Removing barriers indoors is not sufficient to make housing accessible for people with disabilities - half of the most important barriers are located at entrances and outdoors. In collaboration with colleagues at Heidelberg University, Germany, researchers at the Centre for Ageing and Supportive Environments (CASE), Lund University, Sweden, now present a unique, research-based list of the most important environmental barriers causing accessibility problems in housing.
The list can be used for screening of housing environments, aiming at improved accessibility for people with functional limitations. The list is based on the comprehensive Housing Enabler instrument and comprises 61 different barriers; half of them concern indoor environments and half entrances or outdoor environments. The list is unique in the sense that it was generated based on expert panels and statistically simulated combinations of actual personal functional limitations and environmental barriers in housing and immediate outdoor environments among more than 2,000 persons in three European countries. Several environmental barriers often regarded as problematic based on acquired experience fell into the list, e.g. high thresholds, narrow doors and heavy doors without automatic opening. Other barriers are less known, e.g. very high/low and/or irregular heights of stair threads, and apparatus/controls requiring complex maneuvers and good precision.
In particular, given the rapid increase of older people in the population, this list should be attractive for municipal authorities responsible for housing provision, as well as for architects, building companies and private estate owners. The reduced version of the Housing Enabler is a time efficient and powerful screening tool for housing accessibility problem identification.