The MFH website was created by Teo Wences in 2009 to meet the need for specialized real estate services. Here is the story of how it all began, as told by Teodora.
“In 2007 I was searching for a barrier-free home for a war veteran who was confined to a wheelchair, I soon discovered how difficult it was to find a wheelchair-accessible home for my client. There were plenty of homes for sale, but the listings didn’t provide information about their universal-design and mobility-friendly features. It was very time consuming to call each listing agent and ask for specific information, I did my best to preview the homes and then show them to my client if the house had some promising features for his specific needs.
This experience really opened my eyes. I not only developed a better understanding of the features required in a home to make it mobility friendly, I felt a growing commitment to develop new resources for people with specific needs. I did some research and decided to create a specialized website. I thought that this service was a revolution. Little did I know that the best was yet to come!
In 2009 my mother-in-law had knee surgery. When she came from the hospital it was clear that her one-level home was not designed to accommodate her new physical limitations. I soon realized that not all one-level homes are mobility friendly. A single step down into the living room might as well be a cliff for someone with a knee surgery. Negotiating the narrow hallway also was difficult for someone on crutches. The recently remodeled bathroom was beautiful but it didn’t include a walk-in shower to make bathing easier.
Three months later, my father-in-law fell ill and he was in and out of the hospital. He became very weak, but he insisted on being self reliant. Because of his illness and his ongoing struggle with Parkinson’s disease he needed help around the house. That small step down into the living room then became an imposing barrier for him as well. The house had been completely remodeled over the years, but unfortunately universal design and mobility friendly features hadn’t been taken into consideration. No one seemed to know about these concepts. Looking back, many of the mobility barriers could have been removed without spending a lot of time and money.
These experiences prompted me to learn about aging in place, and I completed the training required to earn the Senior Real Estate Specialist designation. I continued to do research on the topic and found many additional resources. Perhaps the most important of these is the Center for Universal Design at the University of North Carolina, a pioneer in developing the concepts presented in this website.”
A Definition of Mobility Friendly
The phrase “mobility friendly” is a relatively new concept that may need clarification. It considers the overall design of a home and whether each of its design elements helps or hinders the ability of people of all ages and abilities to use and enjoy the home. It is a broad concept that encompasses both adaptations that are helpful now and those that may be needed in the future. It addresses design issues relating to aging in place, the needs of people visiting the home, and as well as accessibility for people with mild disabilities. The mobility-friendly concept can be divided into four levels of design – universal design, adaptable design, visitable design, and accessible design. A home that incorporates elements of any one of these design criteria, or that lends itself to adaptation, is considered mobility friendly.