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‘It’s all about adapting’: How a wheelchair user made his house accessible

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Spinal Cord Injury: ,

Thomas Rogers’s house has a lowered kitchen counter, wide hallways, and a elevator

When it comes to what he can and can’t do in his house, compared with an able-bodied person, Thomas Rogers says the only difference is that he can’t reach the top of his closet.

“That’s about it!” he said.

Rogers has made his house in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s into an entirely accessible living space.

“I’m pretty self-sufficient; I can clean my own floors, [do] my own dishes, cook my own food. My bathrooms are easily accessible,” he said.

Rogers says it’s all about space and having things in easy reach, like light switches.

“Everything is spacious in the house — all my doors are 36 inches, my hallways are four feet wide,” he said.

“So even if I’m in the hallway, I can easily turn around instead of having to backtrack.”

Kitchen accommodations

Rogers also has room to manoeuvre in the kitchen, with accommodations so that he can reach everything he needs.

“I have space under the sink, so I can easily get up under it, and easily do my dishes, or wash my hands,” he said.

“It’s the same thing in my ensuite bathroom, same kind of design. I can just roll on in and wash my hands, no problem.”

The kitchen is also equipped with a lowered countertop.

Roger has a lowered countertop, the opposite of a raised bar counter with stools. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

“You know when you have a bar counter in your kitchen, where you sit with stools? It’s like the opposite for me, because I’m shorter,” Rogers said.

To travel between floors, there’s an elevator in an area that looks like a closet.

Rogers has an elevator in his house, behind a door that looks like a closet, so that he can access the second floor. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

For his laundry, Rogers uses a front-loading washer and dryer, so that he can reach into the drums.

‘It’s all about adapting’

Rogers has been in a wheelchair for 19 years now.

“When I was 11, I was in a bicycle accident. I was hit by a motorized vehicle. I ended up damaging my spinal cord in the T-10 area, so that effectively made me into a paraplegic,” he said.

“It hasn’t been easy at times. There’s a lot of things I’ve had to learn. But it’s all about adapting.”

Rodgers doesn’t let his disability stop him from living his life.

“There are some barriers, but a lot of them are the barriers we make for ourselves. So you just have to find ways around things,” he said.

“I’m not saying it’s easy — a lot of it is hard. But a lot of it is worth it if you can manage it.”

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