A new voluntary building code on house design is being released today by Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Bill Shorten. (please note link is to the media article on the code, not the code itself).
Some exerpts from the article (SMH 13.7.10 author Kristy Needham):
A minimalist step-free shower; a corridor wide enough for a sofa; and a front entry you don’t have to wrestle the pram up.
An ageing population of baby boomers who dislike stairs and young parents wanting better safety for toddlers are key targets for the Liveable Housing Design, the consumer-facing brand of the code developed with the property industry. (Ed: because of course the key people couldn’t be people living with a disability now could it? Gahhh [yes I am aware that some people with a disability also fit into the young parents and ageing baby boomer categories, but I think this code includes them more by chance than design])
the fashionable step-free shower was already standard in homemaker magazines, while wider corridors were useful to anyone moving furniture. (Ed: yes because I spend so much time moving furniture, compared to someone wanting a wider hallway for mobility devices, and fashion is sooo important)
US research showed 90 per cent of newly built homes would at some point have someone with a mobility issue residing there. Too many Australian homes were unable to adapt to a family’s evolving needs, let alone wheelchair use, Ms Starr said.
”It makes good sense to design homes so they evolve with their users. It works as well for mums to be as it does for senior Australians.” (Ed: seriously what about designing a home so that PWD can use it without having to undertake extensive and/or expensive renovations or live in a house that doesn’t meet their needs?)
The Master Builders chief executive, Wilhelm Harnisch, said: ”Improving the safety of kitchens and other areas means people can stay longer in the home instead of going to an aged care facility.” (Ed: this is very important for a number of reasons, but still erases PWD who might be able to live comfortably in a well designed space without needing to go to a care facility either, regardless of their age)
By 2020 most new homes to offer:
– Level entry
– Clear access to entry
– Wider corridors
– Toilet on entry level
– Reinforced bathroom wall to allow future railing
– Step-free shower
I’ve quoted most of the article here. So is there one glaring thing that jumps out at you? There was for me. Despite the fact that this is being launched by the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities only one person says this code may be beneficial for people using wheelchairs. Sure access issues affect more than just people with disabilities, but I still would have expected more discussion of PWD in an article which is about housing to meet accessibility needs. I would have expected the code to be about PWD.
Note: I am Currently Able Bodied. If I’ve made a glaring error or completely missed the point please point it out to me and I will fix it.