What is visitability?
Visitability refers to designing a single-family or owner-occupied home designed in such a way that it can be lived in or visited by people who have trouble with steps or who use wheelchairs or walkers. A house is visitable when it meets three basic requirements:
Who benefits from visitability?
Homes that are visitable benefit people with disabilities, but also:
What does it look like in a home?
Do visitability features change the character and feel of a new home? Absolutely not. Homes with built in visitability features are no different than a home without these features. The zero step entry can be located anywhere (such as in the garage) allowing for terraced or stepped front porches, and first floor bathrooms accessible by wheelchair look just like a residential bathroom, and not like a hospital bathroom. You only notice visitability when you need it.
Does it cost more?
Incorporating visitability features in new home construction costs almost nothing. Designing a zero step entry, adding wider doors on the first floor, and configuring a first floor bathroom to allow a wheelchair to enter and close the door add only a few hundred extra dollars in the construction of a new home.
How do we get this done?
Increasing the amount of visitable homes in Idaho will take developers who want to do the right thing, local governments that encourage and incentivize visitability features, and communities that support greater accessibility and aging in place. We can not just pass a law in Idaho requiring visitability features in new homes. We can work together to voluntarily change how we build new communities and neighborhoods.
How does visitability align with our values as Idahoans?
As Idahoans, we value our freedom and independence, and our families and communities. Building visitable homes increases the ability of Idahoans with disabilities and older adults to both find housing that works for them, but also helps keep people in their homes and communities throughout their lifespan. Visitable homes and neighborhoods keep families together and promote strong communities.
Go to the Visitability website hosted by the National Council on Independent Living for more information.