A Linear, Accessible Master Bathroom?

After many, many iterations, I think we’ve finally settled on a design for our accessible master bathroom.  It’s a whopping 21′ long and 8′ wide, includes a 5 x 8 roll-in shower, 2 wall hung sinks with covered plumbing, a chair-height commode with appropriate grab bars and a nice, deep whirlpool tub. 

The linear thing came to me when I was considering how we would use the future ceiling lift/transport system at some point.  The line-up of fixtures would allow the most straight forward, equipment efficient and cost effective way to use the space considering Jim’s challenges.  Instead of mulitple “stops” (which are pretty expensive) in the ceiling track, we’d only need a “T” shape which should really help. More

Beyond the standards – personalized design for accessibility and aging in place

We’re in the middle of the design process on our “forever” home and accessibility is at the top of our list.  I’ve seen the little dotted circles on “canned” house plans I’ve researched on the internet – that’s usually a 5 foot radius that a wheelchair might use in that particular area.  It’s nice that these things are being considered by more and more architects but is it enough? 

For us, the standards are a jumping off point.  I see them, I think about them but I have to inject reality.  Jim’s power wheelchair is huge and it’s rear wheel drive.  That means it has more sticking out from the back than in front.  That presents a manuevering challenge.  If you don’t study how the chair tracks when turning, you may find yourself repairing and repainting molding and door trim way more often than you’d like.  More

Can a refrigerator raise self esteem for a disabled person?

Our Fridge of all Fridges!

A refrigerator.  We all have ‘em.  We all use ‘em.  Some have freezers on top, others on the bottom.  Some are side by sides and still others are called armoire style.  The interesting ones have ice makers and filtered water dispensers.  They come in black, white, biscuit, stainless steel and probably other colors as well.  To someone in a wheelchair, the finish might not matter much but the configuration can be the source of frustration or an everyday item that can be the source of a feeling of independence, freedom and accomplishment.

Think about being in a wheelchair.  Your eye level is different than an able-bodied person.  For my husband, a standard side by side configuration is nice because he can pretty easily open the doors.  They’re narrow so they don’t weigh so much.  However, since his left side is challenged, that configuration isn’t the perfect one – he can get one side opened reasonably but not the other without some monumental repositioning effort.  For Jim, a bottom freezer configuration works pretty well but those doors tend to be very heavy.  If items are thoughtfully placed into that type of fridge, he could maneuver his chair and get to what he wants with consistency.  But even that’s not perfect. More

Musings on an accessible bathroom

Accessible, not institutional… lots of designers seem to have the accessibility part down.  They have the right turn radius space built into the plans, they specify a roll-under sink and a high toilet but when it comes to finishes there’s one thing you just can’t ignore.  It looks sterile.  It looks institutional.  And when I think of my husband’s plight after his brain injury:  where’s the dignity and pride in ownership in that? More

Everyone Should Have Equal Access! It’s the law!

Hi and welcome to my world.  While I’m not disabled in any way, my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury nearly 6 years ago so I’ve certainly felt the limitations of the world in a tangible way.  We’ve just completed a move from Florida to Washington and are in the process of designing our “forever home” — the last house that we ever intend to live in will be a universal design.  My head is chock full of ideas about making access and life easier, so much so that I want to document and share them — and see how others deal with similar challenges.   So check back often and follow our progress as we push boundaries and attempt to make the best possible life a reality NOW!

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