Erin Davis: Welcome to REAL TIME, the podcast for and about REALTORS® brought to you by the Canadian Real Estate Association. I’m Erin Davis and I think you’re really going to get a lot out of this episode of REAL TIME. According to StatsCan, nearly one in four Canadians aged 15 years and over or about 6.2 million individuals, has one or more physical disabilities. When we listen to our guest today, we can see that those numbers are only going to grow as we all continue to age.
While we can’t stop time, we can adjust to how we approach our futures at home. Universal design, or UD is an approach to creating spaces that are inclusive and equitable for those living with permanent or temporary physical disability. What are some of the misconceptions about universal design and how is the industry evolving and adapting to growing demand, especially from an aging population that wants to age at home?
In episode 20 of REAL TIME, we take a closer look at UD trends and opportunities. Joining us is Brad McCannell. Brad is vice-president of Access and Inclusion with the Rick Hansen Foundation, Brad, welcome. I think that first off, we should talk about what you have called the superpower of universal design. That is that it’s invisible.
Brad McCannell: It’s funny. I get asked all the time, can you send me a photograph of a really good universal design? The answer is no, if you do it right, it’s invisible.
Erin: Excellent. Well, now that we can’t see it, why don’t you tell us what it is? What is universal design and what’s its purpose, Brad?
Brad: There’s seven principles of universal design. In a nutshell, what it’s designed to do is be the most good for the most people. It’s designed to allow people to interact with their built environment easily. It’s designed to let them have flexibility in use, for example. It’s simple. It’s intuitive.
There’s a great quote. I feel bad because I can’t credit the person, but the quote was “To err is human, to forgive is designed”. That’s what you do as a designer, you make whatever you’re working with interface with the human and the human now doesn’t have to do anything. The better the design, the more invisible design, the easier it is to interact with things then the better off everyone is.
Erin: Well, how then is UD, universal design different from, say, accessible design?
Brad: Now, we’re into the weeds. Universal design: it refers to making the most good for the most people. Accessible design used to be called barrier-free design. Sometimes you see universal design and barrier-free design used interchangeably. The reality is accessible design is a specific solution for a specific application for a specific user. By way of example, universal design says everything should be the same, so it works for everyone.
You can’t do that in a parking lot, every space would have to be oversized. You can’t do that in a washroom. All the stalls would have to be enormous so that washrooms themselves would be enormous. On those applications, that’s what accessible design is. It came on into the post-war actually, when people were coming back from the war with mobility impairments, and you wanted to get Uncle Frank into the local church, well, you just built a ramp on the back door. Now, the ramp was usually about 45-degrees, but the point was to get into the church, and you’d sit in the back and you’d be fine. It was like, okay, that’s done.
But barrier-free design doesn’t accommodate the needs of the most of the people that only accommodates that specific need. When the church case you’d have to be pushed up the ramp, you couldn’t be independent and washrooms and parking lots. It’s just not practical to apply universal design in every spot. At the same time, universal principles still apply even though you’re only doing 10% or 20% of the parking lot at oversized spaces.
Erin: Well, universal design, you have said, because I’m quoting you from a great piece you wrote for rickhansen.com in 2018, liberating. It doesn’t rely on standard design parameters aimed at healthy males, aged 18 to 55. You point out, when a place works for everyone, say a park with even surfacing on trails, which we saw up in Parksville, British Columbia just last month and around accessible playground equipment. Suddenly, more people show up. Grandma shows up, more kids with range of abilities show up because they can.
Brad: Isn’t that interesting? Isn’t that the very nature of inclusion? People forget that inclusion is a result. It’s not a discipline. Inclusion is the result of accessibility and accessibility breeds accessibility. The more access you create, the more access you’re going to need because it brings people out. Like in the early 70s, curb ramps started happening, but they were designed for high-functioning paraplegics. But who did it benefit? Well, it benefited the whole community. It benefited people pushing baby carriages and people pushing dollies. Then what happened as medical science moved on, quadriplegics like me, suddenly we were out on the streets and now the curb ramp benefited us as well.
