Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Where the Living Is Easier

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Where the Living Is Easier

Article excerpt

Last fall I visited Sun City, Arizona, for the first time. I entered the sprawling retirement community with vague visions of golf carts, country clubs and mah jong in mind. But Sun City, I learned, is much more than a playground for the wealthy retiree set. It is an environment designed to meet the challenges of aging so that residents can go about their lives through the years with ease and enjoyment, despite physical disabilities that may arise. Sun City single-family homes are all one-level buildings with a few special features: wide doorways and hallways, ramps instead of steps, fittings for railings in the bathrooms should they become necessary. None of this was readily apparent when we looked at the homes, however. It's not as if function rendered their form unattractive.

Coming home to our little cape-codstyle house certainly made me think a bit about accessibility. My 66-year-old mother has trouble with the steep stairways. No wheelchair could make it through one of our doorways. And a person with arthritis would have a rough time getting in and out of the bathtubs. Our home was built in the 1940s, but I can't say many of the new homes I've seen are that much more accessible.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and the rising voice of groups that work on behalf of people with disabilities have made not only individuals but businesses more aware of the needs of this constituency. Doesn't it make sense to start building more homes that can accommodate a wide range of people, especially as our population ages? Homes, like the ones in Sun City, that are both easy on the eye and easier to live in? Some builders have already begun this process, which they call "universal housing." On the leading edge of this movement is a construction technology program in Charlottesville, Virginia, that has high school juniors and seniors building a universal house and also learning what it's like to live with a disability. Assistant Editor Marlene Lozada gives us a look at this novel program beginning on page 18.

Also this month we revisit some of the challenges of work-based learning. Assistant Editor Chuong-Dai Hong Vo combed through recent studies and talked with several employers to find out how educators can woo reluctant business partners. …

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