Access-A-Hut's Blog

November 25, 2011

Open letter to south africa airlines

Filed under: Uncategorized — by accessahut @ 3:37 am
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I am a handicapped person travelling alone. Being abandoned and having to crawl on the floor in the New York Kennedy airport greatly overshadows the otherwise kind, efficient, and professional courtesy I received from South African Airlines. This problem could be completely eliminated if you would institute a handicapped passenger waiting area in New York (and other areas that do not have one), as you have done in Johannesberg. Could you band together with other airlines to help ensure that no one else has to crawl to get to a restroom or even their flight? Thank you.


While I can walk some, I have a condition where I dislocate joints very easily. I dislocated my right knee while going through security at Denver International Airport. Thus, I was already in pain starting out on my long journey from Denver, Colorado to Johannesberg, South Africa. When I got to New York, I had to go through security again. I explained my condition, but TSA staff there did not listen, and they promptly dislocated my right hip. Now I was basically incapable of walking at all. The wheelchair attendant, according to SA policy, left me at the empty gate 2 1/2 hours before my flight, with no wheelchair and no way to move from my seat. (Please note that I do realize that I need extra care and attention in security, and thus I deliberately booked enough time between flights.)

I was ok, until I had to go to the restroom desperately. I yelled over to a couple waiting in the next area. Luckily, they did not think I was insane, and they immediately went to find someone in charge. That person said that SA policy is to abandon disabled people at the gate, without a wheelchair or any way to move from their seat. However, they said that just in this one emergency, they would recall a wheelchair so I could go to the restroom.

I waited, in increasing agony and distress, for a half an hour, but no one showed up. My dilemma–do I soil the only clothes I have on the inside –and thus wallow in my misery and soil for a 15 hour flight–or do I make my clothes filthy on the outside by crawling on the ground to the restroom, which was only 200 feet away? Not willing to make other passengers suffer, I asked the couple to watch my bags and started crawling. As the floor tile was slick, I dislocated my right shoulder while moving my body one painful arm length at a time. I was half way there when the wheelchair attendant showed up–about an hour after my first frantic call for help. Now I was in the middle of the hallway, with no way to get into the chair. We grabbed a box and I hauled myself up, dislocating my right elbow in the process. Finally, success. I made it to the bathroom and the inside of my clothes were clean for the flight.

Thus, by the time I got to the Jo-berg flight, I had a dislocated knee, hip, shoulder, and elbow on my right side. This made the 15-hour flight almost unbearably painful.

However, Thulani Slamini and Emmanual Tryane of Swiss port (073-466-8515) met me at the Jo-berg airport. They saw how exhausted and how much pain I was in. They did not abandon me, but they stayed with me to make sure I actually got on the correct shuttle to the hotel. They made it possible for me to recover–without their help, I would have collapsed and been vulnerable to any kind of crime. Please thank them profusely and sincerely. They did note that they were not supposed to stay with someone that long. Please understand that their doing so may well have saved me from a prolonged hospital stay and indeed, may well have saved my life. They deserve a special commendation for their initiative and clear thinking–and their humanity.

Moreover, the next day I continued my journey to Port Elizabeth. Grace left her post and helped me to the handicapped waiting area, where I got help and I was able to wait for my flight in comfort and in close and accessible proximity to a restroom. Please thank her as well. (Grace, last name unknown, manning the premier class ticket line November 23, 2011 at 7:30 am).

Leaving someone abandoned at an airport gate may be your policy, but it is truly unconscionable. Please work with other airlines at other airports to institute a handicapped waiting room for ALL flights at all airports. Thus, we can check in electronically, the airlines know we are there, and we can meet basic human needs. You can even charge an extra fee for this–I’ll gladly pay it!

Deena Larsen


December 24, 2009

Summing up our discoveries about disability access to tiny homes

Filed under: Accessibility,Housing needs — by accessahut @ 9:30 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I have been trawling the web and blog-o-sphere and doing research since August of this year, when we decided we really would take the plunge and live in a tiny house. I am a damn good researcher–I do that for a living. I’ve found tons of stuff on how to build a house, and tons on universal access, and some on tiny houses, and a lot of folks telling us to consider assisted living. But I have not found one single page that combines the terms “tiny house” and “handicap access.”
No such info.

But Lloyd of Shelter Publications is writing a book on tiny houses. And I asked him to include materials on accessibility. And he is going to!! Huzzah!! What a lovely holiday present!

However, he wants our insights into this process. So here is a summary of our blog entries and troubles. Remember, we are not anywhere near the construction field, design field, or even disability field. We just want a home we can LIVE in. And I guess the other problem is that everyone with disabilities is different. We are planning for mobility issues, a mobility dog, oxygen, exhaustion/fatigue, and possible hospital-like intrusions into our happy home. Your (s)mileage may vary.

So… A guided tour. First–who we are and why we are doing this in the first place. (Whew! has it only been 4 months!)

Our thought process has evolved over this time:

  • Realizing that yes, we have problems and we really have to do this. (I can’t walk in a house, MaJe can’t go anywhere without tripping over oxygen, and we need to think out of the box for our long-term care.)
  • Wanting to build a customized trailer house for us. So we made lots of designs and plans and ended up with our design for a completely accessible 10 by 25 foot space—with a guest bedroom/loft
  • Doing a decision worksheet—we re-purposed an employment ADA sheet and applied it to the house. You could create something like this as a way to determine individual needs for a handicap accessible house.
  • Finding to our horror that you can not simply build a tiny house in a caretaker’s backyard in Denver because of the #$%^% code—even with proposed changes!
  • Trying to build and buy to comply with Denver’s zoning and finding out that we could not buy and build on a tiny lot in Denver because Land Costs!and the minimum house size in Denver is 600 sf and we wanted much less.
  • Finding an incredible property in Denver with three existing structures: a larger house (for our caretakers), a tiny house (for us) and a garage!!! (We are still thanking Providence, the Lady, and any other name you care to give the Diety.) But we can’t blog about it because—horrors! We might not get the loan! (Actually, that was the worst time in our entire lives—including cancer and other horrors. We knew it was a rare opportunity and buying now was a nightmare…)
  • Getting a contractor. We did a lot of planning that is not on our blog yet, and our latest missive details a bit of exactly what we are going to do to the house we purchased 2 weeks ago.

  • .

    As we could not find anyone doing this, and I felt betrayed by tiny houses that I couldn’t even get into, we got political:

  • Why Congress should get behind tiny houses
  • What about an entire accessible community? Given the choice between a 10 by 6 room in a nursing home or your own 10 by 15 home—which would YOU choose?
  • Someone out there should advocate for tiny homes for the disabled, and here is why!
  • Letter to disabled advocacy group—never heard back.

    • And then we found these resources and ideas for access. For our notes, we just copied wholesale—but did attribute. So let me apologize in advance for text-stealing and urge you to go to the original sources.

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