Re: Cohousing and Individuals With "Disabilities"
From: MelaSilva (MelaSilvaaol.com)
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 10:45:55 -0600
In a message dated 96-01-17 12:36:45 EST, you write:

>My next question, then, is to what extent has cohousing been successful in
>including people with various disabilities in shared decision-making and
>community-building?Are the interdependent relationships to which members of
>cohousing communities aspire inclusive of people with severe disabilities
>including cognitive and others?  In other words, will people who are usually
>regarded by others as having "disabilities" likely to find cohousing
>communities more welcoming and inclusive than the society in general?


  At Southside Park we addressed this in many ways from the beginning. One of
our early members is a wheelchair user, and her unit is fully accessable. So
is the common house. We have another unit that is very freindly, and would be
the easiest to adapt to a wheelchair.( All the other units have steps - most
only 3). When we designed the larger units one of the priorities was to build
a ground level bedroom and bath in case it was needed by any one who had
trouble with stairs. We did use lever handles throughout, but most other
stuff would have to be retrofitted. We have 2 members who have had hip
replacement and  1 who had knee replacement. There is nothing like have
members who care about a particular issue to keep in on the table. One of our
members joined with her mentally retarded son, and having a safe environment
with friends for him was at the top of her list. 
  Altho the physical plant issues have to be addressed, repeatedly, the fact
is that cohousing is a major blessing in terms of people who really care, are
really there.It takes time and events to quit thinking of someone as "the
lady in the wheelchair" and think of her as the woman who quilts at every
meeting and yet never fails to put in her 2 cents!

Mela Silva
Southside Park
Sacramento, CA

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