Accessible Properties’ Housing Development team has had a small taste of what it’s like to cope with physical limitations.
Housing Development Manager Nigel Smith, Project Manager Dave Orrell and Project Administrator Isabelle Janus recently spent time in an Age Lab at LifeMark in Auckland.
The housing design organisation’s Age Labs help people to understand the challenges people face when they age or have mobility issues. Lifemark is a division of CCS Disability Action, which delivers a set of star-rated residential design standards for accessibility.
Nigel, Dave and Isabelle tried on simulation glasses that mimic age-related visual impairments, such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, and found how hard it was to find and use light switches, and to pick up and dial a phone.
Nigel wore an age-simulation weight vest that made it difficult for him to move around, bend and use stairs. Isabelle used a wheelchair to navigate her way around the building. Dave, who already had his arm in a cast, put on equipment that restricted him to using only one side of his body to simulate the effect of a stroke.
“This was a challenging, eye-opening experience, where we were able to experience first-hand the struggles of day-to-day living with a disability,” Isabelle says.
APNZL Chief Executive Greg Orchard says the company has signed a partnership agreement with Lifemark with intention of obtaining certification for 60–80 homes a year in Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton. We also have Lifemark-certified properties in Wellington and Christchurch and across the country.
“Accessible Properties has always been Lifemark-focused and we believe in improving the accessibility of New Zealand’s housing stock. We see partnering with Lifemark as one way of raising awareness and achieving this,” Greg says.
“We’re keen to have Lifemark‘s independent accreditation for our portfolio of purpose-built, accessible homes throughout the country to provide us with feedback on the levels of accessibility we are achieving and where we can improve. We have just received certification for some of our first Tauranga new-builds.”