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Tuesday

 

My Travels With MS: What’s Accessible, What’s Not?






















By the end of November, I’ll have spent two-thirds of my nights away from home this month, including in 10 different beds and a couple of airplanes. Luckily for me, I’ve been so bloody tired that I’ve slept well enough in spite of this.

The levels of accessibility accommodation that I’ve been afforded (all without actual request) have varied widely, and I’m beginning to learn what’s helpful even when I don’t think I need such things.

Not having asked for anything special — and the fact that the facilities were in several different countries (and not always hotels) — I wouldn’t have expected an equal level of quality or accessibility for a person living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Indeed, I experienced quite differing standards, and was rather surprised in some cases.

Private Homes in Europe
In general, I found private homes on the European continent — particularly anything built within the past 40 years — to be surprisingly easy to get around. Doorways were wide, many things were on one level, and there was smooth flooring with few transitions or thresholds, which made tripping a non-issue for me.

European stairs were a mixed bag. Internal stairways tended to be narrow, which I found helpful because I could use the walls opposite the handrails to steady myself. But both internal and external stairways seemed to be built at far steeper angles than I’m used to. And in many buildings — even newer ones — I found the elevators to be small …  if I found them at all.

Texas Hotel Room
I did not request, nor was I given, an accessible room at my hotel in Fort Worth, Texas, for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s leadership conference. But I did visit a friend in his room, which was accessible. Both of our rooms were spacious and easy to get around in. The accessible room, however, seemed a bit … I don’t know… clinical?

I’ve found that to be the case in many, if not most, hotels that are Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. They do the job and follow the guidelines, but I always feel like I’m just in a very nice room in an expensive nursing home.

Irish ‘Holiday Home’
Quite different — and to my liking and surprise — is the “holiday home” Caryn and I are renting this week while she is consulting in the east of Ireland.

Described as “wheelchair friendly and designed through with this in mind,” it has features one would expect, and some that I’d not thought of.

One bathroom has the roll-in shower enclosure, high toilet, and lowered sinks you’d expect. The ensuite bathroom, however, is spacious and has a “wet room” shower that’s convenient and enjoyable even for people who don’t need to take a shower sitting down.

Most of the countertops and cooking surfaces are at lower levels to accommodate use from a wheelchair (or a plain chair) if it’s tough to stand. One countertop is at “normal” height for companions, or for when standing is easier.

Wide doorways, a single flooring type, and ample space between items of furniture make it easy to get around with a cane (but I’ll admit that wall/furniture walking is difficult because of it).

Our Own Little Cottage
It’s been — and continues to be — a busy month. I’ll be happy to settle back into our little cottage after one more short trip to Dublin to meet with the award-winning bloggers from MS Ireland in two weeks.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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