Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Breaking through Barriers

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Breaking through Barriers

Article excerpt

Whether the space of a palace or the size of a shoebox, a person's home should be a sanctuary--a place they can exhale and are free to be themselves with no barriers or boundaries. For most people, making their home their haven is created with paint and pictures, with flowers and furniture. If you're an individual living with a disability, however, your first concern very well may be as basic as how do you get into your home?

Enter Home Free Home. Home Free Home (HFH) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing architectural design services to people who need home modifications to accommodate a physical disability. Founded in 2006, Home Free Home is a group of volunteer architects, contractors, and university students whose mission is to create barrierfree designs for small construction projects such as ramps, bathrooms, and kitchens. HFH is based in Long Island, NY and has expanded its projects into Massachusetts, Kansas, California, and Georgia. Almost 35 million Americans currently live with chronic disabilities that limit their daily activities and would benefit from home modifications. Even the slightest adjustment to a person's environment can provide a huge amount of independence.

Speaking from experience, one of the most challenging aspects of dealing with a disability is the constant financial impact it has on your life. Hospital and doctor bills, special needs equipment, home healthcare, and medications can quickly deplete a person's finances, regardless of how large an income they have. Modifying a home so it is user friendly for an individual with disabilities oftentimes is last on a list of financial priorities, and many people live day to day without being able to use the bathroom in their own home. Funding programs through federal, state, and local governments can be so complicated and backlogged that many individuals give up trying to use the system for assistance in modifying a home. Home Free Home takes away not only the financial burden, but also the planning and organizing of home modifications so energy can be focused on other needs an individual with disabilities has.

Just ask Jim and Lisa Jackson of Bellmore, NY on the South Shore of Long Island. Their daughter, Glorianna, who was born with spina bifida, is now four years old. She is a smart, adventurous little girl, who needs to get in and out of her house easily so she can explore her world. …

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