from being able to visit us.
Nobody should have to miss out on a friend or relative’s birthday party or dinner invitation just because they can’t get through front door.
Plan for your future
If you are building a new home or doing a major renovation, you have a great opportunity to be able to improve the current lives of you and your family and the future families that will live in your home.
I was at a home show a few weeks ago and mentioned to a window manufacturer that we are building a cottage for our future that will be 100% wheelchair accessible. The representative looked at us and said “why, what are you expecting to happen”? And then he laughed.
That’s not the first time I have had this type of a reply when talking about accessible design.
Accessibility seems to be an afterthought to many people. The modus operandi seems to be to wait until something happens (like an accident or illness) that affects our physical abilities, and then figure out how we will manage in our home. It’s a bit late by then because the changes you will need to make will likely be very disruptive and expensive.
This lack of future planning has got to change, and I am on a mission to help you do that.
We need to adopt the scout’s motto of ‘be prepared’.
Accessible design needs to be incorporated as a standard feature in our homes right from the start and not considered something special that we can add-on or think about later in life.
Mahatma Gandhi said once “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.
So, I challenge you to think outside the box and be part of the solution to improving our homes for the future.
For all our futures.