ABILITY AwarenessMark Goffeney, born with no arms, hammers on an ABILITY HouseVolunteer who is blind uses power drill on ABILITY HouseVolunteer with Intellectual Disabilities with Actress Hope AllenVolunteer who uses a wheelchair working on Honolulu ABILITY House
Building a World of Inclusion for People with Health Conditions and Disabilities


Helpful Definitions



The visitability movement asks developers to incorporate into all homes they build three basic features allowing people with limited mobility to enter and move about the home: at least one no-step entrance; a bathroom on the first floor big enough that someone can enter it using a wheelchair and close the door; and doors and hallways on the first floor wide enough to navigate through (32" and 36" respectively). Constructing visitable homes remove barriers encountered by members of our community, our children's school friends, our parents or aging grandparents, anyone who breaks a leg, and those of us who use wheeled luggage or move heavy items into or out of our homes-all of us. If visitability features are incorporated into the design of a home from the beginning, the total cost is negligible-an estimated $200 or less for a single-family home. The United Kingdom has passed legislation requiring all new homes to be visitable, as have many cities and counties across the U.S., such as Atlanta, Austin and Toledo.

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Universal Design

Universal Design is a strategy that simplifies life for everyone by making products, communications, and the built environment usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without adaptation or specialized design. Universal design can generally be accomplished at little added cost and prevents the need for multiple technologies that may not interface with each other.

The term "universal design" was coined by the late Ronald L. Mace, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. "The universal design concept increases the supply of usable housing by including universal features in as many houses as possible," he said, "and allows people to remain in their homes as long as they like."

Some examples of universal design include the following: installing standard electrical receptacles higher than usual above the floor so they are in easy reach of everyone; selecting wider doors; making flat entrances; installing handles for doors and drawers that require no gripping or twisting to operate-such as lever or loop handles; and placing storage spaces within reach of both short and tall people.

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