Should new private homes have to be accessible to disabled visitors regardless of whether the owners themselves are disabled? That was the question roiling Austin, Texas, city council meetings in June, after councilwoman Betty Dunkerley proposed adding sweeping “visitability” requirements to the city's code for new houses. Austin already requires that city-sponsored housing include such accessibility features as entry ramps, 32-inch interior doors, and lever hardware. Dunkerley's proposal made those elemends a permit requirement for any new house.
Opposition. Builders objected that the idea was too broad and would burden private homeowners who might never have a disabled visitor — while doing nothing for disabled persons actually living in existing spaces without accessible details. And although Dunkerley had cited a $300 construction cost figure, builders told a different tale: Greater...
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