My Home, My Castle
As disabled people, we live in a world that is still generally not accessible to us. Most of us have been brought up in and live in houses that have steps, high kitchen counters, sinks, cupboards, light switches, cramped toilets and bathrooms and other inaccessible features. We learn to accept that we cannot do things; reach that light switch or do those dishes. We think it is because of our disability that we can’t do things, but often it is not. It is often because our house is not made to suit our needs.
With the NDIS coming to many of us over the next couple of years, we have an opportunity to fix the inaccessible parts of our home. All reasonable and necessary housing modifications will be possible soon. So start looking closely at your home and work out what things need to be changed so that you can access everything you need to make your life better.
I have been gradually renovating and making my house accessible to me since I bought it in 1984. I was still a walking person then, but I particularly looked for a house that would be accessible when I came to using a wheelchair. Over the decades, with my own money and the help of Disability SA funding, I have made my house and yard accessible. A ramp at the front, a fully accessible kitchen with low bench tops and sink, easy taps, lowered light switches, raised power points and of course an accessible toilet, hand basin and shower. I also have a ceiling hoist so I can get to bed on my own at the time I want. Paving in the yard stopped me getting bogged in my wheelchair.
There is so much technology that is available to us these days so there is no reason why we cannot be fully independent or more independent in our own homes. We can use electricity and technology to make many things accessible. Electric opening doors, electric blinds, standup wheelchairs and even cars that you can drive using the joystick on your wheelchair. Apps on our smart phones can be used to turn on lights, tv, air-conditiong, open doors etc by just pushing a button or even just using our voice.
Sometime ago I realised that disabled people generally don’t get to experience full access and I thought it would be excellent if we could see a truly accessible house. I spoke to the Manager of Julia Farr Housing and put to him the idea of a scheme where we could visit accessible houses to get ideas and learn how to do it ourselves. From that idea, grew the Opening Homes Project.
Julia Farr Housing is doing lots of fabulous work making their rental houses accessible and also building new homes with full access built in right from the start.
A new world of access is slowly opening up to us so I encourage you to start dreaming, researching and planning now and make your home your truly accessible castle.