NEWMARKET, ON, Nov. 1, 2017 /CNW/ - From walk-in closets to stainless steel appliances, fireplaces and custom cabinets, the list of desirable features in a house are endless. But, what about the qualities that make a home more than 'cozy', 'modern', or a 'sprawling' place? The elements that make a space 'user-friendly' and 'inclusive' to all.
More and more people are prioritizing accessibility when looking for a place to call home. Further, as the population ages, barrier-free recreation centres, nursing homes, and other public facilities are a necessity.
Census 2016 revealed that for the first time, seniors are a larger percent of Canada's population than children. This trend will only continue, as Statistics Canada predicts that nearly one in four Canadians will be over 65 by 2031.
With this in mind, many ask, what does it mean to have an accessible home?
DeafBlind Ontario Services, an Ontario-based not-for-profit organization, aims to raise awareness about large and small-scale projects to improve the accessibility of a space in their Accessibility Guidelines for Sensory Loss.
DeafBlind Ontario Services believes that with a helping hand and supportive touch, individuals who are both deaf and blind can increase their independence on their own terms. Founded in 1989, DeafBlind Ontario Services provides residential and community services programs to individuals who are deafblind, empowering them to gain independence and contribute to the greater community.
TheAccessibility Guidelines for Sensory Loss, now in its second edition, was developed by DeafBlind Ontario Services with the accessibility needs of individuals who are deafblind in mind, and can benefit anyone with sensory loss.
"The purpose of this free tool is to share guidelines and provide helpful tips that focus on establishing inclusive environments for individuals with varying sensory loss. Inclusion of accessibility features and design emphasizes efficient environments, space maneuverability, the importance of illumination, and the use of colour, texture, as well as specialized materials to name a few", says Kelly Patterson, DeafBlind Ontario Services' Manager of Client Services and Specialized Training.
When looking at a kitchen, for example, there are a number of factors that can improve the accessibility for all, ensuring that the space is comfortable as well as safe for everyone. Some of these factors include: efficient design, maneuvering space for mobility devices, minimal effort of use, ease of cleaning, illumination, and safety.
When designing kitchens, colour schemes need to be taken into consideration from the onset. Well thought out colour schemes in kitchens will assist with defining the features and enhancing the ability of those with low vision to understand and discern the features in kitchen environments.
Light-coloured flooring schemes (cream, white, or light grey) with defined perimeters of colour contrasting material (such as baseboard minimum of 100mm wide when combined with light-coloured walls) can better assist individuals with vision loss and/or cognitive disabilities.
One simple home improvement in the kitchen can include changing cabinet handles. These should be selected in a contrasting colour to the cabinetry and a "D" handle style is preferred, as knobs that require twisting and turning of the wrist can be difficult for individuals with limited dexterity.
The Accessibility Guidelines for Sensory Loss, free for download on DeafBlind Ontario Services' website, features comprehensive Accessible Design Guidelines, Quick Design Tips, and a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Accessibility Enhancements section to provide readers with all of the information necessary to improve the accessibility of a specific space.
"Together, we can proactively breakdown barriers to make an environment safer, accessible, and inclusive to everyone in it", says Patterson.
Founded in 1989, DeafBlind Ontario Services is a not-for-profit organization that helps individuals who are deafblind increase their independence and improve their quality of life through specialized services. With residential locations and community services programs across the province, their services extend into a wide range of communities in Ontario.
DeafBlind Ontario Services provides an array of services to people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, non-verbal and deafblind that are customized to each individual’s unique needs, method of communication, and goals to enrich their life. As a leader in the field, our reach...