Monday, September 17, 2012

A Drive Through The Country

Today we drove to Our Nation's Capital and decided to pop up Peterborough way and drive Highway 7, through the country, to Ottawa. We both had the 401 and consider it to be one of the world's most boring drives, The Big Apple excepted of course. So, as we had a bit extra time and a bit less pressure, we decided on the country route. As it happened the day was spectacular. We had bright blue skies, brilliant sunshine and there was a hint of colour coming in the trees. Lovely.

The thing that I noticed this time, maybe four or five times on the drive, was the number of houses that had had ramps built on them. One, in particular, was very long and had a gentle slope. It, unlike many, rose from the driveway to the front door and rose maybe three feet. I felt like I could have easily pushed myself up the slope. I wondered, to myself as Joe was basking in the fact that the car had satellite radio and he was streaming classical music into the car, flipping through the classical stations with the ease of a practised hand, what the story was behind each of the ramps.

While I don't know the story of the individuals who live in those houses. I do know the 'back story.' The story of builders who think that people don't change, young couples, don't become parents, don't age, don't have accidents or hospitalisations. Builders who build for people who buy the houses but not the people who live in the houses. People who will never have a child with a disability, people who will never have elderly parents who want, but can't have, the ability to visit, people who will never have friends who use wheelchairs, or walkers, or scooters. Builders who build houses that will one day purposely exclude someone - but who cares ... homes are for real people and there are homes for other people.

As the music swirled around me, the image of that long, long, ramp up to the front door stayed with me. I kind of wanted to meet the person who insisted on entering the front door of the house they lived in. I'd like to know if they sat and watched the builders build what should have been built in the first place - access. I wondered if they insisted on the gentle rise. I wondered if they fought off someone talking about property value when they suggested a long ramp up to the front door. I wondered who they were.

All I know is that they go in the front door of a house that I could visit.

And that's enough reason to get off the freeway and drive through the country.


Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Accessible homes and buildings could be the usual thing. It really would not be that difficult.

The college where I work built some residences a couple of years ago - not accessible, not one. How they got away with it I do not know - questioning is not allowed. They could have built them all accessible - really how hard would that have been? But they chose exclusion by design.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand how accessibility is not just part of design. The old "form over function" argument is a thing of the past. With the helps (computers) and materials available, there really is no excuse.

If the architects, engineers and designers got it together - all homes would be designed and built to accomodate all and the aging. Everyone ages!

Imagine - and world where ramps - which are easier for everyone - were commonplace. And safety items, like bars in bathrooms, were considered a mark of a well appointed house. Door ways are wider, lightswitches reachable, counters at various heights. The possibilities are endless.

When you really think of it - the style that is popular is really only created for a small percentage of the population. Able bodied folks in the prime of their lives. The homes are not safe for children or seniors - and not accomodating for anyone with special needs.

No wonder the lovely long graceful ramp made such an impression on you! Sigh...