Recently for one day Dallas, TX architects sat in wheelchairs and experienced all the struggles and frustrations of the disabled to see what it would be like to maneuver around non-disabled friendly buildings.
The workshop was part of a one-day “Wheelathon” sponsored by the American Institute of Architects’ Dallas chapter.
“Lesson number one was that the minimum building requirements set down in law are just that: minimum,” said writer Brendan M. Case. “Bob Shaw, a principal with F & S Partners, Inc., who was one of the participants (in the Wheelathon), said they could always be better and that as architects it would be worth exploring ways to exceed those minimums.”
Other pointers included that the minimum width allowed for doorways should not only accommodate wheelchairs but leave room for error. One participant observed that copiers should be comfortably low for someone in a wheelchair, though architects don’t manufacture those. Wheelchair ramps should also have flat spots for resting.
Todd Howard of T. Howard & Associates sent nearly all his employees out for a spin in a wheelchair in the office and in public.
The result was that participants experienced firsthand the reasons for the guidelines, he said.
“The worst part about being in a wheelchair is the physical pieces I keep losing of myself,” said Victoria. “But I’d rate my contentment level at nine-plus.”
She urges everyone who is healthy to save money.
According to research people with disabilities have three to four times more health problems but many don’t know they have these problems because they don’t have a regular doctor to monitor their health. Some impairment appears to be linked to other problems at even higher rates. The most common complaint is having new fatigue, weaknesses, and no energy. These problems often progress to the point where the patient can no longer complete household chores or other tasks.
It is important to seek outside help to accommodate these changes. The recommended treatment is to do less, not try to work through them.
The biggest psychosocial problems are family-related. For many people, changes in activities regarding limitations lend itself to depression. Family members and caregivers need to anticipate these changes and plan for them, say experts.
According to the University of West Virginia, there are an estimated 1.4 million wheelchair users in the U.S.
People in wheelchairs have to deal with obstacles getting to work and while at their work station.