Task Force Testimonials

 Trudy Beaulne
Executive Director, Social Development Centre Waterloo Region

My home is not VisitAble, because there are stairs to get in any of the entrances. Having a VisitAble home would have been very beneficial from the time we moved in to it 28 years ago. trudy

My mother-in-law had MS. For a while, she was able to climb the
stairs on her own. However, as the disease progressed and she suffered
some strokes, she became progressively less mobile and needed, first,  to
be carried up the stairs, later only able to sit outside and, eventually, not
even able to get out of the car when they came to visit. This was never a
comfortable situation, and I regret not being able to easily host family

More recently, I myself was in a car accident which resulted in a serious leg injury. Because of the stairs to get into my house, I was sent to Freeport Hospital and had to stay there for two months until I was able to bear some weight on my broken leg.

Before I was able to come home, we needed to add railings and build a bathroom on the main floor which cost close to $10,000. We also ended up removing doorway moldings to allow my wheelchair to get in and out of rooms. I needed to use a wheelchair and walker for almost six months and even now, after three years, it is still a challenge to go up and down those stairs.

When my children were young, having a no-step entrance, wider main floor doorways and a main floor bathroom would have been so very helpful.

We had four children within five years and having no steps would have made getting in and out of the house so much easier. There would have been so much less fumbling to open the door and climb the stairs with hands full of babies and bags.

And, when the our twin daughters were born, both of our older boys were toilet training which is not that easy to do running up and down the stairs with two newborn babies in your arms.

Looking back, there were so many things that would have been easier if our home had been VisitAble. Looking forward, I don’t see the situation changing very much. We are now getting older and it can still be a challenge, especially when carrying things such as groceries or laundry.

Having most, if not all, housing VisitAble would benefit the community in so many ways. Life would be a wee bit smoother for anyone if they don’t need to deal with stairs. Families and friends can visit with greater ease and less worry about maneuvering stairs or not being able to get in and out of rooms.  If someone is injured such as I was, the cost for creating a bathroom can be significant and may be out of reach. Even more important, is the personal and family cost when we are not able to recuperate from injuries at home.


Tanja Curic
Policy Planner, Growth Management Integrated Planning & Public Works, City of Waterloo

My name is Tanja Curic and I am a Policy Planner at the City of Waterloo in the Growth Management division of the Integrated Planning and Public Works department.  I was born and raised in Toronto, and ended up doing my Masters at the University of Waterloo and upon graduation watanjas hired by the City of Waterloo where I have remained for the past ten (10) years.  Projects that I have been involved in at the City have included those pertaining to the Northdale Land Use and Community Improvement Plan Study, the City’s Residential Rental Licensing By-law, and the City’s new Official Plan, among others.  I have also been involved in the Liveable and Inclusive Communities Project and now the VisitAble Housing working group led by the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region. 

I do not currently live in VisitAble housing. In my teens, we moved to a house that had six (6) steps you had to climb to get to the front door, so a VisitAble house would have made moving a whole lot easier and also bringing in groceries or heavy loads.  My parents still live in the same house and the front stairs were not appreciated by my sister when she was pregnant or her kids when they were really little.

I believe that there are people in our community, and nationwide for that matter, that would benefit from having and be appreciative of the opportunity to live in VisitAble housing.

Mary Pappert
RENT - Renters Educating and Networking Together – Tenant Advocate

My current apartment of 8 years is VisitAble, however, our original family home of 33 years had steps to all entrances and the bathroom was too small.Mary Pic

18 years ago, my husband had triple bypass surgery and suffered a stroke at the end of the operation. For the next 5 years, he progressed from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane. His health then deteriorated again and he went back to using a walker, and finally a wheelchair. If we had still been living in our original family home, he would not have been able to get in and out of the house and he couldn’t have used the bathroom.
Luckily at that time, we lived in another apartment where we stayed for 20 years. It had an elevator and wide hall corridors to allow him to practice walking with his physiotherapist.

It did, however, have some problems. The bathroom was too small, and it only had a galley kitchen. The indoor parking was not wheelchair accessible, as it had steps out of the building and another step into the garage. I had to drop him off at the front door, pile groceries into a cart, drive into the underground parking, take the elevator to the lobby, and move him and the groceries into the elevator to get up to our apartment.