To benefit us, it had to be a little better, it had to be a little less steep. It brought out people with vision loss but to accommodate people with vision loss, what we to do was make sure there was high contrast markings on the curb ramp, tactile markings on the curb ramp so they’d be aware they walked into traffic. The more access you create, the more access you’re going to need. That’s a really good thing because that means you’re getting inclusion in the community. That means you’re keeping people active and involved.
Erin: One of the myths that you’ve spoken about is that disability happens to other people. Universal design doesn’t reflect my needs but that really is shortsighted. Isn’t it? I think it’s a little Pollyanna-ish to think, well, nothing’s ever going to happen to me. When we look at the statistics and, of course, the ever-aging demographic, chances are if you design with universal design in mind, then you are actually paving the way you’re building that less steep ramp that Uncle Frank had to your own future, your own access and ability.
Brad: Well, this goes to one of the core messages this idea that all this access stuff and all these laws and regulations are pointed at a few people with mobility impairments a few wheelchair users. It just couldn’t be further from the truth. You’re doing a face plant and you’re skiing as a teenager, and you end up in a wheelchair or you’re 85 and you need a walker. You’re going to have a disability. In our community, we call able-bodied people TABs.
Erin: What’s that stand for?
Brad: You’re Temporarily Able-Bodied. It’s only a matter of time before you’re going to require some assistance in some form. Frankly, it’s the older adults and seniors that are really driving the numbers right now and the numbers are going through the ceiling. A 1000 people turn 65 every day in Canada; 240,000 people retire every year in Canada. This is a really unique group from a disability perspective because there’s two characteristics of them. Number one, they’re in complete denial “My eyes are fine; My arms aren’t long enough.” “I can hear fine if you’d stop mumbling.” So, there’s this real denial.
And the second thing is they don’t have a disability, they have multiple disabilities. They’ll have mobility loss combined with hearing loss. They’ll have vision loss combined with cognitive issues. They’ll have every combination under the sun and that’s that labeled disabled component we talk about all the time. Often, you’ll see a power door operator and will have that little blue guy on it, a little blue stick man. It’s just vexing to our community because what happens when you push that button, there’s a little blue genie in a wheelchair suddenly appears and grants you five wishes. When you push that button, the door opens, why doesn’t it say, “Open door?” Why do I have to be labeled disabled? That power operator helps so many people, people carrying boxes, people in a hurry, people pushing a wheelchair, people pushing it, period. It opens the door. That’s part of the universal design concept.
Stop labeling people. Stop using disabled language to describe built environment. If you do it right, you don’t have to use that language. If you stop that, then you stopped the labeling. Then you’re stopping segregation. That’s what it really is right now.
You go to a bank and there’s a lowered teller at the far end and that’s where I’m supposed to go. I go there and I sit, and I’m ignored or not seen or whatever. You couldn’t do that with any other group. Could you say all the blondes have to grab the corner at the end? If you say that any anybody of colour has to go sit over there. It’s really vexing to be labeled disabled constantly.
It starts touching on the idea of us being non-market housing and setting aside 10% of some development for people with disabilities, whatever that means. Segregation, it’s one of our biggest problems. Actually, it’s the attitudinal barrier.
Erin: Well, let me go back to the bank for a second. Ideally, Brad, what would you like to see there?
Brad: Universal counters, if all the counters were the same and all the counters were universal and provided knee space, it’s just no work, this isn’t really tricky design or anything. All you do is you provide knee space on a standard counter for everyone, that works for everyone. If you go to Vancouver International Airport you may notice, you probably won’t notice, that all the counters are at universal height. All the food courts, all the tables, they’re at that universal height and it works for everyone, whereas having a high counter for tellers and one lowered at the other end, you can’t help but segregate.
Erin: You’ve just brought something up that I think we’re all going to notice from here on end.
Brad: I hope so.
Erin: When we return, Brad McCannell from the Rick Hansen Foundation tells us how he’s going about changing the way we think about design and the role of advocates in helping us to do so.
