Home is the springboard for community participation. When a home is not fully accessible it presents barriers to people with disabilities that impact their daily lives and may prevent full participation in community living. As part of a collaborative research project on this topic between the RTC on Disability in Rural Communities at the University of Montana and the RTC on Community Living at the University of Kansas, researchers presented information on home usability at the National Association of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (NARRTC) conference in Alexandria, VA.
The NARRTC conference is a meeting of researchers and other professionals in the field of disability and rehabilitation research from across the nation. The title of the presentation was “Life Starts at Home: Home Usability, Health and Community Participation” and it highlighted preliminary findings from the “Health and Home Survey” developed in collaboration with advisors from Centers for Independent Living.
The survey asked individuals to provide information on characteristics of their homes, their experiences within their home, as well as their overall health and participation in community life. Preliminary findings indicated that, while people’s homes contained a variety of barriers, relatively simple home modifications, like installing grab bars in the bathroom, have the potential to increase feelings of safety for people with disabilities and older adults. This analysis is part of a broader intervention aimed at actually addressing some of these needs by increasing home usability for individuals with the goal of positively affect their feelings of safety, their health and ability to participate in their communities.