Is Your Home Visitable? - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Is Your Home Visitable?

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When we visit someone's home, the thought of if it's accessible usually does not cross our minds.

But for those with disabilities, it becomes an issue that hits very close to home.

Stephanie Scheurer tells us about a policy campaign that strives to make all homes ready for everybody.

For Tom, home is where the heart is...

and he wants family and friends to feel at home when they visit.

Aside from the beauty of his house, it's special because it truly is visitable.

"A lot of people they'll put in like 30 inch doorways into the rooms and things like that. We made sure the builder put in 32 inch doorways," says Tom Schiwal.

Visitability is a building concept for new construction of homes that includes three basic features - a zero step entrance, at least 32 inches of clear passage space through doorways, and a usable bathroom.

"I think it's essential because I designed this house with the thought that I will hopefully get older and as you get older though the chances are I'm going to end up with a bad hip, bad knee, my back is already causing problems so for my own sake it's important," says Tom Schiwal, Built a Visitable Home.

"When I'm in my 70s I still want to be living in my house," says Schiwal.

It's also important for his parents.

"I don't think people really notice because the changes are subtle and, you know, I think my parents have appreciated the fact they don't have to climb stairs to get to the spare bedroom," says Schiwal.

More than half of houses built today will have a resident with a severe mobility impairment during the lifetime of the house and more than 90 percent of these houses will have a visitor with a severe mobility impairment.

"I have one friend in town who's house I can get into, where they have the bathroom I can use so I can actually go there, go for supper, cookouts and not have to, after a couple hours, leave to go somewhere else to find a bathroom to use," says Royce Schultze, Exec. Director, Dakota Center for Independent Living.

Royce says it leads to a lot of social isolation for people with disabilities because they can't go to many peoples homes.

"For someone who does need that, it can be a Godsend," says Schiwal.

"As you get older, you're going to need some of these features and you probably have friends or family that could use those right now to come visit you," says Schultze.

And he says it's inexpensive to do...

Something anyone can consider when building a home for the future...

Schultze says in Atlanta in 1992 an ordinance was passed where all homes needed to be accessible....

Since then there have been several states and cities that have passed similar laws.

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