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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

An Update from the NCIL Housing Subcommittee: Representative Schakowsky Introduces the Inclusive Home Design Act!

On July 28, 2015, during the Rally at the Capitol during NCIL’s 2015 Annual Conference on Independent Living, Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky announced that she would be introducing the Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act that very day. The Inclusive Home Design Act is a bill that would have federally funded single-family homes incorporate Visitability.

equal housing opportunity symbolIf you are not familiar with the concept of Visitability, it is the idea, pioneered by Eleanor Smith of Concrete Change in Atlanta, that people with disabilities should be able to visit their neighbors, families, and friends. It has minimum requirements for single-family homes that, as colorfully described by someone, would allow a guest to “get in and pee”. The zero-step entrance and wide interior doors also provide the basics for a person with a disability to reside in, not just visit, a home.

The bill uses the new voluntary Visitability standard in the International Codes Commission/American National Standards Institute 117.1 1005 Type C unit. This would require at least one accessible entrance, an accessible interior circulation path, and a usable bathroom. It also would require a usable food prep area, and accessible lighting controls and outlets. This bill has been called the “federal Visitability bill.”

Representative Schakowsky followed through on her announcement, the bill was introduced in the House as H.R. 3260, and it currently has five co-sponsors: Representatives Clay (MO), Ellision (MN), Moore (WI), Holmes (DC), and Rangel (NY). It was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services, which is chaired by Rep. Hensarling (TX).

There is no Senate version at this time, although last year Senator Harkin introduced the Universal Home Design Act which would require Universal Design features in federally funded single family homes and townhomes.

New Mobility Magazine has a nice interview with Eleanor Smith about the Inclusive Home Design Act.

The NCIL Housing Subcommittee, along with other organizations such as ADAPT, will be advocating for H.R. 3260. We are asking you to reach out to your Representative to sign on to support this bill. Please provide feedback to Brian Peters at


  1. Linda L HALVORSON says:

    A wonderful idea and so finely with our aging population. Now that I use a scooter full time, there are really no friends I can visit in home and when I can, I can’t use most bathroom.

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