Terms such as Universal Design, Barrier Free, Accessible Design and Inclusive Design, are complementary and sometimes over-lapping notions referring to buildings, products, services, technologies and environments that are accessible, usable and effective for everyone, not just people with particular impairment or needs. In an aging and increasingly urban, society, it is encouraging to see these issues and efforts to improve accessibility and inclusiveness for everyone are now a regular part of public discourse, including the discourse on Age Friendly Cities. The idea is to find solution that everyone can adopt and use (Think easy grip utensils). In Canada, the concept has been introduced through building codes and human rights legislation. CARP has been a strong proponent of Age-Friendly Cities, we’ve designed an age-friendly cities pledge that supporters of the idea can use during municipal election time, CARP also supports the Centre for Inclusive Media’s research projects for Inclusiveness and Accessibility including:
– Captioning and description to assist in hearing and vision;
– Mobile executive assistance to retrieve and organize information and;
– Alternative means to controlling objects that don’t require superior dexterity.
Learn More About CARP’s Age-Friendly Cities Work by:
With the WHO guide on age-friendly communities, a large part depends on building and home designs. Currently, no unified building code standard used by provinces or municipalities addresses these issues.
SAFERhome Standards Society has developed a simple 19-point certifiable building standard effectively addressing, in particular the challenges of the built-environment and aging-in-place.
The program is a commonsense clarification of the existing National and Provincial building codes. It is a simple and affordable 19-point design overlay for any new residential or commercial building plan. It can be used by any municipality or even integrated into their own building codes without changes to the existing system, fulfilling the need for age-friendly homes and buildings. CARP challenges municipalities to check their Universal Design policies against this checklist and implement all the items on this list.
This standard solves issues like; seniors’ aging-in-place, senior’s safety in the home, child safety in the home, enabling lifestyle options for independence through technologies and delivering substantial environmental control options and energy savings. And it makes the home intuitive to the needs of the occupants eliminating the need for most renovations.
For example, in BC over 400 homes have been certified by SAFERhome already. These standards are supported by the City of Vancouver and other municipalities. Anyone can integrate this standard into their home today. It is very easy to change building design, it is difficult to change building culture. The building code is a minimum standard – it needs to be raised to a universal, age-friendly standard!
Additional benefits to the communities are less labeling, less segregation, reduced health costs, a more inclusive and age-friendly community!