We had another insurmountable challenge visiting our two daughters and their families. Both daughters lived in homes with steps at every entrance. One daughter had a bathroom on the main floor, but it was too small. The other daughter did not have a bathroom on the main level. Neither house was VisitAble for their father.

To have a VisitAble design incorporated on the first floor of every home would mean:
- Everyone would be able to enter every home without mounting steps
- Everyone would be able to move easily through the halls and air could circulate easily
- Everyone would be able to use a bathroom without having to go up stairs

A large bathroom on the first floor would be great for people with young children and anyone with a temporary or permanent physical challenge. A baby’s changing table or other physical features could be added as desired to the bathroom. A no-step entry would provide good access for baby strollers, wheelchairs, walkers, etc. and for unloading of groceries, delivery of large articles, moving of furniture, etc. A well graded no-step entry would provide good drainage of water away from the home and prevent flooding or possible collection of moisture or mould in the house.

There are many benefits to VisitAble housing for everyone!

Kevin Young
Community MemberKevin

My home is absolutely not VisitAble. There are stairs everywhere, and no main floor powder room. We have had estimates done, and the renovation costs to make our home VisitAble are out of this world.

Having a VisitAble home would definitely be a benefit. I am aging into a disability, and while most days are good and I can manage the 13 stairs in my home no problem, if I have to have surgery on my leg in the future, there’s no
way I’ll beable to tackle those stairs. Stairs are already an issue some days with my shin splints and cane.

Having all housing in our community be VisitAble would certainly benefit our community, as we need to be totally inclusive. It’s not just about looking at people in wheelchairs. We all have life challenges where VisitAble housingwould be a great help. I believe we need to look at getting the building code reformed to include VisitAble housing as a requirement, like Texas did. It’s a sure-fire way to get builders on board, as having it in code will turn a “should do” into a “must do”.

Sydney Atwood
Social Development Centre Waterloo Region - VisitAbility Project Team Member

My current home is, unfortunately, not VisitAble. You must climb a set of stairs to enter the hSydneyouse and it doesn’t have a washroom on the main floor. 

After having surgery on her foot and not being able live alone, my grandmother lived with my family for about a month. Thinking back on this time, having a VisitAble home would have made things a lot easier. Someone had to be home at all times to help her climb the stairs to the washroom or kitchen. Tackling the front stairs to leave the house with her cast and walker also proved to be a very difficult task. Had our home been VisitAble, these obstacles wouldn’t have existed and she would have been able to move around the house more independently.

I definitely think that VisitAble housing would benefit our community. Many people only focus on their abilities and situation “now”. It’s hard for us to think into the future of a possible leg surgery or accident that may affect your mobility. What about moving large furniture or pushing a baby buggy? VisitAble housing makes things easier for just about everyone and every situation. VisitAble housing for new homes is a no brainer!

Dan Glenn-Graham
Community Member

I currently do not live in a VisitAble home. We would have benefitted from VisitAble housing when we have had people with disabilities, especially wheelchairs, visit our home. VisitAble housing creates a more welcoming city for all people and removes barriers.  It allows for people to age in place and has economic benefits to governments that do not need to build as many nursing homes.

Community Testimonials

Donna Jack
Roll a Mile - President

As the owner of an accessibility firm and accessibility advocate, I am all too aware of the importance of VisitAble homes in the community and of the socio-economic, emotional, Donnaand health benefits full and equal participation in society affords. There is already a huge need for VisitAble homes, one that is only going to increase as the population ages and people look to age in place in final homes. I know too many people, myself included, who are considerably limited in their ability to socialize based on a lack of VisitAble homes.

I myself have mobility and chronic pain issues that require the use of; a cane, canes, walker, wheelchair, or scooter depending upon the day, and have reached the point that we will be moving to a more accessible, and ideally, VisitAble home in the next year.

Incorporation of the three VisitAble features: a level, no-step entrance; wider doorways and clear passage; and a wheelchair accessible washroom on the main floor, can significantly impact the quality of life for a large segment of the population by increasing the ability to attend and host social events, family functions and visits with friends.