We hope you’re enjoying this 20th episode of REAL TIME. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts for monthly episodes with someone else who knows design: TV icon, Sarah Richardson, as well as award-winning author, Jessie Thistle, broadcast and marketing legend, Terry O’Reilly and political journalist, Chantal Hébert, just to name a few. Visit CREA.ca/podcast for more details.
Brad, you’re responsible for the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification Program and Support Training, what is this trademark, the Accessibility Certification?
Brad: Well, first I’ll say it’s an industry program, it’s not a consumer program. It’s a process that we undertook to change design culture to help the people in the industry to understand the return on the investment, it’s there that’s been just left on the street. Ours is a program that identifies what’s actually there. We’re not the code police, we don’t come in and tell people, “Well, you did this wrong, you did that wrong.”
We identify what’s really there and who it affects, who’s it a barrier to, and so that as an owner or an operator you can take our report, look at your site and use it as a planning tool moving forward so that it becomes part of the normal design process instead of stopping at it after the fact, something you need special funding for. What we’re trying to do is normalize the delivery of accessible services and we’re trying to professionalize the delivery of it.
Right now, we’ve been relying pretty heavily on the advocates to tell people what’s accessible, what’s not and then find the solutions for that, and that’s just not appropriate. Advocates are critical, without advocates nothing happens. Their job is to identify the barriers, but their job can’t be to resolve the barriers, they don’t have the experience of the built environment, they’re not architects, they’re not planners, they’re not engineers.
What we had to do is shift that industry, we had to shift the culture in that industry to see the built environment differently and we’ve had great success with that so far.
Erin: Who is it that should pursue accessibility certification then Brad?
Brad: Accessibility certifications should be pursued by anyone who wants their site to be accessible, anyone who wants to understand where their site is right now. Our program identifies what’s actually there, and it becomes a perfect planning tool. It breaks any site down into eight different categories so the operator can look at it in one glance, see where they’re weak, where they’re strong, and use it as a planning tool.
The idea is to use the RHFAC, Accessibility Certification Program, as a starting point, not as an end. Too often people think, “Well, I’m going to get this rating, and now I’m an RHFAC Gold or I’m an RHFAC certified site and I’ll just stop there.” No, that’s where you start, that’s the beginning. The value of the program is that you can see now what your site needs and how you’re going to move it forward as part of the normal process, it is part of your normal operating process. The whole goal for us is to move accessibility up the design food chain.
What happens right now is this building gets designed, they get it permitted, they pour concrete and then they phone me and say, “Can we make it accessible?” No, I can’t. I can do what we call bolt-on-access, I can put on a power door, or I can put a hearing loop over a reception desk or I can walk to the mailroom so some of the mail slots are accessible, I can do the little things, but I can’t affect the core design principles of the building, and that’s what you have to do to really meet universal design requirements.
Erin: What kind of demand or interest Brad, is there for universal design in Canada, residentially and commercially?
Brad: Well, it’s just enormous. It’s driven largely by the older adults and seniors. We just did an Angus Reid poll, and it was really interesting because it was the first-time individuals recognized the shortcomings of their own environment. In the past, people always say, “Oh, yes, access is good. Those people need that.” This is the first-time people are, “Wow, wait a minute, we had 56% of our respondents saying that the access was a concern whenever they went out for dinner or lunch or shopping, with a house they buy, a car they buy, everything.” 56% of people would prioritize accessibility.
Right now, in Canada, we report 24% having a significant disability. Every one of those people have at least one other person in their life that also benefits from a barrier-free environment, from an accessible environment. They benefit on two levels. First, they benefit because I benefit so if it’s good for me it’s probably good for them, but they also benefit because a universal space keeps them safer so when they are assisting, when they are helping me, they are in danger of becoming people with disabilities themselves.
Everybody has at least one person in their life, either a lover, mother, brother, sister, paid caregiver, they all have somebody in their lives that also benefits so it’s not 24% of the population, it’s 50% or even higher. Most of us have more than one person.
Brad: This idea that we’re a non-market is so vexing because that’s part of the problem. If we were viewed as part of the market as your listeners today will testify, they’re working with older adults and seniors every day. They may not stand up and put up their hands and say I have a disability because remember they’re in denial, but there’s no question that it benefits them in every way and so it’s absolutely clear that we need to keep people independent in their own homes, in their own communities as long as possible – in reality, forever.
