Proposal urges wheelchair-friendly home design
Allan Appel, Scripps Howard News Service

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

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Ninety-five percent of federally supported homes are not required to meet any standard of accessibility. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) cited that shocking fact two years ago when she introduced the Inclusive Home Design Act (HR 2353). The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Benefits by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The term visitability incorporates three requirements: at least one no- step entrance; doors and hallways wider than usual; and at least a half- bathroom on the first floor big enough to accommodate a person in a wheelchair and allow that person to close the door.

That's it. No fancy amenities. No expensive accoutrements. Just construct the house so a person in a wheelchair can get in, navigate the hallways and use a bathroom on the first floor. Seems pretty simple.

And here is what makes this a no-brainer: Experts in architecture and design estimate the total average cost per dwelling is $98 (on a concrete slab) and $573 (for a dwelling with a basement or crawl space).