Ease of Access: Make Way for Wheelchairs in Your New Home

Ease of Access: Make Way for Wheelchairs in Your New Home

Finding that “just-right” home with the right combination of location, size, and desired features can seem futile. Add to that the necessary accessibility features for wheelchair users and your chances of success diminish significantly. The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability reported at least 22% of Canadians ages 15 and older are living with a disability. Our country’s aging population also means an increase in mobility issues among our seniors. Ironically, as more Canadians express a desire to “age in place” in their current homes, we would expect to see more of those homes modified with expectations of accessibility issues. However, the costs of those modifications are prohibitive for many, particularly aging Canadians. At Spinal Cord Injury Prince Edward Island (SCI-PEI), we understand the importance of having mobility independence in your own home and offer some tips for achieving that.

Be prepared before you look

While searching for a home can be exciting – and frustrating – you’re likely to find it fitful if you don’t do your financial homework first. First, you’ll want to find out “how much home” – meaning your mortgage payment – you can afford. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recommends that your mortgage payment stays at or below about one-third of your gross monthly income. This will typically set the parameters for your home’s total cost, depending on the mortgage interest rates. In turn, what interest rate you get, thus impacting your monthly payment, is also affected by your credit score. So you see that getting your credit report is an important early step in the Canadian home buying process.

Expect to bring some cash to the table, as well, for a down payment and some likely closing costs. The amount of down payment you need to make can vary depending on the size of your mortgage but will be between 5-10% of your home’s purchase price. If you have the cash in a savings account, it won’t take you long to access it or transfer it to a chequing account so it’s there when you need it. You may also qualify for Canada’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive program that offers down payment assistance.

Go for bones, not broke

If you find a home with ideal wheelchair accessibility in addition to every other feature you want and need, and that you can afford, you hit the jackpot! However, you may find it easier to forego weeks and even months of frustrated searching and stress by looking at a house’s accessibility potential versus one that already has everything. In essence, you’re looking at whether the house’s “bones,” or basic layout, will make modifications fairly easy and thus less expensive. You may even be able to get help with your adaptive modifications with some of Canada’s disability benefit programs.

For example, ruling out two-story homes and homes on a steep drive or hill immediately narrows your search. Look for homes with French doors, or even sliding glass doors that can be replaced. The wide opening is already there and new doors can be installed in it. Look for thresholds that are conducive to easy ramp building; the lower the current threshold, the better. Be sure there is enough room for adequate ramp width as well as the landing.

Inside, a layout that is already simple with an open floor plan means you’ll have fewer changes to make for wider turning radii. It also means fewer hallways. While many people look for plentiful kitchen cabinets, in this case, the fewer there are – as well as with other built-ins like islands – means less for you to lower or replace.

Another way to save money is to look for “as is” home listings, but if you do, spend the money you’ll save on the home on a real estate lawyer. While this type of home can be cheaper, you could be left with outrageously – and out-of-reach – expensive repairs and structural modifications, or be fighting title ownership problems in the courts. That’s why it’s important to have a qualified attorney examine land and title records, and also hire experienced home inspectors. With an “as is” sale, the seller won’t be required to make any repairs for you, but at least you’ll know whether the issues are manageable. Make sure your attorney inserts a clause that allows you to walk away if the house repairs are simply too prohibitive.

Challenge rewarded!

You’ll almost certainly encounter challenges in your house shopping, but as with other challenges in your life, you will overcome these, as well! Buying a home is another milestone marking your independent living and one that SCI-PEI celebrates with you.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Be prepared before you look

While searching for a home can be exciting – and frustrating – you’re likely to find it fitful if you don’t do your financial homework first. First, you’ll want to find out “how much home” – meaning your mortgage payment – you can afford. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recommends that your mortgage payment stays at or below about one-third of your gross monthly income. This will typically set the parameters for your home’s total cost, depending on the mortgage interest rates. In turn, what interest rate you get, thus impacting your monthly payment, is also affected by your credit score. So you see that getting your credit report is an important early step in the Canadian home buying process.

Expect to bring some cash to the table, as well, for a down payment and some likely closing costs. The amount of down payment you need to make can vary depending on the size of your mortgage but will be between 5-10% of your home’s purchase price. If you have the cash in a savings account, it won’t take you long to access it or transfer it to a chequing account so it’s there when you need it. You may also qualify for Canada’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive program that offers down payment assistance.

Go for bones, not broke

If you find a home with ideal wheelchair accessibility in addition to every other feature you want and need, and that you can afford, you hit the jackpot! However, you may find it easier to forego weeks and even months of frustrated searching and stress by looking at a house’s accessibility potential versus one that already has everything. In essence, you’re looking at whether the house’s “bones,” or basic layout, will make modifications fairly easy and thus less expensive. You may even be able to get help with your adaptive modifications with some of Canada’s disability benefit programs.