The moment grandma can’t go to the arena and watch her grandson play hockey because she’s afraid of the tripping hazards on the sidewalk or the stairs in the arena or even opening the door to the arena. The moment that happens, a little thread breaks in the community. She’s not part of her grandson’s life anymore, and the more those threads break, the more the whole community starts to break down.
The other big thing here is let’s not forget how universal designs, one of its biggest attributes is it allows for intergenerational family living in a same single home. Grandma can stay with you, and that’s a really important point. We tend to ship our older adults and seniors off, and other cultures don’t. Other cultures revere their elders, and we seem to be content to let that go and we’ve seen the consequences of that now.
Erin: Back with Brad McCannell in just a moment with an eye-opening take on Disability: You and Me. Whether disability is caused by the natural effects of aging or by accident or injury, the simple truth is that each one of us will experience disability at some point in our lives and we’ll need our communities to be accessible so that we can continue to participate and live full lives. The Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification Program works to help improve accessibility of the built environment in Canada, the places where we live, work, learn and play. Find out more about the program and join the movement to help create a fully accessible and inclusive Canada by visiting rickhansen.com/become-accessible.
Now back to Brad McCannell, Vice President of Access and Inclusion with the Rick Hansen Foundation.
Obviously, everything you’re talking about is improving lives for all of us but why do you think, Brad, homeowners who do not have lived experience with disability, why should they consider implementing universal design in their properties?
Brad: Everyone should consider making their homes more accessible, everyone’s going to have a disability and it’s also frighteningly easy to do at least at the design stage. It’s harder on a retrofit, I get that. We are the largest minority group in the world, people with disabilities. We’re the only one that anyone of you can and will join at any moment. You twist an ankle and fall down the stairs, you have a car accident, you have a medical issue, you are going to be a person with a disability. It’s totally inevitable.
I happen to live in what would be considered a resort community about an hour outside of Vancouver. All my neighbours have built these homes as their retirement, they view this as the last home they’re going to have, they’re going to settle in, it’s going to be beautiful for the rest of their lives, and I can’t visit them. I can’t get in the front door. In their house, they’ve got stairs. I know one particular house, this person had been designing for decades and couldn’t wait to retire and she’s been in the home now for three years, and she can’t get upstairs to the bedroom anymore.
Erin: Oh, wow.
Brad: You have to think about this stuff. Whether you like it or not, it’s going to change so if we as a community don’t start adopting universal design principles, if we don’t start building homes that anticipate the needs of the users, if the fix to the house is so enormous so you have to move because you can’t handle the stairs, some people talk about stair glides and things like that, I’m not in favor of them, I think they are very last resort personally. But when you’re designing a home, one of the simple fixes that Safer Home Society advocates and Safer Home Society, by the way, I’d highly recommend. If you want to know about accessible housing at a single-family home level, the saferhomesociety.com is a great resource. One of the things they talk about all the time, especially in new construction, is how you can align closets. The closets on the first floor and the closet on the second floor are over top of each other. When you’re building the house, you make that an elevator shaft. At the time of construction, the cost is really nominal but to put in an elevator after the fact, it’s in the $100,000 range.
Even if you are not going to be the one to get old in it, by creating that universal aspect of the home, you’re increasing the value of the home, because the next buyer may need it. If the house can anticipate the needs of the user, if there’s backing in the walls, that you can let you put a grab bar anywhere you need it. Not just where the code says it goes, if there’s backing in the ceiling, you can put in an overhead lift. One day you may need a lift that picks you out to your bed and takes you to the bathroom.
If that’s all built in, it’s remarkably inexpensive. In fact, it’s one of the things that pays for itself, because right now what happens is they complete a house, there’s a big pile of leftover lumber and they put it in that truck, and they ship it off to the dump. Boom. There goes your LEED rating where you just dump a bunch of stuff in the landfill.
