Accessible Living

Tonight O.I. will be getting a rare mainstream spotlight on ABC's Extreme Home Makeover; the season finale features the Sharrock family with a young boy who has O.I. Atticus Shaffer from The Middle who also has O.I. will be helping along as well!

As I'm waiting to watch the episode I'm remembering what it was like when my family moved into our current home. We were very fortunate to have parts of the house built to not just 'wheelchair accessible' standards, but to my own standards. Many of you probably experience the frustration of places that claim to be wheelchair accessible, many folks don't get it when you're struggling with getting around tight corners or reaching to open a door. That is one of the gripes I have with living a disabled life: we're not all the same (just like other labels society gives to other individuals).
But I didn't always have a shower head that was 4.5ft from the floor, a sink that was lower, mirrors that angled downwards, or a fully soft carpeted home. I wasn't always able to navigate in and out of the house easily with a wider door that opened out, a smoothly paved driveway and a lower garage door opener panel. These accommodations had to be planned for, measured and worked around. It took the foresight of my parents, the patience & brilliance of architects, and my own creative thinking.

Things to Consider: (for either a home or a dorm room)

  • Keep pathways to exits, bathroom, and bedroom as straight-forward and as clear/open as possible
  • In the main living area keep in mind furniture placements that will be easily move-able for wheelchair access 
  • Have medical necessities (splints, casts, braces etc) in an easy location for anyone to get to (friends, emergency personnel, etc)
  • Book cases and shelves should be firmly mounted to the wall or floor
  • Keep heavier objects at a height that allows you to carry it while in a safe position (not reaching down or reaching up)
  • Racks that would otherwise hold keys can be used to hold jackets and other clothing at a lower level
  • The handy-dandy grabber stick (you know, the thing that opens and shuts like a claw with a clamp. The thing that I used to play countless pranks with in college..)

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