For example, ruling out two-story homes and homes on a steep drive or hill immediately narrows your search. Look for homes with French doors, or even sliding glass doors that can be replaced. The wide opening is already there and new doors can be installed in it. Look for thresholds that are conducive to easy ramp building; the lower the current threshold, the better. Be sure there is enough room for adequate ramp width as well as the landing.

Inside, a layout that is already simple with an open floor plan means you’ll have fewer changes to make for wider turning radii. It also means fewer hallways. While many people look for plentiful kitchen cabinets, in this case, the fewer there are – as well as with other built-ins like islands – means less for you to lower or replace.

Another way to save money is to look for “as is” home listings, but if you do, spend the money you’ll save on the home on a real estate lawyer. While this type of home can be cheaper, you could be left with outrageously – and out-of-reach – expensive repairs and structural modifications, or be fighting title ownership problems in the courts. That’s why it’s important to have a qualified attorney examine land and title records, and also hire experienced home inspectors. With an “as is” sale, the seller won’t be required to make any repairs for you, but at least you’ll know whether the issues are manageable. Make sure your attorney inserts a clause that allows you to walk away if the house repairs are simply too prohibitive.

Challenge rewarded!

You’ll almost certainly encounter challenges in your house shopping, but as with other challenges in your life, you will overcome these, as well! Buying a home is another milestone marking your independent living and one that SCI-PEI celebrates with you.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

This article was generously provided to us by our friend Jackie Waters. Thanks, Jackie!

Alberton’s Wheelchair Accessible Swing

This weekend I stumbled upon this wheelchair-accessible swing in Stone Station Park.

It is unlike any I have seen before – it allows the individual access to the swing without leaving their chair, promoting personal independence.

Above is the description of how you use the swing, It is an addition that I was very excited to see.

If you are interested in trying out this swing, click the link below for directions!

Stone Station Park

Icy Scoops Dairy Bar

Good Afternoon everyone! Today we had the pleasure of taking a brief break in our day to get out and enjoy a delicious ice cream cone. Given it was such a beautiful day we thought it was the perfect opportunity to stop by and see the new ramp at Icy Scoop Dairy Bar.

The ramp allows individuals in wheelchairs to enjoy some tasty ice cream with their family and friends after a long busy day, or on the weekend after soaking in the lovely sunshine we have coming our way for the coming days.

For more information please click the link below to check out their Facebook page!

Icy Scoops

Summerside Street Eats Food Trucks

Yesterday we spent the afternoon enjoying Summerside Street Eats, a new addition to Summerside’s waterfront. Our friends at the Summerside Port Corporation worked closely with us throughout the design of the food court to ensure it would be welcoming and inclusive for all. Thank you, Gary and Angie!!

This is a wonderful example of how slight proactive adjustments have allowed easy and comfortable access to the court for anyone using wheelchairs or walkers. (It makes life much easier for parents with strollers as well!)

The ramps all have an easy grade, the washrooms easily accessible with wide doors and well-placed support bars, and most importantly the trucks all have gap-free access to their ordering windows. The picnic tables have recessed trellises allowing wheelchair users to get their knees under the table. This is an easy accommodation which is all too often overlooked.

The food trucks provide their customers with multiple food options, from excellent barbequed brisket sandwiches (like the one Alan devoured) to tasty burgers and fries.

This location is fully wheelchair accessible and is the perfect location for you to go whether that be for a mid-day lunch or on the weekend with friends and family.

We hope that you will take a chance to go up to Summerside to enjoy the great food located at the Summerside Streets Eats. It is important to enjoy this beautiful island whether you are from near or far. For more information, we have linked the website below!

Summerside Street Eats

PEI Housing Support

This department provides Islanders with the support and services needed to become more independent. Partnered with the Community Housing Fund which was given nine million dollars to support islanders. They have put together many useful tools and programs to help islanders become comfortable in their homes.

The 2-1-1 service line is available 24/7 and can be reached by calling 211 on your phone, by emailing help@pe.211.ca or by searching pe.211.ca in your browser. It is a navigation service to direct you to the right department, whether you are the one with questions or are providing support to another individual.

There are many other services that have been set up to provide assistance based on several factors factors. For instance:

  • Seniors housing program: for those 60 years and older, or 55 years and older with a disability.
  • Family housing: for those under 60 for individuals, couples or families with dependents.

Structural improvements through PEI home renovation programs. All applicants must either own, have life interest or be living with family in the given home. Below are three grant supports that were put in place to assist individuals:

  • Disability grant: for those with a permanent disability who need renovations to accommodate their disability (medical verification may be needed).
  • Seniors home repair: essential renovations for seniors (heat, electric, plumbing or safety reasons).
  • Seniors safe at home: for seniors with physical disabilities and given if required to improve physical safety and access.

If you are in need of urgent or temporary housing support you can call The emergency housing line: at 1(833)-220-4722

Or visit https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/housing-0 for more information.

Accessing Our Downtown’s Accessibility

Good afternoon!

We spent the early afternoon touring our downtown streets to assess the accessibility of our local shops and restaurants. We noticed some excellent accommodations but also found barriers that could easily be fixed with a little thought.

