Re: Experiences with/as disabled people in cohousing
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2018 09:37:00 -0800 (PST)
Allison — this is a much clear delineation of the problem you are seeking to 
address than your first email.  So I’m delighted we have gotten to the crux of 
the issue you are trying to surface.

Just to be sure I’m understanding the issue … you are concerned 

— that there are communities that have had “bad experiences” trying to provide 
accommodation to folks w/ disabilities.  

— And that there is some reluctance by folks who have had these experiences.  

I’m sensing the reluctance may be 

—fear of being labeled as “prejudiced”,  

— fear that it is not “politically correct” to have any viewpoint other than 
100% enthusiasm and support for those w/ disabilities

— fear that if there is a problem w/ this in the community then it’s the abled 
bodied folks that are the source.

Am I anywhere close to understanding the problem?  Did I miss the mark 
entirely?  Feedback, Allison?

I will likely have to write several emails because my day is so scripted I have 
15 mins. here, 15 mins. there, etc.

And, full-disclosure, I am a power wheelchair rider living at Takoma Village 
Cohousing in Washington DC now starting year #18,  While I’ve had a disability 
for 40 years it’s only the last 13 years that I’ve been using a power 
wheelchair full time.

Oops.  Conference call time. Back when I can …  feedback requested as per 
above.  Thanks!

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church, VA

As long as you have two or fewer … your ducks are always in a row.  The Covert 

> On Mar 5, 2018, at 11:52 AM, Allison Tom <allison.tom [at]> wrote:
> Hello Dick,
> My sense is that there are communities that have had bad experiences trying 
> to accommodate disabilities and that there is a reason other than prejudice 
> or "just not being aware" that lies behind the hesitation I sense.
> I'd like to know if I'm over-reading this, if people have had experiences 
> that have led them to this reluctance, and so on.  Of course, I'm also 
> interested in situations where disabilities have been successfully 
> accommodated, but I'm trying to get at the quieter edge of this as well.  I 
> know that a listserve may not be the right place to probe such a question, 
> which is why I'm open to other ways of hearing from people.
> Thanks for the initial responses, and I hope to hear more.
> Allison
> On 2018-03-05 8:42 AM, Dick Margulis wrote:
>> Maybe I'm naive, but . . .
>> I'm a reasonably able person, meaning whatever minor disabilities I have do 
>> not rise to the level that someone would identify me as needing special 
>> accommodations of any sort. I'm stuck with my white male privilege.
>> Nonetheless, I don't find it the least bit difficult to make space in my 
>> mind for accommodating others' needs in the cohousing community we've 
>> designed and are about to build. This has been an issue front and center 
>> throughout our long years of working with architects and engineers and 
>> working within our own group to establish policies and rules. And the 
>> architects, engineers, and other consultants are all on the same wavelength 
>> with us on this topic.
>> Yes, it's entirely possible we've overlooked something and will have to make 
>> adjustments (in construction details as well as in policies) as more people 
>> with various kinds of disability join us. But I cannot imagine that anyone 
>> in the group would resist welcoming someone who wanted to be part of a 
>> cohousing community. (This is completely aside from the fact that we are 
>> subject to fair housing laws, which mandate that we behave in the way we are 
>> inclined to behave anyway.)
>> I wonder whether people whose inclination is to ignore other people's 
>> challenges and avoid accommodating them as long as their own needs are met 
>> are good candidates for cohousing in the first place.
>> Dick Margulis
>> Rocky Corner cohousing
>> Bethany CT
>> On 3/5/2018 11:16 AM, Ann Lehman wrote:
>>>  From Karen Jolly who is a partially disable member of our community
>>> “First, there must be complete accessibility.  Our building does not meet 
>>> that requirement.
>>> The community must recognize that the community tasks need to be assigned 
>>> with abilities in mind.  This means some folks may do the same task 
>>> indefinitely (like mopping floors) and there may not be an equal division 
>>> of responsibility.
>>> The issue of potential extra care should be addressed.
>>> Personally, cohousing is an excellent choice as long as the community has 
>>> addressed the extra care that may be required.
>>> Karen”
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