What gets in the way of building accessible housing?
How urgent is the problem?
What level of access is necessary?
ANUHD takes a disability rights approach and points out the National Disability Strategy should be a driving force for change and that the Livable Housing Design Guidelines Gold level is the best way to achieve our obligations to the National Disability Strategy and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We all have a right to appropriate housing that is fit for purpose.
However, we can also take a universal design approach. The Livable Housing Design Guidelines mentioned in the Options Paper, take this approach. The Guidelines recognise that universal design features (accessible features) are just good design suited to everyone. It isn’t just about disability rights, it is also about home safety, productivity and economic gains for the community.
For more help on how to respond, see CUDA’s summary of the key points and a questionnaire with your comments that can be your submission, or part of your submission, to the Australian Building Codes Board. This is about our future homes and those of the ones we love.
The current standard design ideas for homes goes back more than a century. It’s time for a rethink on home design to suit the way we live our lives now is the claim in an article by Kirsty Voltz in The Conversation. Home designs are not keeping up with societal changes that include affordability, size of homes, accessibility across the lifespan, and designing so that as lives change, the interior of the home can adapt to suit. The risks are in not recognising the need to change and adapt to current circumstances, lifestyles, societal changes and personal aspirations. The article contains links to other references and concludes, “Existing housing stock is designed around the numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms that appeal to the market and so fails to be responsive to what people need from housing in the 21st century.” This includes the need for an update to the National Construction Code for creating homes that provide at least a basic level of accessibility for all. The picture is of the 3 bedroom home that Kirsty Voltz designed to fit in the space of an obsolete driveway.
With the upcoming ABCB Options Paper for Accessible Housing about to be released, the South Australian Housing Trust Housing Design Guidelines. are worth a visit. It points out that the Adaptable Housing Standard (AS4299) is now outdated and can be replaced by theLivable Housing Design Guidelines as both of these are voluntary. There are detailed drawings to show dimensions of circulation spaces and placement of fixtures and fittings.
If you want to know what people think about accessible housing, the findings from a recent surveywill give you a good idea. With the prospect of a Regulatory Impact Assessment of accessible housing on the horizon this is a timely report. There are four narratives that frame the report: the housing industry view; the government view; prospective buyers’ view; and the perspective of people who need mainstream accessible housing. The survey was initiated by Australian Network on Universal Housing Designand the data were collated, analysed and discussed by Courtney Wright and Jacinta Colley from Griffith University. It is a lengthy but detailed report. Essential reading for anyone interested in this topic and/or who wants to know the history behind the universal design in housing campaign that goes back nearly 20 years. Dr Courtney Wright will be presenting the findings at the 3rd Australian Universal Design Conference in Brisbane 4-5 September.
A UK blog site has an article that discusses the market appeal of Lifetime Homes in the UK context. Dominic Aitken cites some interesting research and reports by the London School of Economics, Ipsos MORI, and Habinteg Housing and Papworth Trust. UK homes are traditionally two storey with the bathroom and toilet upstairs. They are generally smaller than Australian homes too, which makes it more difficult in terms of circulation spaces. It was thought that Part Mof the building code would create greater accessibility in homes, but it hasn’t helped much at all. The best part is that it requires a downstairs toilet, which is handy for everyone. Aitken explains his own research project on this topic looking at homebuyers and estate agents. The blog site has attracted several good comments and are worth reading too. By the way, it seems stair lifts are not that popular with purchasers.
Specialist Disability Accommodation housing (SDA) is seen as a niche housing product that governments should pay for. But a new study shows the demand is so great private developers need to get on board. With $700m a year earmarked for SDA it means a move from grants-based funding to a market-based system. However, there are many others who need basic accessible housing who do not quality for SDA, and this is still a gap in the market. But will the market think that the issues have been solved with SDA and do nothing about mainstream housing? This article was found in The Conversation. SDA is a must if Australia is going to meet its commitments under the National Disability Strategy.
In his conference paper, The Future of Housing for the Elderly: Four Strategies that Can Make a Difference, Jon Pynoos continues to advocate for accessible housing and home modifications. His arguments are not new – they just need to be kept up, given there has been no change in Australia or the USA since this campaign began some 20 years or so ago. It is not a long article, but gives an overview of some of the issues preventing good renovation design and design of new homes. He then discusses some of the particular issues in the USA including older people ageing in ageing buildings. As for new homes, he cites building standards as being the biggest barrier to creating homes that will suit people throughout their lifespan, and that won’t need modifications later on. Professor Pynoos adds more evidence on the failure of voluntary codes in this regard. His conclusions join the dots between all the elements that would make for successful lifelong homes. Jon Pynoos is well known in housing and home modification circles. Over his long career he has campaigned for accessible home designs and universal design through his many articles and conference presentations.
In the rush to get people walking and being “active travellers” we’ve forgotten a place that most of us walk everyday – our home. This becomes even more important for people who have difficulty getting out and about in the outdoor built environment. So what features should we be looking at in indoor environments to encourage physical activity? Maureen C Ashe is interested in this question. Her book chapter, Indoor Environments and Promoting Physical Activity Among Older People, looks at the issues. You will need institutional access for a free read from SpringerLink.
Abstract: Our house, our homes, ourselves: who we are, and the places that we inhabit are indelibly interwoven. Data are fast accumulating on the significant role of the outdoor built environment and physical activity (and health). For populations such as older adults with (or without) mobility impairments, a poorly structured built environment can significantly restrict community engagement. Despite the fact that we spend most of our lives indoors, there is far less empirical evidence to discern features of the indoor environment that influence physical activity. There is a need to focus on buildings incorporating age-friendly designs to support “ageing in place,” to build homes (and communities) that nurture social interaction, and identify destinations and routines that encourage adoption of activity into daily life habits.