Planning for accessibility and visitability
From: Thomas Lofft (
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2011 19:54:47 -0800 (PST)

Debby Vajda wrote an excellent summary of the need for accessible housing as 
well as schools, gov't offices, medical facilities, and all other service 
At Liberty Village, MD,  a minimum standard of visitability was embraced in the 
earliest planning criteria. 
Two homes were built in the first phase for full first floor accessibility 
including accessible kitchen and two master suites with two full accessible 
baths on the main floor.
Lot reservations have been made for another two such homes in Phase 2 this year.
One of the original main floor accessible homes is now available for purchase. 
Details are available at:
Tom Lofft
Liberty Village, MD
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2011 18:44:43 -0800
From: Debby Vajda <debby [at]>
Subject: [C-L]_ Planning for accessibility and visitability
To: cohousing-l [at]

Hi Everyone,
As many of you know, when CoHo Ecovillage in Corvallis, Oregon was in 
formation, we had a commitment to making most of our units accessible 
and visitable to people using wheelchairs and walkers. We were fortunate 
in having early members whose adult children were in wheelchairs, which 
made an impact on our initial thinking and planning.

We then became interested in opening up the opportunity of living in 
cohousing to someone who might typically be isolated due to physical 
disability, and unable to join our community without financial 
assistance because of limited income. Out of this came the creation of 
our 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, A Home in Community. AHIC purchased a 
unit at CoHo which will always be available as an affordable rental for 
a low-income adult with physical disabilities.

Since the creation of AHIC, our vision has grown, as we have become 
increasingly aware of the many benefits to the entire community of 
accessibility and visitability, whether or not a particular unit is set 
aside, as we have done. Here are some of these benefits:

* People with physical disabilities have the opportunity to live in
community, and the community benefits from their presence.
* All community members are able to age in place, even as our
physical abilities change with time.
* All homes are visitable by everyone, broadening our connections
and friendships.

"Visitability" is a growing trend nationwide. The term refers to 
single-family or owner-occupied housing 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:

* one zero-step entrance.
* doors with 32 inches of clear passage space.
* one bathroom on the main floor you can get into in a wheelchair

We would like to strongly encourage communities in formation to consider 
accessibility and visitability during the planning stages of your 
community. Here are some of the many resources available to you.

* The 30-minute presentation, "Building An Inclusive Community: The
AHIC Experience", made by AHIC at the 2009 National Cohousing
Conference is now available via You Tube. You can access both
parts of it directly from our home page at <>

* A useful booklet on visitability can be found at more
resources, of course, can be found throughout the web.

* If your community has an interest in forming something similar to
AHIC but you'd like to avoid the hassle and expense of forming
your own nonprofit, we may be able to assist you by becoming your
fiscal sponsor. We would be happy to discuss this possibility with you.

Please feel free to let us know if we can be of help. Let's make our 
communities accessible to everyone -- including ourselves, in our 
perhaps not so physically able futures!

Debby Vajda
info [at]


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