Does anyone else ever sit at their home and notice all the things they could change if they had they money? I'm not talking aesthetically pleasing changes, I'm talking about accessibility. I currently live in snow country, and I use a wheelchair for mobility. This creates a lot of indoor time when mother nature decides to make her presence known, all over my neck of the woods. When this happens, I often decide to do rearranging and cleaning and organizing. I also tend to do a lot of baking. Recently, I've been spending a lot of time with my parents in the home where I grew up. After my fair share of apartments, I've begun to notice several things that have been a great hindrance to my independence. Things such as: refrigerators with a significant height and depth. I've noticed my parents asking me frequently to cook, but noting my reluctance to do so. The refrigerator is one of the reasons for this.
My parents are over six feet tall. In my chair, I am the same height as a kindergartner. When they put things up on the top shelves and way in the back, how am I going to reach them when I am home alone? Even items on the very bottom shelves, in little drawers on the very bottom are a struggle to reach, when I need to bend down with my weakened back muscles to pick them up. Then there is the stove, with all of its knobs and handles. There are things to pull and buttons to push to set the temperatures. My family likes to use the oven for nearly every meal. We also use a lot of cast iron skillets, which are quite heavy. Trying to put a cast iron skillet into the oven, then pull it out with a lid on it, while it is hot and with the door wide open, and the skillet on the bottom rack, it is no simple feat. Even pulling a pizza out of the bottom rack with my limited back strength getting close enough to the rack to not burn myself, is a chore.
As for the stove top, let's use spaghetti as an example. You need to drain the water off of the pasta after the spaghetti is cooked. My sink is far enough from my stove to, that I need to push my chair at least a couple times to make it over to the sink. With a pan of scalding hot spaghetti in my hand, it is not a simple task
The kitchen window. Ours is located above the sink. It is one of those windows where you need to turn the handle in a circular motion. It is also about a foot above the sink. How am I going to lean up to reach it? It is the same height as the bottom of the kitchen cabinets. Just using those cabinets, someone in my positions needs to use their upper body strength to jump up on the counter to get into the cupboard.
At my parents house they also have a ceiling fan. The only issue with that is I am too short to reach the string to pull it to turn it on. I know they make ones you turn on with a light switch, but this house is quite old and improvements like this can seem to be not worth the money. Sometimes I wonder: what would I do if there was a fire and the smoke detector was going off?
I know there are several other architectural issues with this particular home, but I guess the kitchen is the one that causes the most issues, as it affects the whole family in some regards. If only there was a way to make a fully accessible home that did not cost an entire life savings. Maybe some day.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.