Posts Tagged ‘new england’

I put together a little video about my latest skiing adventure. I hope you get as much chuckle from watching it as I did making it!


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I just got home late last night from a week of skiing with NEHSA (New England Healing Sports Association).

This was the first sports clinic that I have been too and I now realize how much fun I have missed for the past 20 years.

This particular clinic was held at Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire. I cannot say enough good about the organization, the location and the Veteran’s Administration for putting on such an event.

The skiing was SO much fun! But the bonus for me was meeting so many great participants and volunteers to make the week a huge success.

A special thanks to my ski instructors, Mark and Kevin! They were phenomenal to work with and get to know. And to Ken who joined in with our group and let us use his Go-Pro to capture one of my “finest” moments! lol

The plaque on the trophy that I was awarded says it all! And here is a link to a video to show my comedic moment. Skiing 




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Getting together with friends is one of the many joys of life. Whether going out for lunch, drives in the country, shopping or just sharing a cup of coffee together, friends make it better. But when friends all decide to meet at a home that is not wheelchair accessible, someone like me in a wheelchair could feel left out.

If your personality happens to be like mine, I don’t feel left out or targeted when I’m not able to get into people’s homes. A home is intended to be personal, and represent the style and taste of the owners. There may be tiered landscaping, stairs, multiple floors, etc. And if you are fortunate to live in an older home, there will be many corners with narrow hallways and doors. I certainly do not expect friends to cater to me being in a wheelchair, and redesign their dream home for an occasional visit from me.

Someone asked me if I could write a post offering some practical and inexpensive ideas to make a home accessible for company in wheelchairs. I know that many news homes are now built meeting ADA standards for accessibility which is a great thing for disabled people looking for a home purchase. But, what if you are like me and want to live in the old style homes with many nooks and crannies, narrow steep stairs and natural landscaping?

I have a friend in Maine that lives in a traditional New England farm that was built in 1790. Even if I did nothing more than sit in the driveway and stare at the beautiful architecture, I would be content. I had been in her home before my injury and she was determined that I would get in again. But with granite block steps and narrow doors, it looked a little daunting. But where there is a will, there is a way. So with Wendy and I working together (Wendy doing the work), we are able to get into her kitchen and visit there. I’m not able to go into the rest of her beautiful home because of the narrow doors, but, I would not have her change a thing. It would seem like desecration of a piece of history to me.

Now, all of this being said, there are some simple things that can be done to a home to make it “wheelchair friendly” that will not destroy your home. Let’s start with getting into a home that has steps. The easiest and least expensive method here would be to own a portable metal ramp. This type of ramp is something you can just keep in storage until you need it. I have one and they work great. If we are going over to someone’s home, we pack it up and bring it with us. It just unfolds and lies on top of the steps forming a ramp. Then with just a little assistance if needed, voila, you are inside the home.

Inside of your home the first thing to consider is placement of furniture. Try to have the approach to doorways a straight shot without needing to make sharp turns. This will make even the more narrow doorways possible to get through. If you have doorframes separating rooms in your home, but without the actual door, you can have a carpenter redo the door jams which can give a couple more inches to any door. If there is a door that is used, like for a bathroom or bedroom, there are specially designed hinges known as pocket pivot hinges. These allow the door to swing completely out of the door frame affording more space. Another option here is to install a pocket door. A carpenter can fix this up fairly quickly and without great expense. We have a couple of these in our home in Maine, an older home, and they work great.

The last room I would consider would be the bathroom. Most bathrooms have a vanity style sink that is difficult for people in wheelchairs because of the cabinet. One solution would be to redesign the vanity so there is no cabinet beneath the sink. Another option, depending on how your bathroom is designed, would be to install a wall mounted sink. This is what we have at our cabin in Maine which works perfect for me. Also remember to move the mirror low enough so that a person sitting in front of the sink can see into the mirror. You can sit in a regular chair to test the heights. One last thing would be to install an accessible shower. The market is flooded with many types, designs and price ranges. These can be great for anyone, not just people in wheelchairs.

Well those are the basics that I would consider. The best thing that you can do to make your home accessible, is to make your disabled friends feel welcome. If I know you are sincerely glad to have me visit, then little things that are not accessible in the home will not matter at all. Besides, you will be the one repainting scraped door jams when I leave, not me.  Smile.

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