Health Services Committee assesses accessibility

By Carolyn Compton and Suzan Wynne

Co-Chairs, Health Services Committee

How is Riderwood doing with respect to making our community more friendly to people with mobility, vision and hearing challenges? In July and August, the Health Services Committee (HSC) of the Resident Advisory Council (RAC) held neighborhood-based listening sessions to gather input about this issue. Residents were asked for comment about accessibility in their apartments, outdoors, and in public spaces. The four well-attended sessions captured many excellent observations and suggestions for improvement. The HSC compiled the results in a “White Paper” that was shared with: the RAC; the staff-resident Design Input Group (DIG) that is reviewing plans for the Lakeside Commons repositioning; Riderwood’s senior administration; members of Erickson’s executive team, and National Senior Campuses Board members. The reaction to the recommendations has been uniformly positive. Indeed, a number of the specific recommendations for improvement have already been implemented. 

The Committee’s findings and recommendations were presented at a Town Hall meeting on November 13. The meeting was taped and will be on Riderwood TV in December. Responding to the Committee’s initiative and Erickson’s efforts to improve accessibility was Mark Sawyer, who is on the Development Team with Erickson.  

The Health Services Committee’s key recommendation is that all Erickson communities follow the Seven Principles of Universal Design (UD) in selecting fixtures, furniture and other materials for all  construction and renovation projects. Universal Design, developed in 1997 at North Carolina State University under the direction of Ronald Mace, is a framework that increasingly drives decisions in architectural and interior design circles. It is a functional framework that aims to result in residential and commercial design that maximizes flexibility and minimizes hazards for everyone. The principles are: Equitable use; Flexibility; Simple and intuitive; Perceptible information; Tolerance for error; Requires low physical effort; Size and space for approach and use.

Residents will be hearing much more about accessibility and Universal Design as the Wellness Center and the renovation of Lakeside Commons move forward.  

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