Building accessibility into design
Health & Wellbeing
Accessibility is something we all take for granted. That said, at some stage throughout our lives most of us will no doubt need to deal with a spell of limited mobility — often through a sports injury or something similar. If we are suddenly faced with a situation like this we will no doubt become very aware of just how hard it can be to manage to get around. Despite the fact that the New Zealand Standards document clearly states — as an example — that there should be accessible routes provided that can be used even by people with limited mobility from “point of arrival” to the location they are planning to visit, ease of movement will still be a challenge. Mobility parking spaces should always be located “as close as is practicable” to the accessible entrance. For anyone who is wheelchair bound, the problems will be even greater. Ramps can be used to replace stairs, but the maximum slope should be 1 in 12, which means every 12-inch rise would require a 12ft ramp! (The document is still using feet and inches!) All this has implications when thinking about planning to build a new home. We can’t see into the future, but should we be thinking about accessibility when planning to build or remodel our own homes? If you hope that your home will be your “home for life” then maybe it would be a good idea to plan for all eventualities — put the “do it once, do it right” concept to the fore. Looking at the World Health Organisation’s Checklist of Essential Features of Age Friendly Cities and Communities, the aspects already mentioned fit into the category of being age friendly, and the categories where most would fit occur in the Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Transportation, and Housing sections. All this becomes even more important now that Ka¯ piti Coast District Council has reference to Ka¯ piti becoming age friendly in part one of the current long-term plan. The Ka¯ piti Coast Older Persons’ Council meets on the last Wednesday of each month in council chambers starting at 1pm. We’d love to have you join us. You do not need to be a representative of a group or even over 65 — you just need to be interested in the sort of things that more particularly affect or interest older persons — especially if you think age friendly matters.