Habinteg Insight Group member, Tanvi Vyas, shares why she believes accessible housing should be built from the outset.
Whether you are renting or buying, or looking on a housing register, the search for an accessible property can be overwhelming. A lack of information or incorrect details can leave you bewildered, meaning accurate and relevant access information can make or break the situation. This is slowly improving, but the struggle is ongoing for many disabled people in search for a place to call home.
Access to the right type of housing, suitable for your needs should never be underestimated. I really believe that living independently, with the right adaptations can seriously improve possibilities, allowing opportunities for work, education, socialising and developing relationships generally. In my experience, the right housing improves mental and physical well-being whilst reducing risks of injuries and enabling life to be lived to the absolute fullest.
Inadequate housing takes such a huge toll on mental and physical health, and for some disabled people, also compromises independent living and accessing social care. In some situations, with the right adaptations in place, less support day to day is required leading to greater freedom.
When my husband Dan and I bought our bungalow-back in 2011 (when he was merely my fiancé!) it was in dire need of adapting. Although it wouldn’t be a complete solution, we thought we would get support from the Disabled Facilities Grant. However, because we both worked it turned out we weren’t eligible. Over the next four years, we put all our savings and earnings into adapting the house. It took a lot of time, money, effort and energy, not to mention challenges with planning and builders, but it was hugely worth it and the best decision we made.
It is important that non-disabled people realise that disabled people don’t get all the support we need handed out on a silver platter. Planning ahead, researching meticulously and travelling far and wide to gain access to the right adaptations, is absolutely vital. It may cost a lot more to find suitable accommodation throughout the whole process, searching, adapting and maintaining the property, however support is out there in many forms!
Building suitable housing from the offset can genuinely change the game. The sooner designers, architects, developers and builders understand that this can be an investment, disabled people will be able to live life much more to the full. There needs to be more acknowledgement that if decision makers consider accessibility early on, and allocate housing appropriately, it can literally change lives.