Leaving Treadmarkz Across the Universe

How To Adapt Your Home/Mind To Your Disability

with 6 comments

by Treadmarkz

A couple of nights ago one of my employees pulled me aside because she said she had to talk to me about something, “un-work-related.” Employees often come to me and my fellow supervisors with personal problems especially if they relate to that person’s inability to make their scheduled shifts for the week, so I didn’t think anything of it. When we went into my office she asked me if I could make any recommendations on adapting a house for a friend who was recently paralyzed in a car accident.

Should be easy, right? I’ve got spina bifida AND my father is a carpenter. I deal with finding different ways to do things all the time that other people take for granted right? Well, as it turns out, I am the one that takes everything for granted because I have apparently become so complacent in the way I live my life that I could come up with no advice other than to make sure the sinks have room for a wheelchair to pull under. Because I was searching my own memory bank for adaptations in the usual household setup that I have personally found useful, I found myself buying some time by pontificating on the importance of making the guy feel like nothing has changed, like you still have the same relationship as you did before. I felt shallow for only being able to think of that, and I promised the girl I would look into it myself and see what I could come up with.

I have just gotten so used to finding ways to do things or just dealing with the fact of life that things are not always going to be made easy for me. Aside from the obvious, that is – access to the house itself, doorways wide enough to get through, making sure things can be reached from a wheelchair. I mean, life should not be a constant struggle, of course.

My wife often asks me why I don’t make calls to see if I can’t get certain things changed or adjusted so it is easier for me to use, or why I don’t invent things to make life easier for myself and people like me. The reason, I think is because I’d rather continue to live my life like I have been (as similarly as possible to the way everyone around me is living theirs) than try to change it. Even if certain aspects of it suck a little bit from time to time.

The truth is that I don’t see a lot of websites that are specific to this problem. Not that you can easily find by Googling the expected phrases like “adapting your home for a disabled person”. Should be a large market for this developing as we are in war time and we have thousands of injured veterans coming home, and back to their family life. People around me will probably say “Well now that you’ve seen the need for one, why don’t you start a website that has that type of information in it?”

I wanted to try to find the information my co-worker asked about because I do have great sympathy for anyone who loses their physical abilities mid-life. Especially in the case of the person my co-worker was talking about, who, by no fault of his own, was paralyzed probably for life.

I have thought about it though, and I have come to the conclusion that my advice was the best I could give. I have lived with many roommates and now with my wife, and based on the good experiences I have had with all of the people I have lived with, I can honestly say that I would rather live in a place that was not extremely accessible with people who treated me like I was able to do anything they were, than live in a Paraplegic’s Paradise with every accommodation made, with people who in one way or another made you feel like a less able person. As a disabled adult, I can attest that the people around you have a huge psychological impact on how you conduct yourself.

6 Responses

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  1. Hi Treadmarkz
    Please contact me. I am trying to become well educated home modifier for people who need some changes to make there home work for them.
    This is a link of a job we just finished for a local TV station. Go to bottom of the page click on contact 6.
    Then wheel chair ramp 11-9-08



    November 20, 2008 at 6:11 PM

  2. Often times it begins with just being able to gain access to a building/home, and then the rest is easier. We built our home with no steps – the garage is ground level, as is the rest of our home. There are no barriers to get into our home. (If there are steps in the home, a ramp using proper grade elevations is very important). There really are very few other things that the human eye would even notice as “adaptations”. Our hallways are wider, three foot wide doorways (great for moving furniture), bathrooms have a five foot turnaround area, and the sink in one of the bathrooms does not have a cabinet underneath, so a wheelchair can pull right under the sink. Those are the very basics and would be conveniences for any or all of us!! Like Treadmarkz alluded to, who would want to live in a home with very obvious handicapping accommodations. God bless the car accident victim and hope that he will live out his life with positive thoughts and surround himself with loving and caring friends. Now THAT is something no one can take away!!!


    November 20, 2008 at 9:37 PM

  3. I agree with you up to a point, when I am outside of my home wearing my prosthetic leg, if I am not wearing shorts, then nobody would ever know about my disability. But in my room, where I relax and live alone, I have it arranged so that once I take my leg off and sit on my bed, other than going to the bathroom where I have to crawl for a shower or whatever, everything is positioned easily for my use, my computer, my phone, my kettle and very important for me, my fridge with cold beer and sandwiches too :-))

    Cheers for now

    Legless Fool

    Legless Fool

    December 1, 2008 at 4:13 AM

  4. I wrote a chapter in my book on adapting a house. The one suggestion I can give now is for the kitchen. If you use a wheelchair remove the lower cabinets and empty them. Place the contents of the drawer on a cart with wheels and put it next to the dinner table. Once there is space underneath the counter you can put your footplates inside and reach the counter head on rather than sideways. Also do that for the area under the sink.Any questions? contact me at swheels@verizon.net

    Susan Schaffer

    December 20, 2008 at 10:14 AM

  5. Google “universal design.”


    January 10, 2009 at 7:16 PM

  6. Also check out the ADA code as it provides a good starting point.


    February 24, 2011 at 5:30 PM

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