Dec. 18, 2001 --
In response to our 12/4/2001 E-Letter, subscriber Carol Boyer of the RESNA Technical Assistance Project writes to tell us about more visitability projects:
"In 1999, the Vermont Assistive Technology Project (VATP) initiated a 'rental unit study bill' (S. 174) with the Vermont legislature to mandate minimal accessibility standards in all new 1-, 2-, and 3-family housing units built on speculation in the state. Known as the "Visitability" standard bill, VATP negotiated with their legislature to add language to the rental study that would include aspects of disability access. A 1999 task force was established to work on this study. The task force consisted of representatives from the Department of Labor and Industry, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the Council of Vermont Elders, the Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights, the Vermont Center for Independent Living, the Disability Law Project, the Vermont Contractors Association, and low-income housing advocates.
"The agreements reached by this task force resulted in the passage of H. 612 on April 27, 2000. H. 612 mandates accessibility requirements for all new residential housing (including townhouses, condominiums, etc.) constructed in Vermont. Besides basic visitability features, the law directs VATP to work with the Department of Labor and Industry, Department of Housing and Community Affairs, and representatives from the homebuilding industry to create educational materials that explain the new construction standards and the advantages of "visitable" homes. VATP will be the lead agency in the production and dissemination of the educational materials. A Visitability brochure will be coming out soon from VATP." (Visit the VATP website at http://www.dad.state.vt.us/atp/).
"Philadelphia is in the midst of getting legislation for a Visitability Ordinance for all new construction with public funds," says Boyer. The bill "should be introduced in January after it gets tweaked. This comes after many months of visiting the city council, talking about visitability and giving them materials such as brochures and the video that Eleanor Smith made. (Eleanor Smith is the president and founder of Concrete Change and the most persistent advocator of visitability. See: http://concretechange.home.mindspring.com)
"Several of the Assistive Technology (AT) Act Projects have been very active in pursuing visitability in their states," Boyer adds. To read more about their housing initiatives, which include tax credits and other activities to help individuals with disabilities stay in their homes, see http://www.resna.org/taproject/policy/community/HMRG.htm#target1b
Boyer invites anyone who would like more information on visitability to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org