Home Modifications: Are They Really Within Reach?
Finding that next home or deciding to remodel an existing home can be exciting for anyone, but for people with disabilities, that task can come with extra costs and considerations. Are there resources out there that can assist with the cost of having those modifications made? The answer is yes! Indiana has two state-run programs that can assist with these concerns. These are Vocational Rehabilitation, commonly referred to as VR, and the Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled or better known as the CHOICE program. While these programs have many similarities, they have one major difference. With the Choice program, there are income guidelines that need to be met. However, with VR, there are no income regulations, but the individual must be employed, or taking steps to secure a working status. This article will focus on steps needed so that VR can assist with home modifications.
For this to work through VR, you must be employed, or working towards gainful employment. An individual must be at least 18 years old and have a physical or mental disability. If you are unsure about your disability, VR can also help you to understand and evaluate your situation. Additionally, the individual must either own the house, or have written permission from the homeowner to have the modifications done. Once eligibility is met, a function capacity evaluation is performed. In this evaluation, a set of tests, practices, and observations are performed to determine if the individual can function in a variety of situations. Most are centered around the ability to be employed inside or outside the home environment. Once the client meets the requirements, then both VR and the client choose vendors and contractors who will evaluate the needs, create a plan, and pick the contractor. After this decision is made, the contractor proceeds to obtain permits to perform the work. Once the modifications are done, a final evaluation will be done.
Although an individual may have a wish-list a mile long, only certain accommodations are acceptable under VR’s guidelines. It is essential that all modifications lead back to the concept of “will the modifications assist the individual in getting to and from training or the work environment”. In general, VR considers the following as standard allowable modifications: automatic front door (sometimes bedroom doors are included), widening doorways and seamless flooring (which are floors without any seams, ridges, or joints).
While most modifications are done inside the house, a few modifications can be accomplished outside the place of residence. For example, Vocational Rehabilitation can assist with making one outside entrance wheelchair accessible. Concrete loading zones can be considered for easier transferring from a wheelchair to the vehicle.
Inside the home, modifications have more flexibility. Kitchen modifications can vary depending on the person’s abilities. For instance, some modifications could include lowered counters and pull-out drawers. Other modifications that are available are lowered overhead cabinets and even specialized stovetops!
In the bathroom, most modifications center around wheelchair users. A roll-in shower, grab bars, transfer assistance, and wheelchair-accessible sinks are two major modifications that can be considered. These modifications, not only promote safety, but also increase the individual’s independence.
Building or remodeling a home can and should be a fun experience for anyone! People with disabilities should not think having modifications done to their home is impossible. Programs are available to assist, not only financially, but also to help navigate the entire process. Of course, there are guideline and rules to follow, but that’s true for anything. Think of it this way: in order to buy a house, usually the individual has to have a steady income. The same line of thinking should be considered with Vocational Rehabilitation. The organization expects the person to be in the workforce, or be in the middle of entering the work arena whether tradition employment or starting a business. So, go ahead and meet their guidelines! The thought of coming home to a fully-accessible home should to be worth the time and effort.
If you or someone you know with a disability is in need of a home modification, please call your local Vocational Rehabilitation office to get started. Portals offers services as an Indiana vendor for VR to manage Home Modification projects. If you are residing in Indiana and have any questions, you can call our office at 317-218-3997.