Gather up that wood and pound it into the framing. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it’s all going to be covered anyone. You can now install ceiling lifts or grab bars or whatever you need, and you don’t have to pay to ship it. You don’t have to send it to a landfill. You leave your LEED rating alone.
Erin: That’s brilliant.
Brad: Simple things like this. There’s simple solutions all over the place.
Erin: Now, are there many home builders, contractors and designers in Canada who specialize in universal design. How does a homeowner go about finding them?
Brad: Yes. There are lots in fact, but this is part of the problem. There’s no governing body. There’s no single group that can certify whether they actually know what they’re talking about or not. Again, the RHFAC, the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification Program, we stepped in there and we said that has to change. We accredit people, people taking our course then have the opportunity to take an exam administered by the CSA group, Canadian Standards Association, completely independent of us, and they will test you for your level of knowledge, do you understand universal design. Now we have an accredit person who’s taken a course and been examined by a third party and said, yes, that guy knows what he’s talking about.
Erin: Brad, what steps can a REALTOR® take to advocate for clients who are living with permanent or temporary physical disabilities while they’re in the home buying and selling process? What do you think?
Brad: Well, REALTORS® are key to this whole process. Nobody’s closer than your listeners to the real needs of the community. They must see it every day. I would encourage them to help consumers demand more. It’s completely unacceptable to use what’s called the medical model. The medical model says you have a disability you figure out how to overcome the barriers. The social model says, no, why don’t we build places that are universal? Why don’t we embrace the community more? Why does that person have to be labeled and excluded?
There’s an old joke in our business. You want to know how good a restaurant is, you ask a wheelchair guy because he probably came in through the kitchen. It’s that old idea that any access will do that’s that barrier free design approach. It won’t. I think REALTORS® are in a position to talk to developers about this, to say that the market is there to say that we’re people with disabilities, older adults and seniors are not non-market, that we are market and we need more. If you on your building properly, that becomes a huge asset.
One of the other problems, especially in single family dwellings, for example, if you’re injured at work and Work Safe BC comes into the play, they will typically allow $150,000 worth of renovations to your home because now you’re a wheelchair user and you have be able to live there. You got that $150,000 and the OTs come in, the Occupational Therapists come in and they slap grab bars all over the place and they turn your house into an institution.
While that’s really functional and nobody wants to live in an institution, but the real problem because when you go to sell that house because able bodied person, they come and look at that house and they want to buy it. How much would it cost to get all that wheelchair stuff out? How much to take it back to the house it was instead of the institution it became, well, that’s about $150,000. Now you’ve got a $300,000 swing in real estate value at the time you can least afford it.
The thing about universal design is it’s beautiful. If you’ve done it right, it’s invisible. It has the advantage of making your house look bigger, because the way it opens up space. If you don’t, if you label disabled, if you turn it into an institution it’s going to kill the real estate value. What can REALTORS® do? They can help developers understand that we are not non-market. They help them understand the return on investment that’s available here.
The REALTOR®‘s role here is just absolutely key because they’re the interface between the developer and the real users. When you’re dropping this kind of money on a house or a condo or whatever you’re buying, the cost of making it accessible is so minuscule. We did a big study on a condominium development they did that showed unequivocally it costs less than a $1000 per unit to make it universal, to make it work under the safer home system. To make it work for older adults and seniors to make it work for wheelchair users, less than a $1000 a unit. I’m sorry that’s not even the carrying cost of the money it takes to build one of those things, it’s invisible.
Erin: When we return, how Brad has integrated accessibilities in ways that we’ve all experienced and seen or not seen in the case of that invisibility to which he refers.
Here’s a staggering number for you. Just last year there were 374 million visits to the REALTOR.ca platform and visitors looked at property pages, 1.7 billion, yes, with a B-times. Be sure to make the most of those visitors with the tools provided to you through your CREA membership.
Now let’s return to our chat with Brad McCannell, VP of Access and Inclusion with the Rick Hansen Foundation, making travel and homes friendlier for us all. You talk about the invisibility of it. Tell me what you’ve done in your own situation, Brad, that is functional, that is beautiful. That is something that we can all imagine in our own lives, if we decide to go ahead and do this.
