row of colorful cartoon houses

The pages in the facilitators guide provide additional information about home usability, community resources and independent living to support completing the Home Usability Program with consumers.

A core value of independent living is full and equal participation in life activities. Centers for Independent Living (CILs) use a variety of tools to prepare individuals and communities for full participation, including independent living skills training, peer support, information and referral, advocacy and transition services. Participation is as much about where people live as it is about them. Independent living philosophy emphasizes that much of what limits an individual’s full and equal participation is in the environment in which he or she lives. This includes both the person’s community and their home.

In fact, participation begins at home. It is where we prepare ourselves for our daily lives. The usability of a person’s home environment can either facilitate or be a barrier to preparation.

Individuals are best able to prepare themselves when they have a home that fits their needs. This means a person has choice and control in using all features of their home, including their bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen.

The Home Usability Wheel

The Home Usability Wheel (below) shows how home features may help a person participate in life. People prepare for the day by dressing, bathing, and eating. Choice, control, and dignity within the home creates a mindset for exercising choice, self-advocacy, and independence in the community. Likewise, the ability to entertain friends and family in a visitable home supports the development of social relationships. Finally, a safe, secure, and comfortable home gives people the sense that they belong, an important aspect of spiritual well-being and health.

Usability: Beyond Accessibility

Although increasing the availability of affordable and accessible housing is essential, making existing homes or apartments more usable is another promising solution. This can be a good option when people either cannot find accessible and affordable housing and must make do with the space they are in, or if accessibility regulations do not address their specific needs and abilities. Home usability is less about measurements and codes and more about fit and function.