Accessibility


Accessibility is vital to live life fully - and it is so much more than constructing ramps for wheelchairs. "Wobbly walkers" come with their very own access issues.

The social model of disability argues that no-one is disabled as such - it is society that excludes people with bodies that function differently.  If you think about it, it makes sense, and once access is taken care of, people will be part of their community.

Access applies to many aspects of life, and comes with its very own challenges depending on people's disabilities.

- wheelchair users

- those using walking sticks and walking frames

- those who walk unassisted yet are unsteady on their feet or have poor balance

- visiually impaired people

- hearing impaired people

- people who cannot read (or cannot read the language used)

Here are some access issues we (have) face(d) with our kids, and how we try to deal with them.

Railings along the stairs allow increased independence - we did find that wooden railings work better, as they tend not to get quite as cold or hot as metal ones.

Handrails (or furniture) placed in strategic places allows people to hold on. This is especially useful in tricky situations like corners or dark places.

Soft floors cushion falls (and also have the benefit of making falls easier) - untrendy as it may be, astroturf is so much more gentle than rocks, and carpeted stairs are preferrable over bare ones.

Some rooms in your house may need special attention, like the bathroom. Once the kids get older, they will want some more privacy in the bathroom, and so the fixtures need some thinking. Floors should be as anti-slip as possible, the shower as big as possible (to allow your child to sit on a plastic chair in the shower) and the sink should equally be able to hold a (wheelchair) underneath. The door should open outwards (in case your child falls behind the door, so you can still get into the room) or slide. Ideally, it has a lock you can override in case you may need to get a child that fell out.

If you are making modifications to your house, consider the following:

* install ramps rather than stairs where you can,

* widen doors to one meter, to allow wheelchairs through,

* place door entrances flush with the floor, to allow a wheelchair or walker easy access. 

* think hand-rails - often they can be used otherwise, like this handrail in our shower which is also a towel rack

and they don't have to be expensive or permanent - these indoor ones were made from simple stuff any hardware store stocks, and can easily be removed

 

* buy a shower that moves along a rail - thus growing with your child