Brad: Well, let me give you two examples. One is a large public building, Vancouver International Airport. I’ve had the great pleasure of working with them now well, since 1992. So, it’s been a 30-year journey. What we’ve been able to do there is change the corporate culture to ask a really simple question before any project is completed: “How will this affect people with disabilities?” That airport is I think, nine years now running, voted the best airport in North America.
Brad: A large part of that evaluation is customer service. We do exit surveys at YVR and a couple years back we focused on older adults and seniors and people with disabilities. We asked them, how’d you find the airport? How was it for you? The answer was, it’s great. Why? Don’t know. That’s the perfect answer. If you don’t know then you weren’t handled differently. You weren’t separated from your family to go to a special counter. You didn’t have to get pushed under some tunnels under the airport, like in Toronto to get to the airplane, making that space work, that’s a true universal space.
Next time you’re there look around you won’t see the little wheelchair guy. He’s not on the counters. He’s not on the washrooms. You might see him in hold rooms. There’s a few seats reserved, but that’s because every works for everyone. We’ve taken the labels off. We made it work for everyone from a public building perspective.
From a housing perspective, I’ve been telling people how to build things for 30 years. I just recently built my little dream house outside of Vancouver and I thought, if I’m going to do this, I better get it right. I spent great deal of time working on universal design principles and applying them to my own home, and I defy anybody to tell that somebody a quadriplegic, especially, but a wheelchair user lives in my house. None of the tell-tale signs are there. There’s no grab bars. I don’t use grab bars.
In most wheelchair homes about inches up on the wall there a black mark that runs around mostly the whole house, but usually around corners. That’s the front caster catching that outside 90-degree corner when you’re going into your kitchen, for example, when you’re going into a bathroom.
Universal design says, no, no, no, don’t do that. Make that a 45-degree angle, cut that off, even by six inches. Suddenly that is no impact point there. When you see a mark on the wall or a piece of drywall that’s been carved, you see a maintenance problem. When I see it, I see a health problem. I see a collision problem. Somebody’s hit that.
Now as a wheelchair user, I’m pretty good. I can ram things and survive pretty well, but when mom is on a cane or a crutch and she catches that wall or her walker hits that wall, then you’re introducing a falling hazard into the home. One of the great things about Universal design is how it makes your home safer. It literally removes falling hazards, tripping hazard and that’s really important. The best example I can give you is in a typical residential setting, in a bathroom we put the sink, the toilet and the tub, all those controls and water lines are on the same wall.
We do that to make it easy for the plumber. I don’t care about the plumber. I care about my mother, and she walks in there and she steps between the toilet and the tub with one foot, and she leans way over to turn on the tub and she’s going to fall. That’s where she’s going to fall. If she falls there and breaks her hip, she has a 20% chance of being dead in a calendar year. She has 50% chance of never getting out of an institution. Why are we doing this for the plumber? I’ve had arguments with architects. We can’t make it any bigger. Real Estate space is just too expensive. We can’t have a bigger bathroom. Pick the tub up, turn it 180 degrees and set it back down in the same space. Now the controls are on the open wall.
If you want to go crazy, let’s just go absolutely insane here for a second, let’s take the controls and move them 6 inches closer to the edge of the tub. Now she’s not even leaning over. Just anecdotally, I think you can reduce falls in the home by 20% by doing just something that’s simple. None of this is rocket science. There’s a feeling that I can’t create accessible because I don’t have a big enough footprint. Universally design is your best friend in small spaces. It makes things work for everybody so much easier and it’s all about reach requirements and those kinds of things.
Erin: Putting plugs in different places to electrical outlets.
Brad: Especially on a new build, it costs about seven bucks to put an outlet in a new build. It costs about $3000 to do it if you have to rip the drywall out. Why not put a plug behind your toilet? Why not put a plug besides your main entry door and your main exit door? Someday you may want a power door operator on that. Why not throw some plugs over by the windows so that you can operate the drapes with a remote or the windows too? When you design a home, in my home, I used crank style windows because I can pull that crank off and put a little motor on that.
