United Kingdom Becomes First Nation To Mandate Basic

Thomas Cagle (nh-adapt@juno.com)
Wed, 10 Jun 1998 06:30:20 -0400

The United Kingdom Becomes First Nation In The World
 To Mandate Basic Disability Access In Every New Home. 

In March ‘98 Parliament passed legislation requiring that every new home
must have an entrance without steps, a downstairs bathroom, sufficiently
wide halls,  all doorways passable by wheelchairs, and other elements of
universal design.  

According to The Loundon Times : 
"What builders must ensure - in the  jargon of the industry - is
visitability  housing’ " (Dec. 5, 1997)

The Home Builders’ Federation, a major trade group in the UK,  had raised
the objection that excessive cost  would drive first-time home buyer’s
out of
the market.

However, Parliament was persuaded by the counter-arguments of advocates
from the Joseph Rountree Foundation, who had already built more than 400
these houses and in a two-year study found costs to be low and benefits

After the positive vote, UK Construction Minister Nick Raynsford stated,
“There will be direct benefits of increased convenience, accessibility
sociability for disabled people.  The measures will also help
those people who are temporarily disabled through accident or injury, the
elderly and those with young children in prams and pushcarts.” 

An approximately one-year period will be allowed for builders to learn
proper construction methods, and the requirements will take effect in

Zan Thornton, a  proponent of universal basic access, or “visitability,”
the United States, and a member of the housing activist group Concrete
Change, commented:

	“The ripples will spread worldwide.  More and more people are
going to see
through the phony arguments raised by the NAHB (National Association of
Home Builders) here in the States.”   

For more information on the UK legislation, contact Concrete Change at
their website    http://concretechange.home.mindspring.com.

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