Accessibility benefits everyone, and creating all new homes to be VisitAble would significantly benefit society as a whole. 


Paula SaundersPaula Pic
Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region - Director of Access and Awareness

As a person with a mobility disability, I am fortunate to live in a home that is VisitAble.
I have level entry at two of the doors of my home and a washroom that is large and mostly accessible.
The house is all on one level and it’s easy to get to all rooms.

My Mom lives in a home where I can get in the door and use her washroom. It has been a great asset for me to be able to visit her on a regular basis. However, there are many challenges in going to visit anyone else, whether it be family or friends. 
 No one else has a home that I can “easily” get into.
 As I am aging, I am finding that going to their homes may no longer be an option. Often, I am forced to have them come to my home and host get-togethers there, as otherwise it is an issue for me.

Having more “VisitAble” housing in our community would definitely be a benefit for me. It would allow me to go where I want, when I want, and be able to visit who I want.

I work with people with disabilities in my position at the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region and often hear from people about how they cannot be part of social circles as they cannot access people’s homes.


Gillian Veitch
Community Member 

In some ways my apartment is VisitAble, and in some ways it’s not. It is VisitAble in that it's an apartment building, and there are power door openers, barrier free paths of travel, wide hallways and an elevator. There is also an accessible washroom located in the laundry room on each floor. 

The layout of my apartment makes it not VisitAble. It's a two floor apartment, with the bedrooms and washroom located on the first floor, and the kitchen and living space located on the second floor. Although people could technically visit my home, the downstairs hall is very narroGillw, the washroom is very small, and we'd have no space to actually VISIT that is living space, as all living space is really located upstairs, other than my office which is downstairs. The accessible washroom in the laundry room also isn't very accessible as there is no power door opener on the laundry room door which is very heavy, and the accessible washroom is locked, and the key presumably with the superintendent or the Housing office (with no sign posted, who would know?) 

I have definitely had some cases where VisitAble Housing would have been useful--such as when I sprained my ankle and had to go stay at my grandma’s instead of my apartment, since my apartment was up a steep flight of stairs, and my grandma's house had VisitAble access through the back laneway/garden into the house.

Currently, my main issue with having my kitchen and living space on the second floor is that groceries are heavy! I have repetitive strain issues with my hands, and carrying the groceries up the stairs to the kitchen can be a big issue for me. I haven't had any issues that I can think of with visitors not being able to visit my home though so far, although my friend's older dog definitely found the stairs to be quite a challenge to get up to the living room!

Having more or all of our housing in the community be VisitAble would benefit our community by enabling people to stay in their current housing regardless of life changes, aging, injury or disability. It will also allow our communities to stay connected with family members and friends who are older adults or who have disabilities, or friends with babies in strollers etc. 

Preet KohliPreet
B. Arch, M.E.S. (Planning), PMP

The house I live in does not have VisitAble principles. It is a typical suburban house (with cookie cutter kind of floor plans).

So far, it hasn’t been a challenge for me as such; however, I am not able to invite my friend on wheelchair to my house.

VisitAble housing would absolutely benefit our community. Today in Ontario, one person in seven has some disability and in 20 years, one person in five will have a disability (Ontario, 2012). This person with a disability could be a friend, relative or myself. VisitAble housing principles can enable our friends or relatives to visit us in our homes and not choose some public place such as park or coffee shop, etc. A step-free entrance is a warm welcome for friends and relatives with disabilities.

 (Reference: Ontario, G. of. (2012). Publications: About the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) | Ministry of Community and Social Services. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/publications/accessibility/aoda2005.aspx)

Community Member 
Attended VisitAble Housing Forum on March 23, 2016 

Currently does not live in VisitAble Housing. Main entry is a landing. Back entry has a sill for slider, but door is too narrow for wheelchairs.
My mother is 88 and has trouble with steps and it's challenging for her to ascend of descend stairs.
Our aging baby boomer population will have more accessible issues in the future. Would think that builders would have more purchasers or people interested in purchasing [VisitAble] homes.


Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS® (KWAR) Member Testimonials
The following testimonials were received from participants during a VisitAble Housing workshop put on by the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region & the KW VisitAble Housing Task Force

Dawn ClellandKitchener

Current home is not VisitAble, [because it has] stairs to enter home and narrow bathroom doorway. About 5 steps to main level.
Has not having a VisitAble home been a challenge for you or your family?
Difficult for elderly family visiting. My friend’s son suffered injury which caused brain damage, resulting in him needing a wheelchair. I helped her with exercises for rehabilitation. Coming to my home for this rehabilitation was very challenging. Getting into the house was very difficult- carrying this boy in, as well as his wheelchair, especially for two women.
How could the community benefit as a whole if all or most homes were VisitAble?
It would welcome all people to visit any home. It would also make any unexpected injuries acquired by family members not the same challenge to return to the family home. 

Nina Brisevac – Kitchener

Current home is not VisitAble, [because it has] 2 stairs to entrance of house.
Has not having a VisitAble home been a challenge for you or your family?
Elderly parent has difficulty. 
How could the community benefit as a whole if all or most homes were VisitAble?
Much easier access, much safer. I would like my mom to come live with us; currently impossible. Also, I broke my ankle 2 winters ago (at age 54) and the two entry stairs made it very difficult and quite scary to come and go. I found it a saving grace that we have a main floor 4 piece bathroom which enabled me to stay on the main floor.


Current home is not VisitAble,[ because there are] too many levels and stairs/standing showers.
Has not having a VisitAble home been a challenge for you or your family?
My in-laws are in their 80s and it’s a challenge for them and for us as well.
How could the community benefit as a whole if all or most homes were VisitAble?
Everyone could be independent. There would be less senior homes.


Current home is not VisitAble, [because it has] 3 levels with lots of stairs.
Has not having a VisitAble home been a challenge for you or your family?
When had surgery, it was hard to move.
How could the community benefit as a whole if all or most homes were VisitAble?
It would be a tremendous help. People would not need to keep on buying new places just to accommodate changes. 


Current home is not VisitAble, [because it has] steps into home, [and] doorways would not accommodate a wheelchair.
Has not having a VisitAble home been a challenge for you or your family?
Only recently – my 98 year old mother now uses a walker. She can still do steps, but tires quickly.
How could the community benefit as a whole if all or most homes were VisitAble?
Accessibility by everyone; elderly remain in home longer in life. 

Wanda GuzowskiWaterloo

Current home is not VisitAble, [because of] stairs.
Has not having a VisitAble home been a challenge for you or your family?
Yes. We have a friend in a retirement home, who cannot visit us.

Peggy StewartLondon

Current home is not VisitAble, [because it’s an] old house (107 years), has steps and small rooms.
Has not having a VisitAble home been a challenge for you or your family?
Yes – not accessible for mobility challenged
How could the community benefit as a whole if all or most homes were VisitAble?

Angela BaasWaterloo

Current home is not VisitAble, [because of] the width of the doorway, the size of the bathroom, and the stairs at the entrance.
Has not having a VisitAble home been a challenge for you or your family?
Currently the challenge is when older relatives come to visit (stairs to enter and bathroom size)
How could the community benefit as a whole if all or most homes were VisitAble?
Homeowners could remain in their home longer and adapt it easier if they need to make it more VisitAble or adaptable 

 Tammy NolanWaterloo

Current home is not VisitAble, [because it has] 2 steps into my house.
Has not having a VisitAble home been a challenge for you or your family?
Not ever yet, but I’m sure this will change.
How could the community benefit as a whole if all or most homes were VisitAble?
Fewer accidents. Fewer medical bills. Stay in home longer. Saves money in communities.  

 Krista JonkerWaterloo

Current home is not VisitAble, [because] the 2 piece bathroom is not large enough.
Has not having a VisitAble home been a challenge for you or your family?
Yes, I have a 7 year old nephew in a wheelchair. We have used a ramp into the house. Our friend in a wheelchair was only able to visit until he needed a washroom break.

Tania Benninger – Kitchener

Current home is VisitAble – it’s a condo apartment. 
Is having a VisitAble home a benefit for you or your family?
I usually take the stairs, but if one day circumstances change, I would not have to move. 

Want to submit your own testimonial? Visit http://waterlooregion.org/submit for more info!
For more info on VisitAble Housing: