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‘Visitability’ important to residents with disabilities
by Angela Spencer
October 17, 2012 08:52 AM | 2701 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Steps to an entryway and bathroom doors that swing in and not out may seem normal for some, but CEO of Para/Quad Services J.D. Frazier said home designs that include these and other features limits the “visitability” of a house for someone with disabilities.

“What visitability is, is a one-step entrance on an accessible route at the back, side or front of a home or through a garage,” he said to a group gathered for the Milton Disability Awareness Committee’s Community Link series.

Frazier, who has been a quadriplegic since an accident when he was in his 20s, said visitability also includes having a bathroom on the main floor, halls wide enough for a wheelchair to get through and other access features throughout the home.

Realtor Michelle Miralles has helped Frazier in a journey to find accessible housing and to change the way builders, lawmakers and investors think about housing for the disabled.

Miralles said she was used to volunteering but her direct involvement started when she had a neighbor who was in a wheelchair who came to Miralles to find a

new house.

“She wanted it to be normal; she didn’t want it to be identified by any kind of ramp in front of the house,” she said.

Miralles said she became frustrated when she had a hard time finding a house for her neighbor and had no resources to help her.

Since they have teamed up, Miralles and Frazier are trying to educate builders and lawmakers about how important accessibility and visitability are when building new houses.

“It’s really very affordable if you do it on the front end,” Frazier said of building a house with good visitability.

He also said there needs to be a mindset change to remove the stigma that wheelchair-accessible houses are less sellable.

“Trust me, if you do it right and if you build it right in the first place it’s going to be more desirable,” he said.

Miralles said it’s all about the marketing and the houses will sell when the benefits are relatable to all people.

“Let’s take away all handicap, all disability labels and let’s just say, ‘We built this house with wide doorways. Look at how nice and accessible this is to get your furniture in the house,’” she said. “Anyone who is looking for a home because they need the wide doorways will recognize it because they know what they’re looking for.”


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