BY JOHN GROE
Every day, it seems, I am asked the same question: “Where can I find a home that is suitable for my situation – one that won’t break the bank?”
Sometimes the question is about a mother, or father, or grandparent, or mobility-challenged child.
The answer is a tough one, because our current building codes (provincial and federal), along with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, do not require private residential dwellings to be accessible.
There is a common thread running through housing development across Canada. It goes like this: fit as many dwelling types as possible into as small an area as possible. Use as little land as you can and get more out of it.
Most housing developers don’t think about the needs of people with disabilities. There is a general assumption that everyone living in the spaces they design are “able” and can safely access all areas of the home.
Of course that’s not true. And in the end, many people have housing that is simply not accessible or safe.
If you’ve ever been a parent pushing a stroller with a sleeping child or someone who has just undergone a hip or knee replacement, you know the frustrations of trying to navigate your way into a building. But when that building is your home and the challenge is not temporary but permanent, in every corner of your life, it can be profoundly miserable as well as unsafe.
According to Statistics Canada, about 22% of Canadians aged 15 or over – about 6.2 million people – have one or more disabilities. That number is expected to rise substantially in the next five to 10 years with an aging population.
Many of these have lived in unsafe conditions for years because of the shortage of accessible housing. In new residential developments, few homes are accessible. When they are, few can afford them.
The Ontario Building Code has regulations mandating accessibility in apartment buildings, but not detached houses, townhouses or rooming houses with fewer than eight people.
Ideal housing has open-plan designs with wider passageways and doorways. It has things like smooth floors, reachable storage and work surfaces. It has bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms that allow a wheelchair to turn around easily. It has thoughtfully-placed railings throughout. It has large enough showers, with no threshold, for a seat or wheelchair.
At ADL, we understand that making your home accessible and safe can be challenging. That’s why we offer a wide range of home modification and lifting solutions to make your daily life easier and more comfortable.
We provide industry-leading assessments that accurately determine the factors that limit your accessibility, and provide safe, cost-effective solutions. We work with occupational therapists, personal injury lawyers, social workers, adjusters, case managers, funding agencies, product providers, architects and engineers.
John Groe is CEO and Accessibility Consultant at Accessible Daily Living.