on the access front

building homes accessible from the start

It’s a growing trend in Ameri­can cities and counties: changing building codes to require basic ac­cess in new home construction. That concept, named Visitability by its originator, Eleanor Smith, was once considered revolutionary but has been embraced by Chicago, Atlanta, Urbana, Ill., and Austin, Texas.

Now Naperville, Ill., and Santa Monica, Calif., are weighing the idea. Advocates for Visitability cite the fact that Americans are living longer and that studies show they much prefer independence to nurs­ing home placement. Owning a vis­itable home would allow them to age in place. Homes built to visit-able standards require one no-step entrance, wide interior doors on first floors, reinforced bathroom walls to allow for grab bars, and installation of light switches and outlets that can be reached by someone who’s using a wheelchair.

Habitat for Humanity has shown that building an average home so it’s visitable from the getgo adds $500 or less to its cost.

Associations of home builders fight visitability, preferring, Mouth imagines, to build “special” acces­sible homes at far higher prices — thus shutting off contact between people with mobility impairments and people without. “The level of what happens to you,” Smith says, “when you cannot get into a bath-room is primitive. Inconvenience is too mild a word for not fitting through a bathroom door.”

A Naperville builder cited by the Chicago Tribune said, “Please do not infringe on the property owner.” And one member of the Naperville City Council, a home builder himself, said, “I’m not go­ing to support this step thing. I’m not going to support any of this.”

hospital and live in freedom, many citizens are forced to undergo a trial of their sanity in a state supreme court. Mouth’s editor has witnessed a few such trials and never seen or heard of a citizen who proved his or her sanity when a psychiatrist testi­fied to the contrary.

Enter Rodney Yoder, an advo­cate for the end of forced treatment who will soon raise the biggest of big questions in an Illinois supreme court: Does mental illness even ex­ist? Professor Thomas Szasz, Dr. Patch Adams, and several other ex­perts on freedom versus force will testify on Yoder’s behalf, hoping to prove to the court that mental illness is a fabrication — albeit an ancient one — which allows society to seg­regate people with inconvenient be­havior.

Yoder served a short prison term for assault on his wife. When he had served his sentence he was not re-leased but remanded to a “hospital” years later, he remains. Yoder has refused psychiatric drugs during his stay there.

Time magazine and several other national journals plan to cover the trial of sanity. This is big.

In order for this trial to serve as a test case and be preserved for ap­peal if necessary, Yoder must be represented by an attorney. And al­though the mental health experts are volunteering their time, attorneys require payment. There are other expenses as well. John Prior, secre­tary of the Rodney Yoder Legal Defense Fund, has put out the call for donations toward that end. (He got two checks from us.) You can send yours to The Rodney Yoder Legal Defense Fund, c/o John Prior, 7714 W. Catalpa Ave, Chicago, IL 60656.

To learn more about Yoder and his case, visit Cal Grandy’s website, www.stopshrinks.org. Or email Yoder at shrinkbusters@yahoo.com