The VisitAble Housing Project is a partnership project between the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies, the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region, and builders/developers, planners, regulators (e.g. building code), real estate agents, consumers/community members and advocates/service providers who form the Kitchener Waterloo Task Force. “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 and offer convenient homes for residents and a welcoming environment for visitors of all ages and levels of mobility.
VisitAble homes have three basic accessibility features:
- No-step entrance (at the front, back or side of the house)
- Wider doorways and clear passage on the main floor
- A main floor bathroom (or powder room) that can be accessed by visitors who use mobility devices
Find out what our Task Force and community members have to say about VisitAble housing at http://waterlooregion.org/Testimonials
Want to submit your own testimonial? Visit http://waterlooregion.org/submit for more info!
Livable Communities Project: Aging with and into Disabilities
The Social Development Centre Waterloo Region has worked in partnership with the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies since 2009 with VisitAble Housing playing a role since the earliest joint project. The first project was started in 2009 and entailed applying draft tools for assessing the livability of a community and also set priorities for action to address issues identified in the assessment process. The K-W and area project was one of six Canadian communities that applied a framework of ten elements and six principles of a livable community for those who are aging with disabilities or into disabilities. Social Development Centre Waterloo Region, working with local community members, applied the framework to an urban community (the City of Waterloo), and to a rural community (Woolwich Township). See the presentation on what was done in this project.
In 2011, the second project was started with the intention to test tools for planning or assessing action on priority issues. Six projects were identified for the K-W and area project and groups were established to test either a planning tool or an assessment tool. See the attached summary of working groups for this project. What was learned in this project is summarized in the attached presentation.
The third and current project focuses on VisitAble Housing. It expands on issues that were identified in the first project and is intended to promote awareness of, and commitment to, developing VisitAble Housing in Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding area.
VisitAble Housing – A Simple Solution to a Priority Problem
In the community assessment completed during the first Livable Community project, various housing related issues were identified as top priorities for both the City of Waterloo and for Woolwich Township. The recommendations from the community were to improve support for independent living in-home, the need to ensure that affordable, subsidized housing designs are accessible, and the need for more available affordable housing. It was during this process that “VisitAble Housing” was first identified and seen to be a simple strategy to increase accessibility for the Waterloo Region proposed inclusion strategy. See the attached presentation made to Waterloo City Council. Since that early start, the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region has engaged community working groups to give input on important consultations related to accessibility. Visitable housing principles have been proposed as the standard for all residential buildings to consultations on the Built Environment Standards of the Accessibility for All Ontarians and, more recently, to the Ontario Building Code for accessibility requirements. See the attached for these submissions.
If you are a professional or community member and want to find out more about VisitAble Housing, contact us. It's never too late to share your ideas! Please contact Trudy Beaulne for more information. For more resources on VisitAbility and more about the VisitAbility project, please visit the VisitAble Housing Canada website .