Visitability and why it matters blog post cover art for AskSAMIE How to Age in Place blog showing woman and man walking into a house with a realtor.

Visitability and Why it Matters!

Living with a physical disability can present unique challenges, and these difficulties are often compounded in the home environment. Visitability is a concept that looks to improve accessibility for all people even when a person with a disability doesn't live in that home. It's a focus on considering all the people that might come to the space and putting in place features that it woud make it comfortable for them to come.

 In this article, we'll:

  • explore what visitability is and why it matters
  • look at how to make your home visitable
  • the differences between visitability and accessibility
  • provide additional resources for support

By understanding the importance of making our environments accessible for everyone, we can create better communities for everyone –so join us as we learn about what visitability is and why it matters! Don't forget to sign up for Sign up for our weekly newsletter for the latest and greatest in adaptive equipment and to get weekly updates on further topics related to visitability!

What's visitability?

Visitability is a term used to describe the design of a home or building that makes it easier for people with disabilities to access and use. This concept has been gaining traction in recent years, as more people seek to make their homes and buildings more accessible proactively. Visitability involves features such as wider doors and hallways, ramps, and other modifications that allow those with physical limitations greater independence and improved quality of life.

Adaptive Home Kitchen Wheelchair AskSAMIE

It's important to note that visitability is distinct from accessibility, which refers to making sure that all areas of a building meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While visitability looks at making an environment easier to navigate for everyone, ADA compliance takes this one step further by guaranteeing that all areas aren't just easier to access but also provide necessary accommodations such as wheelchair-accessible bathrooms or elevators.

It enables greater inclusion by allowing people with varying levels of ability the equal opportunity to enjoy a space. It removes obstacles that can prevent any of us from fully engaging in everyday activities such as going shopping or visiting friends’ homes. By creating environments where everyone can participate, we guarantee fairer outcomes across society.

 

The benefits of visitability

The advantages of visitability are numerous and far-reaching. Not only does it allow those with physical limitations to participate more in society and their community, but it can also reduce social isolation and improve interpersonal bonds because the environment isn't getting in the way.

Let's use an example to demonstrate what often happens now and what could happen if visitability is considered.

What happens now: You're 30 and buying a house for your family with 2 small kids. You love the colors and the curb appeal as it sits up on a hill. Plus, it has plenty of space to host guests. You buy it and are excited to invite the whole family over for the holidays. But grandma doesn't come because you've got 7 steps to get into the house and your dad leaves early because he's worried about being able to get up from the low toilet in the guest bathroom.

With visitability in mind: You're 30 and looking for a house for your family. You pass up that house with only steps to enter but still find a house with a similar curb appeal. In addition to the steps in the front, it has an entrance through a garage at the top of the hill so there are no steps. And inside there's a bathroom and bedroom on the first floor plus some open spaces so there are no small doorways between the kitchen and dining rooms.

See the difference? Being thoughtful about it didn't have to result in more money spent or remodeling required. It was more about being mindful of it in advance when the decision was being made.

Making your home visitable

Now you may not be in the market for a move, so making your current home visitable is an important step in creating a safe and accessible space for all. Universal design principles are key when it comes to making a home visitable, as they are designed to be used by people of all abilities. Universal design features include wider doorways, lower light switches, ramps, and grab bars, adjustable countertops, lever doorknobs, non-slip flooring, and more. Barrier-free designs also help make visitation easier for those with physical limitations.

Stair Lift AskSAMIE

Adaptive equipment can also be used to make households more visitable. This equipment often requires minimal installation and can make visiting much easier for those with limited mobility. There are many types of adaptive equipment available on the market today, including stair lifts, metal wheel chair ramps, shower seats, bathroom grab bars, and elevated toilet seats.

 

Finally, AskSAMIE's On Demand Assessment and virtual visits provide invaluable assistance in planning to have a visitable home. With these services, you can get advice from certified professionals who specialize in accessibility needs tailored to your individual situation. We assess the safety of the existing layout of your home as well as suggest modifications that'll guarantee greater accessibility both now and in the future.

Additional resources and support

Making a home visitable can seem like a daunting task, but there are plenty of resources available to help. Grants and funding opportunities may be available to cover the cost of renovations, depending on your location and income. To find out what's available in your area, create a free user account and access our funding finder here.

AskSAMIE offers an On Demand Assessment that's free and provides assistance with creating a visitable home. It's self-guided so you can do it any time and just deal with a couple of things at a time. We also offer a virtual visit to assess the safety of the existing layout of a home as well as suggest modifications. This gives you the opportunity to connect with an occupational therapist so you get specific guidance on your unique needs.

Assessment Guide AskSAMIE

In addition, there are many helpful online resources for making homes more visitable. AARP has produced an extensive guide on visitability standards, which is designed to provide homeowners with details on creating a visitable space in their home. Find a summary of that 117-page report here!

Ultimately, making your home more visitable is an important step towards creating an inclusive society where everyone can access what they need or want without fear or judgment. With the right resources and support, you can make sure that your home is safe and accessible for all who enter it.

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Dr. Brandy Archie, OTR/L, CLIPP

Dr. Archie received her doctorate in occupational therapy from Creighton University. She is certified in both Living in Place and Low Vision Therapy.  Dr. Archie has over 15 years of experience in home health and elder focused practice settings which led her to start AskSAMIE, a curated marketplace to make aging in place possible for anyone, anywhere! Answer some questions about the problems the person is having and then a personalized cart of adaptive equipment and resources is provided.

She's a wife, mother of 3 and a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan! Connect with her on Linked In or by email anytime.

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