Norwich Free Academy students win contest for accessible home designs

Two students from Norwich Free Academy recently won first and fourth place in a statewide contest for high school and college architectural students to design a 2,000-square-foot house accessible to people with disabilities.

The Visitability Home Design contest, sponsored by Independence Unlimited, a Center for Independent Living, featured projects submitted by 12 teams of students from Shintaro Akatsu School of Design at the University of Bridgeport, Norwich Free Academy, Danbury High School and Vinal Technical High School.

A home built under visitability guidelines has one zero-step entrance, wider doors and hallways, and a bath on the main floor large enough to be utilized by someone using a wheelchair. The challenge of the contest is to come up with visitable home designs, plot plans and scale models, which also are aesthetically pleasing, suitable for neighborhoods and practical to build.

NFA student Zeb Carty took first place with his visitability home. The judges noted the excellent open concept layout of public areas leading right into an accessible bath and master suite, multiple ramps on the deck, very well-placed grab bars, an abundance of visual representations and exceptionally detailed schematics, a news release announcing the winners stated.

Another NFA student, Derilian M. Rivera Bocachica, submitted a project that captured fourth place.

The winners received cash prizes. Judges gave careful consideration to how well the students understood and expressed the concept of visitability, a home that can be occupied or visited by people who have trouble with steps or who use wheelchairs or walkers.

Independence Unlimited, a Center for Independent Living, which helps people with severe disabilities, sponsored the 2018-19 Visitability Home Design contest, because the agency is concerned about the crisis in available, accessible housing in the Hartford area and is interested in increasing the number of accessible single-family homes available for purchase.

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