We’ve listed some very accessible locations as well as a few of the more challenging ones. We did this to inform our clients by providing some examples of what shops and restaurants can do to make access easier for anyone with limited mobility.

We will first give credit where it is deserving, as there has been great work done to

The amazing addition added this year to Peakes Quay restaurant allows all individuals to enjoy the great food and the great views!
The new Peakes Quay gathering space came with the addition of a handful of accessible tables that allow individuals in wheelchairs to sit comfortably.
This is a perfect example of how an entrance can be made accessible to ensure all are welcomed.

There was definitely room for improvement in a few of the other establishments. We’ll show a few instances where accessibility was not considered. In many cases a few small adjustments could make the environments more inclusive.

This ramp was added to one of the shops of Peakes Quay. It’s well constructed with an appropriate slope, but not flush with the building itself making access difficult or impossible for wheelchair users.
An inexpensive ramp would make this entrance wheelchair accessible
This step is difficult or impossible for any person with mobility challenges.
The floating wharf is a location many enjoy in the summer, but the primary ramp is not accessible thanks to our tides. This secondary exit ramp could be made usable with mitigations to both of the ramp’s ends.

We’re happy to see the many improvements and accommodations that have been made so far. Business owners are taking the concerns of a varied population seriously and are working towards inclusion.

All individuals should be able to enjoy their time freely and comfortably.

Grant Support for Home and Car Accessibility Modifications

All Terrain Conversions - Wolfe Mobility | Accessible vehicles, Wheelchair  accessible vehicle, Wheelchair

Good afternoon everyone!

We thought we’d let you know that the Provincial Government has financial support available for you if you need modifications to your home or car to accommodate a physical disabilty.

Briefly – you may be eligible for up to ten thousand dollars every ten years to be put towards your home, and up to six thousand dollars every eight years.

If you are interested in more information you can click the accessibility supports link below.

Accessibility Support

Exploring the Ontree Accessible Zipline Course

Nova Scotia zipline course now available for wheelchair users | CBC News

Good Afternoon everyone! Today we will be discussing the very exciting opening of the Ontree accessible ziplining course!

Its owner, Juergen Weigelts, wished that he would eventually be able to open a zipline park that would be accessible for those in a wheelchair. Ten years after opening his park he has successfully achieved this goal. This thrilling park is located just outside of Windsor, Nova Scotia. With some adjustments to ensure the safety of all individuals this course is seen to have given the feeling of ‘flying through the trees’. It takes the obstacles that are faced in daily life and makes them fun!

If you are interested in more information or to book your reservation below I have attached their website link! If anyone has any questions or would be interested in attending a field trip later on in the summer please contact us at 902-393-0017.

https://www.ontreepark.com/

Exploring Our Island

A person in a beach wheelchair crosses the sand while silhouetted by the brillant sunset.

Good afternoon everyone! We decided it was the perfect time given the lift in restrictions to create a travel guide for Prince Edward Island. Whether you are coming from afar or are interested in getting out and experiencing our beautiful island. We have created a list of places to stay and things to do which are accessible, that we hope you will find useful!

Hotels

All have wheelchair accessible rooms with lowered beds and roll-in showers.

Things to Do

Our Explore PEI page rates restaurants and other amenities for accessibility.

“If Things Go Wrong”

It is important to prepare for anything when travelling, that is why we felt it would be very beneficial to put together a list of locations that you can go when in need of help. Whether that be with your wheelchair or if you are in need of emergency supplies. Below we have attached a list that can assist you with locations spread throughout the island!

Where to Get Your Wheelchair Fixed

Where to Buy Emergency Supplies

Check out this gorgeous accessible home by Brehaut Architecture in Murray Harbour, PEI

This Murray Harbour home was designed to be fully wheelchair accessible from the entrances, to the kitchen, the bathrooms, and even storage space. It is located on a private lot overlooking Murray Islands and was designed by Brehaut Architecture. From the outset, you can see the entrance is accessible with wide, ground-level doors, and the large windows were installed relatively low in height so that wheelchair users can enjoy the spectacular view.
Brehaut was able to use universal design principles to create a fully functional space without sacrificing aesthetic appeal.
This dining table is the perfect height for a wheelchair user to be able to fit under comfortably.
The countertops in this very accessible kitchen were designed to be low enough for a wheelchair user to easily access so that prepping and cooking is not a problem, while still being a comfortable height for an able-bodied person to use while standing.
The oven and kitchen sink have a gap where a wheelchair user can slide under to use appliances.
There is slide-out shelving inside cupboards throughout the home to make it easier to access the items inside.
As well as being very spacious to allow for lots of maneuvering room, the bathroom has a mounted sink that allows a wheelchair user to sit under, and handlebars by the toilet for bathroom transfers.
When you walk into this home, you don’t think, “It’s obvious a person with a disability lives here,” you think, “Wow, what a beautiful and spacious home.” It’s a great example of how using universal design to create an accessible and inclusive space for everyone can be done in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and welcoming. Read more about universal design here.