Now I can operate the windows from my bed. If you’re going to automate your home, you need these AC outlets everywhere. If you add a design stage at the construction site just throw them in, the more the merrier.
The other thing you want to do is you want to lift all the outlets up by six inches and you want to bring all the switches down by six inches. Now everything’s within reach of most people and it doesn’t look weird.
Sometimes people raise the outlets way too high. It looks horrible. You plug something in, there’s a big cable hanging down the wall, but lifting it six inches puts it within the range of 80 or more percent of the community. If you can keep mom from bending down, it’s a bonus.
If you can put in a touch faucet, touch faucets are amazing. You don’t have to have dexterity to turn them on or off. There’s a little light on there, it tells you the temperature of the water without touching. It is not thought of as a disability thing and that’s great. It really works for my darling wife when she’s baking and her hands are covered in flour and guck, and she doesn’t want to touch the faucet. There’re a million little things you can do to make it work.
The biggest barrier to all people with disabilities is the attitudinal barrier. Pre-conceived notions of what we’re capable of or not capable of. Preconceived notions of us being non-market somehow. The biggest barrier to overcome is what people think we can do and what we can’t do and what we might want. My boss, Rick Hanson said it decades ago when he was talking about his own home and he was talking to the developer and he said, I just want a normal house. I don’t want to live in an institution. I don’t want to live in a place that looks like an institution. I just want a normal house. It’s easy to do. It’s functional. It pays dividends because it increases the value of the home especially as more and more people need this.
It’s an opportunity for everybody to come on board and understand the return on investment. This is not something we’re asking you to do because gee it’s great, because mom’s amazing. Wouldn’t we like to help the community and “Gee guys, I know let’s do this really nice thing.’ There’s money to be made here.
Erin: Brad, as we bring this conversation which has been so enlightening and perfect to a close, let’s fast forward a few months, how do you want to describe the rest of the year in three words?
Brad: Three words. Finally making progress. The Accessible Canada’s Act has been a big push forward. BC now stepped up with accessibility legislation and doing an amazing job through Sam Turcotte and his team. I think it was finally getting the message through and that message of return on investments coming through. I think industry has finally been brought to the table. In the past what’s been happening is people demand higher code requirements and more enforcement. I agree that’s absolutely critical.
You have to have that, but the industry was never brought to the table. They always said, “You will do this now.” That just doesn’t work. Finally, through the RHFAC program, we’re getting industries to the table. We’re helping them understand the return on investment. I’m hoping you understand why it’s so important that this be done at a cultural level. I’ve got great hope for the coming year, and I’ve got great hope for the years beyond that. My fervent dream is to be unemployed as soon as possible because they don’t need a consultant on disability anymore because it’s part of the natural culture.
Erin: Thanks for sharing your insight with us here today and the inspiration of the message that this is just so accessible. Thanks so much, Brad. We really appreciate your time and your wisdom, and we’ll be watching to see more progress. Thanks to people like you and the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Accessibility Certification Program and a reminder to visit rickhansen.com and look at the five myths that Brad McCannell has written. It’s just fantastic.
Brad: Remember that while we may be perceived as the leaders, it’s the people doing the work and it’s your listeners. Your Real Estate agent, REALTORS® generally can make a huge change here just by being aware of this, just by demanding more, just by stepping up and being the voice. We’re maybe leading the scene. We get the nice labels. We get the government grants, but the heavy lifting is done by your listeners, so I really appreciate this opportunity.
Erin: We appreciate it too. A reminder to go to rickhansen.com/become-accessible to learn more and make that difference that Brad McCannell, Vice President of Access and Inclusion with the Rick Hansen Foundation, talks about.
Thank you for joining us here today on this episode of REAL TIME brought to you by the Canadian Real Estate Association, produced by Rob Whitehead for Real Family Productions, and Alphabet® Creative.
Be sure to check out all of our episodes and subscribe so you don’t miss any more great, guests including in Episode 21 Real Estate Visionary Stefan Swanepoel. I’m Erin Davis and we’ll talk to you again soon on REAL TIME.