By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Jean Bayles had a dream. The dream was to provide a fully accessible home for rent in Norman. Her brother, Terry Abbott, was injured when he was 15 and has been a quadriplegic since.
Persons with disabilities have all of the same problems and life struggles everyone else has, with the added challenge of dealing with accessibility and other issues related to having a disability, Bayles said.
When a corner lot on Lahoma Street and Acres Avenue became available after a fire destroyed the structure there, Bayles and her husband Jim decided to build a fully accessible home. Now in his 70s, Abbott has a family and has made it through, but Bayles saw how he has struggled.
“He’s an inspiration,” she said. “He was my first visitor when I finished. He got really tearful when he came (to see the new house). We came to Norman 50 years ago and we couldn’t find a home that was accessible.”
Bayles and her family believe the rental property will fill a void in the market, but the project wasn’t about making money.
The 1,450 square foot home has a roomy garage to allow for greater ease of loading and unloading wheelchairs. The doors are all low threshold entries for greater ease and the floors are vinyl plank for ease of movement and care, but look like hardwood.
Outdoor living spaces, including the front porch and back patio are accessible.
Bayles said they tried to follow ADA suggestions when building the home. The kitchen appliances are wheelchair height and the cabinets and counters have toe kicks. The sink basins in the kitchen and bathrooms are shallow, and the taps have single handle controls.
One of the most remarkable features is the range top which Bayles’ son Todd engineered to be lowered to wheelchair height or raised to accommodate various heights of cooks.
“This was an outlay of money we felt like we had to do to make it adaptable for family living,” Bayles said.
Both bathrooms have large, accessible showers and the master bathroom has a deep tub with a wide side to allow ease of seating.
Bayles said the showers have linear drains with a slope so slight it’s nearly undetectable. There are LED lights throughout the house and window to let in the sunlight.
“It’s my design with the help of an architect,” she said. “I spent a fortune on drawers.”
The drawers are fully extendable to allow a full range of sight to the back. Closets have wheelchair accessible height rods and cubbies as well as higher rods for additional storage.
The home is open and airy.
“I wanted them to feel like they were in an upper class home,” Bayles said.
The home has two nice size bedrooms each with a bathroom. Another, smaller room is set up to work as a computer room or home office but could also serve as a child’s room. There will be kickplates on all the doors and the wall joinings have rounded corners to make them easier for a wheelchair to get around.
The thermostat and light switches are placed low on the wall and the electric outlets are placed high — all to make them reachable by wheelchair.
“I want to raise people’s awareness of the need for this,” Bayles said.
The location of the home at 905 N. Lahoma is close to CART access on Acres, and close to the public library and Andrews Park.
“Its not that far to campus,” Bayles said.
It’s also close to Flood Street and would serve a commuter well.
The home is not low income housing and will rent at market value, but Bayles beleives it will find the right tenants soon. Learn more about Jean’s dream home at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 321-6958 for rental and other information.
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