From time to time, I get requests from Blindfold Games fans to publish their articles. Jackie Waters sent the following to me:
The term “nesting” is in reference mostly to pregnant women who have an instinct to prepare their home for the arrival of their little bundle, but I recently experienced the feeling when my husband’s sister, who is visually impaired, came to live with us.
Certainly, I wanted our home to be as comfortable and welcoming for her as possible, but more than anything, I wanted it to be safe. With a little research and some help from kind neighbors, my husband and I were able to make some low-cost modifications so that she could truly enjoy her new home.
Below are some suggestions on home repairs, for anyone who’ll be opening their home to a person with a disability. These are also great changes to make now if you have future plans for your home–for example, maybe you’d like to pass it on to a family member with a disability.
Having an accessible bathroom is one of the most essential elements to have in your home. In the shower and next to the toilet, install grab bars for reinforcement and extra support. It’s also a good idea to keep toiletries, towels, extra toilet paper, etc., in the same place. We set up a special shelf and shower caddy of toiletries for my sister-in-law to use. I also purchased slip-resistant bath mats that had a greater color contrast with the bathroom tile than our previous mats did.
If your loved one is wheelchair-bound, the doorway (and all doorways for that matter) should be at least 32 inches to allow for an unobstructed route for wheelchairs. The bathroom should accommodate the 5-foot turning radius for wheelchairs, and the layout should be as open as possible. A sloped tile floor leading to a showerhead and drain is ideal to provide easy-access.
An area that can easily be overlooked is the sink. Remove anything that impedes a wheelchair from rolling under it, and be sure to have a clearance of 27 inches, but be mindful to keep the height of the top of the sink between 32 and 34 inches. Little changes like moving the position of the faucets to the side of the sink, lowering the mirror, or mounting a motion-detecting faucet instead of having handles make a big difference.
The exterior to your home needs to be just as accessible as the interior. Clear the path leading to your main entrance to prevent tripping and injuries. Repair any loose railings or paving stones. Adding a ramp instead of having stairs is essential for making your home available to anyone.
Think of the simple comforts that can make or break your day on a regular basis. For example, what if you were freezing cold and couldn’t adjust the thermostat? To solve that problem for his sister, my husband installed a thermostat designed for people with visual impairments. We also installed motion sensitive lights and switched to easier-to-grasp door and cabinet handles.
There are multiple programs available to aid people with disabilities and their families to finance renovations on their homes. Here are a few resources that are more than willing to help:
- Need Help Paying Bills: Loan or grant program for low to middle income families for home improvements
- disability.gov: Offers several resources for aid in home improvements and support services