Most times, I have noticed when they say that an apartment or building is ADA compliant the truth is, they are not, at least not 100 percent. That’s one of the first things you must look for when searching for an apartment. Make sure it’s convenient for you to get in and out of the building, as well as getting in and out of your apartment or unit. The width of doorways is especially important. if you are in a power wheelchair, which are typically bigger and heavier chairs, make sure you can move easily through doorways and check that the rooms are big enough for you maneuver your chair around. It’s important that you feel comfortable in your apartment and you have enough space to function and move independently.
A lot of times they offer ADA compliance within the apartment. Look for lower sinks in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as lower countertops. Look at the appliances in the apartment as well. Are they lower to the ground? Whether you are in a manual or power wheelchair, look at the placement of the stove, microwave, dishwasher, etc. Also, check where the thermostat is. Are you able to reach it? It’s always nice to have easy access to closet space. We all we try to live as independent as possible and each situation is very different. Check out the ramps and make sure they are legit and compliant with your needs. Ask about your neighbors. Are they good people? That’s always a plus. Able-bodied people don’t have to worry about this stuff as much. Which is why sometimes, you gotta advocate for yourself if things are not compliant.
Because I have iLevel technology on my power wheelchair, I am fortunate to be able to adjust my seat height to reach appliances and things that are normally out of reach. And then, when I want to be lower in my seat height for sitting at tables, I can adjust my chair easily. In many situations, you have very little control over your environment. This is why we do as much as we can to make things accessible for us.
If you are looking for an apartment in the city, check out the parking situation. City parking can be tough, but if you are close to an accessible parking spot, that will save you a lot of time and be extremely convenient. Depending on the vehicle you have, make sure the space is big enough for you to get in and out of the space and make sure there is sufficient space if you use a wheelchair ramp in your car. If you are going to rely on public transportation, make sure the city has buses and taxes that are wheelchair accessible.
Looking for an apartment can be tough, especially if you have very specific needs. This is why it’s important to do your research and make sure the place you are looking at will work for you. Once you find that perfect apartment, it’ll be extremely gratifying and you’ll be very comfortable and happy with your living situation.
About Jesse Cuellar: Jesse is an artist and a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. An accident left him paralyzed from the neck down, so he uses his mouth to paint and expresses himself through his art. Jesse lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and enjoys painting and hanging out with his friends. Click here to learn more about Jesse.