Everyone Has a Disability - Universal Design Addresses that Issue
From: David Hornick (dhornicknycap.rr.com)
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2008 04:06:48 -0700 (PDT)
It's important to broaden the discussion of designing housing for the
"disabled".  In fact, it's important to consider the definition of
"disability".  I have visited several cohousing communities that are built
on steep slopes or which have unprotected walk areas requiring residents to
deal with snow and ice to travel to the commonhouse or which ignore the
enormous challenge that stairs impose on elderly residents or residents or
visitors that rely on wheelchairs.  Because of concern about "footprint",
some cohousing is designed to be narrow and tall incorporating stairways
that are difficult to negotiate.

I suggest that the issue of disability in cohousing be broadened to
encompass the subject of UNIVERSAL DESIGN.

Universal Design:  "Design of as much of the environment as possible to be
as useable as  possible by as many people as possible."

This definition is attributed to Ron Mace, a talented  architect and
considered by many to be the "father of universal design".

Ron Mace died prematurely a few years ago.  He lived with significant
disabilities and is credited with authoring the term "universal design".

Learn more at:

Center for Universal Design NCSU - About the Center - Ronald L. Mace

Universal design encompasses much, much more than "barrier-free" or
"accessible" design.

For example, it addresses such issues as:
    permitting children and shorter people to use light switches, counters,
hang bars in closets, storage spaces, etc.

    acknowledging that we are all born with significant functional
limitations which we "outgrow" as we mature" and then develop other
limitations as we move through adulthood into old age

    landscape design that is friendly to young and old and people with
significant functional disabilities

    use of colors and textures that enable people with visual handicaps to
interface more safely and effectively with their living environments

The subject of universal design deserves special attention by everyone
involved in the design of co-housing communities.

I recommend that you read Ron Mace's last speech to gain a quick
understanding of Universal Design:

Center for Universal Design NCSU - About the Center - Ronald L. Mace Last
Speech <http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/about_us/usronmacespeech.htm>

This presentation will provide information that you'll find extremely
helpful with understanding this simple but often neglected technology.

Among other points, Mr. Mace states:

Universal design broadly defines the user. It¹s a consumer market driven
issue. Its focus is not specifically on people with disabilities, but all
people. It actually assumes the idea, that everybody has a disability and I
feel strongly that that¹s the case. We all become disabled as we age and
lose ability, whether we want to admit it or not. It is negative in our
society to say ³I am disabled² or ³I am old.² We tend to discount people who
are less than what we popularly consider to be ³normal.² To be ³normal² is
to be perfect, capable, competent, and independent. Unfortunately, designers
in our society also mistakenly assume that everyone fits this definition of
³normal.² This just is not the case.

Take some time to explore this concept.

David Hornick

On 3/26/08 6:16 AM, "cohousing-l-request [at] cohousing.org"
<cohousing-l-request [at] cohousing.org> wrote:

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> Today's Topics:
>    1. Coho Preschool? (deb McDonough)
>    2. Re: Disabled folks in your community? (Stuart Joseph)
>    3. Puget Sound Cohousing Fair at Songaia Cohousing, April 20
>       (Craig Ragland)
>    4. Call for Articles: "Politics in Community, " Communities
>       issue #140 (Fred H Olson)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2008 10:43:40 -0400
> From: deb McDonough <jadimarah [at] hotmail.com>
> Subject: [C-L]_ Coho Preschool?
> To: <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>
> Message-ID: <BLU137-W41E34DC9CD46ED267D78CEBEFD0 [at] phx.gbl>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> I've tried searches and now try the mailing list.  Does anybody know of a
> community that includes a preschool in the common house?  Is your own common
> house used regularly by residents between the hours of 9 and 3 that this would
> be a big conflict?  Are there other reasons we should not consider this
> concept?
> Deb McDonough
> _________________________________________________________________
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> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2008 10:03:57 -0400
> From: Stuart Joseph <stuart [at] caercoburn.org>
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Disabled folks in your community?
> To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>
> Message-ID: <47E9064D.3090501 [at] caercoburn.org>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
> Sharon,
> You are correct. I have problems walking any great distance so I am
> limited as to the places I can visit, not just cohousing communities but
> social events, festivals, etc.
> The Americans Disabilities Acts mandates accessibility in public spaces
> and that includes the Common House, so folks may not have a choice about
> paying for things.
> I do like the idea of the electric doors not only for the reasons you
> mentioned but for entrance by someone in a handicapped scooter or
> electric wheelchair.
> Sharon Villines wrote:
>> As Raines said there is lots on this in the archives, but I wanted to
>> say again what I've said before -- everyone is disabled at some point
>> and probably several times. Life is much easier if you plan your
>> community around people needing no stairs or electric doors, etc.
>> The people who most use our elevator are not those who have walking
>> problems but those with children -- it's faster, they are in stroller,
>> they are carrying too much stuff. The electric front door was a huge
>> boon to those pushing strollers, with grocery carts, on crutches,
>> carrying boxes, etc.  Wide doors are a real convenience and narrow
>> doors seem very strange when you get used to wide doors.
>> Thinking this way will help everyone agree to pay for features that
>> many think will benefit only a few. It is much more likely that
>> everyone will benefit.
>> There is also the issue of visiting. If your whole complex is
>> accessible, everyone can visit everyone else.
>> Sharon
>> ----
>> Sharon Villines
>> Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC
>> http://www.takomavillage.org
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> ------------------------------
> Message: 3
> Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2008 07:26:02 -0700
> From: "Craig Ragland" <craigragland [at] gmail.com>
> Subject: [C-L]_ Puget Sound Cohousing Fair at Songaia Cohousing, April
> 20
> To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>
> Message-ID:
> <3d048fc40803250726l5a1d3329h840ad0fd640eb192 [at] mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> The second Puget Sound Cohousing Fair (Washington State) will be on Sunday,
> April 20th.
> If your cohousing group (forming or established) is in Puget Sound and you'd
> like a table, please let us know. This is a great way for Forming Groups to
> connect with new prospective members and for people with Units for Sale to
> share - I heard of one unit that sold from a contact made at the Feb 17
> edition of the Puget Sound Cohousing Fair at Jackson Place Cohousing.
> I hope those of you in other regions will explore cooperative marketing
> efforts like this. It is so much easier to draw larger numbers of interested
> parties when you give them choices and are open-hearted about serving their
> interests - rather than being so focused on your own. Hosting Fairs like
> this is also a great way for established cohousing communities to support
> forming groups.
> See our Cohousing Website Classified Ad for more detail:
> http://www.cohousing.org/PugetCohoFair
> (P.S. What do you think of this "vanity" URL? - a Classified Ad "feature"
> I'm considering)

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