Dry way or the high way




Accessibility expert lives in an inaccessible home

Rollstuhl Farfler’s 3-wheel wheelchair, 1655. Public domain.

bootcamp2015-small 2In which I admit that my commitment to accessibility is not without limits.

There’s a limit to how far I’m prepared to plan ahead. Making my home safe, shareable and secure is as far as I’m willing to go at this stage.

One day I may need a walker or a wheelchair. That’s on the cards for someone who lives to 99. Does that mean I’m planning to make my home wheelchair accessible? No way. Not possible.

Hills, stairs and storeys

It so happens that the apartment I love is on a hill, up some stairs, and two storeys high. Worse, it’s an art deco building with walls made of nine-inch thick reinforced concrete. Any attempt to widen the doorways would be ill-advised for engineering and aesthetic reasons.

There’s a paradox here. In my professional life, accessibility looms large. My company audits websites for accessibility and trains writers to make their digital content accessible to everyone, including readers with disabilities of any sort—for example of vision, hearing, mobility or other physical problems. But when I need a wheelchair-accessible home, I’ll have to move.

This place is unfixable

Sometimes I stare out the window and visualise lifts. Or drone-delivery to my rooftop deck. Or beam-me-up-Scotty teleportation. They’re all equally improbable ways of conveying an old lady upstairs, given the type of building I live in.

All the more reason to get cracking on all the other boot camp challenges. As the apartment has its intransigent challenges, I’ll need to be in top form.

When it’s time to move, I’ll move. That’ll be at least 10 if not 20 years hence—and I sincerely hope, never.

When youth challenges age in the playground, competition is fierce

Thank goodness for Ruby (not her real name), my almost-teenage granddaughter.  When she visits on Mondays after school, she often takes me to the local playground and sets challenges. This spurs me on, and  I might even secretly practise on Saturday mornings when I take 3-year-old grandson Finn (not his real name) to the very same playground. I’m not saying I do. I’m not saying I don’t.

We are both fiercely competitive on these occasions, but we are also kind.

Yesterday challenge #1 was a race over a very steep, rough track up and down a hill.  I always win this one, because I am fearless.

Rachel standing on a high fence.
I climbed the fence!

Challenge #2 was climbing an unclimbable barrier around a tree, using a conveniently placed stick. For the first time, I actually achieved this. Feeling proud! But Ruby did it faster.

The pigeon-toed approach to walking a log.
The pigeon-toed approach to walking a log.

Challenge #3 was to walk along a log barrier without falling off. I achieved about 20 metres by dint of a new pigeon-toed technique.

The Peter Pan way of falling off a log.

Falling off a log is easy, I grant you that. But this too became a joyful event when I applied the Peter Pan technique. I lost the challenge but improved my personal best.

Challenge #4 was swinging from the monkey bars. Ruby always beats me but I did make it to the fifth bar. Not bad, huh?

Who can swing the highest?
Who can swing the highest?

The fifth challenge was impossible for us to judge: who could swing highest? I reckon we were quits.

Final score: Ruby: 3, Granny: 1, R&G equal: 1.

Do you have grandchildren who push you beyond your personal best? If so, you know how lucky you are.

Thanks to Ruby for the photos. Masterly!