CSA, Rick Hansen Foundation support national standard for accessible homes

The Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) is supporting the development of a new national standard for affordable, adaptable and accessible homes across CanadaThe Foundation intends to use the proposed national standard, being developed by CSA Group, to inform the basis of a new Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) module enabling RHFAC Professionals to rate the accessibility of residential homes.

Based upon the National Standard of Canada, CSA B651-18, Accessible design for the built environment, the RHFAC will be the only national program that rates, certifies and celebrates the meaningful accessibility of buildings from the perspective of persons with mobility, vision and hearing disabilities.

The federal government, through the National Housing Strategy (NHS) delivered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), is providing $190,000 in funding to CSA Group to support research and the development of their new standard.

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Research is key to finding new, innovative approaches to help address Canada’s housing challenges and make it easier for Canadians to find a home that meets their needs and that they can afford,” said The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for CMHC. “Our Government is proud to support this project dedicated to affordable, adaptable and accessible housing.”

Research informing the new proposed standard will use established methodologies to contribute to the development of new knowledge and the synthesis of existing knowledge. RHF will provide expertise in housing accessibility as a member of the advisory panel that will help guide the development of the new standard.

The proposed new accessible homes standard will help support the development of affordable, adaptable and accessible homes across Canada by providing evidence-informed guidance, and the application of new and existing knowledge related to best practices for the design, construction, and modification of homes.

Public polling released by the Angus Reid Institute in January 2019 shows that one in three Canadians have issues getting around their own home, and a majority are anticipating challenges moving around at home in the future.

“Having the opportunity to age at home is increasingly important to Canadians, and the need for accessible housing in Canada is a huge issue,” says Brad McCannell, VP Access and Inclusion at the Rick Hansen Foundation. “We’re thrilled that CSA Group will be developing this new residential standard, and look forward to incorporating it into RHFAC to help industry address this critical gap.”

CSA Group is a standards organization which develops testing, inspection and certification. CSA Group currently works with the Foundation to host the online RHFAC Registry of publicly listed accessibility certified sites in Canada and administers the RHFAC Professional exam.

“Consensus-based standards could help give Canadians greater options for accessible housing. Our accredited standards development process aims to create resources combining technical expertise and knowledge with meaningful and achievable targets that are in the public interest,” says Nancy Bestic, Director of Health and Safety Standards, CSA Group.

The proposed new accessible homes standard is scheduled to be published in May 2022.