Sunday, November 8, 2015

Is Your Home Wheelchair Accessible?

Having spent the last 6 weeks "bound" to a wheelchair ( actually three different ones!), I have a new respect and compassion for wheelchair and rollator users. 

But, then again, we all know that we should have special respect for those who have any disabilities. What I have noticed more than once lately is that most adults have been good learners. Remember when your mother told you it was impolite to stare at folks with disabilities? Well, I have noticed that we wheelchair users are pretty much "invisible" to the average adult. 

Not even a kind "excuse me" when a huge broom hits my broken foot ( resting on the footrest of my wheelchair!) at the local beauty shop. Or a sharp bump on my wheelchair when it is rear-ended by a shopping cart at Lidl grocery store. And even hurtled over by a 6 foot tall airplane passenger who thought he could use my bulkhead leg room to advance his exit of the United flight.

So living the mobile life hasn't been easy out in public, but what about here at home at the Beltway Apartment?

Let's begin at the entrance to the building. Actually, let's begin at the back entrance. Even when I could walk without help, I needed help getting into the front door. The front entrance is several tall steps up with a hand rail that is several more steps next to the front door, so as a wheelchair user I have been delegated to go around back. 

As all entrances are kept locked, a key is always necessary. And even standing to get to the lock may be necessary at the back gate that opens for automobiles. Or I would have to carry around the remote opener ( which I would definitely do!). The other back access next to the sport school is even more difficult. Two heavy gates must be opened with a key and maneuvered open while I roll through. Thus, difficult. But, at least the two rear access points are on ground level.

Then after a steep roll up to the building door, there is the threshold. It is virtually impossible to cross alone without stepping out of the chair, stepping across, and then lifting the wheelchair over the metal bump. Then there is the rubber mat on the inside of the door (which I am still trying to figure out how to keep it from smashing my foot or wheelchair). On the way to the lift (elevator in Am. English), the brick walk makes for a amusement park ride. No giggles here, I am afraid. Then there is the ride up two flights after the lift door smacks against the handles of my wheeled carriage.

Home free, you think. Nay! But the ride from the elevator to the first breezeway door is a piece of cake, since that pathway is made of low carpet tiles. If our neighbor lady has left the breezeway door open ( against the fire marshall's rules!), then I just have to step out of the chair, step over the metal threshold, and lift my wheelchair over. Next, the breezeway with rubber beehive mats leads to the next breezeway door threshold. Step out, step over, lift wheelchair over. Sweat!!!

Almost there! Carpet tiles around the corner and then unlock the door to the Beltway Apartment. One more time, step out, step over the threshold to the apartment, and lift the wheelchair into the foyer.

In the six weeks we have been here, I never left this apartment on my own! I never stepped in and out and over by myself. 

Things were easier inside the spacious apartment, as long as I didn't have to go to use the bathroom or to the pantry/laundry room. 

Each of those WC's (water closets) had thresholds, but fortunately I learned how to manage.


Joanne Noragon said...

I hope you and I are all of us in this predicament now. No wheelchair here, but the poor EMS fellows who came to pick me up from the floor last week were magnificect snaking their guerney through my bitty house.

A Quiet Corner said...

Lin, an eye opening experience for sure! When this place was being built, our builder made the main floor very open!...:)JP

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

That sounds so challenging. Our house is not wheel chair ready at all. It wouldn't take much to build a ramp to the front door, but aside from that it has a basement and second floor that would be no-go zones I suppose.

Anonymous said...

No we are not wheelchair accessible; not to get in the house or to get around inside the house. Hopefully if we ever get into the condo building we are on the waiting list for it will be 100% wheelchair friendly.