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"The Complete Guide to Barrier-Free Housing by Gary D. Branson ($14.95 paperback, Betterway Publications) is an excellent, in-depth treatment of a subject that has been too much ignored. The book's subtitle is "Convenient Living for the Elderly and the Physically Handicapped."

Branson, a building contractor and veteran writer, says he was scoffed at some years ago when he proposed a magazine series about housing for the handicapped. Today, with an estimated 43 million people having limited mobility because of a handicap or disability, and the proportion of elderly increasing in the United States, barrier-free housing is a timely topic indeed.Doors and stairs that can't be negotiated by wheelchairs are probably the best-known barriers in most homes, but many others can affect the slightly disabled as well as those who use wheelchairs. A few examples: hard-to-turn doorknobs, hard-to-find light switches, slippery floors and bathtubs, unreachable cabinet shelves.

Branson takes homes part by part, starting with the exteriors, pointing out potential problems and offering solutions. Entryways and stairs, bathrooms, kitchens and storage facilities are among the problem areas given in-depth treatment. Low-maintenance construction is discussed, and there is a chapter on choosing a contractor.

"Barrier-Free Housing" is adequately illustrated with photos and drawings and has an excellent appendix, including barrier-free home designs, a list of support groups for the handicapped and sources of special products.

The book can be ordered by calling 800-522-2782 or sending $17.45 to Betterway Publications, Box 219, Crozet, VA 22932.