Visitability of a wheelchair accessible home


Visitability refers to how easy it is for someone who uses a wheelchair, scooter, or other mobility device to visit you in your home.   They would need to be able to enter the home so any steps would pose an obvious problem.  The hallways would have to be wide enough for a wheelchair.  The visitor would also need to be able to use the bathroom on occasion so if it was not wheelchair accessible that too would be a problem.  Visitability is somewhat of a roundabout way of asking yourself the question: If for some reason you had to utilize a wheelchair, could you live in your current house, visit the homes of your family members, or even go over to you friend’s house?  The answer unfortunately in most cases would be no.  Very few homes are visitable.   

The Visitability Movement was started in Atlanta, Georgia by a group called Concrete Change.  Although they share many of the same beliefs as the Universal Design Movement, it is not the same.  The Visitability Movement is focused specifically on addressing the lack of a zero-step entrance, narrow interior doors, and lack of access to a bathroom in all homes.  By focusing only on the most critical design barriers to wheelchair accessibility, widespread change in the construction industry is hopeful to occur.

 There are some important aspects to the Visitability Movement:

  1. The focus is on HOMES.  Buildings, restaurants, stores are covered by ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

  2. The focus is on making ALL HOMES visitable – not just public houses and especially not just those with disabled occupants.  The idea is that the person should be able to visit the homes of their friends, family, and neighbors.  It is not about just their home.    

  3. The focus is on NEW homes.  ALL NEW HOMES must be made visitable.  Other organizations handle remodeling existing homes for people in wheelchairs.


Other concepts are important to the Visitability Movement:

  1. That the cost for making all new homes visitable is small.  The costs to retrofit accessibility features to an existing home are by comparison many times larger. 

  2. That a society that embraces all of its members regardless of their physical differences, will require all homes to be constructed visitable. 

  3. That by focusing solely on new homes, the visitable movement is a slow, steady, long term solution.  The results of any success in the Visitiability Movement will only be measurable 20-30 years down the road, when hopefully it will be harder to find a non visitable home than a visitable one.   






Visitability standards for a wheelchair accessible home

A house is considered visitable when it meets the following three criteria:

  1. At least one no step entrance to the home.  This entrance can be located in the front, back or side of the home. 
  2. Doors and hallways on the wheelchair accessible floor level have to be wide enough (at least 32" wide) for maneuverability in a wheelchair.
  3. A wheelchair accessible bathroom on the same floor level.  The bathroom should be at least a half bath but preferably a full bath. 



Copyright © 2009-11 Terms of Use

BlueRobot for CSS formats used in creating this website.