Very exciting news: as of this week, our outside is officially finished! Unfortunately, it now suffers the same fate of the inside in that it requires some fancy decorating/landscaping and looks a little bare in the meantime. Not that anyone actually cares except me ;)
The first and most important part of the outdoor design was making all three entries accessible. As with everything else, we didn't want it to scream WHEELCHAIR USER LIVES HERE. We chose to do everything outside in concrete because it could be a smooth ride for King and could be uniform in all areas. They worked with the grading of our lot so that we wouldn't have to use railings or ramps of any kinds in the front yard. The front door area is covered, the pathway from the driveway to the front door is slightly inclined, but King can easily manage it even now.
pretend you don't see the garden of weeds begging for attention
The garage is the second entryway that we have made accessible. From the driveway, through the garage and right into the mudroom is a slightly inclined but easily manageable pathway without any stairs.
On the other side of the garage is a pathway to the backyard. It is 4 feet wide because of a few areas where things jut out and would interfere with the required 3 feet to make it an accessible pathway. There is a door from the garage to this path on the side of the house that has a step down. We couldn't make that accessible, but figure it won't be a big deal.
you can see on the fence post there my dad and Jeff tried to make a little string King could use to open the gate since the latch is too high up for him to reach. we'll have to figure that out as he gets older.
At the end of the pathway to the backyard is a junction where you either go down a couple steps to the grass or go to the patio on the left. We mostly just block off this area right now until King is old enough to understand why going down stairs in a wheelchair is a bad idea.
this is the view looking from the front yard and then looking forward from the backyard. we had to use retaining wall there to keep the pathway level. Eventually, that blank space will be landscaped into something pretty.
To get off the patio, I had to cave and allow them to put in a ramp. Again, they played with the grading of the lot a bit so that we wouldn't have to put in railings along it, instead, just some decorative rocks and that's it. For those of us who can use them, there are also stairs. The top of the stairs doesn't have a gate and that's something we are debating as Kingsley has made it perfectly clear that it is his greatest ambition to fly off the patio down the stairs. For now, we push the kids picnic table to the top of the stairs as a barrier. The ramp gives Kingsley access to the grass area where one day we will have the sandbox and
my vegetable garden. Both the stairs and ramp finish at the same point - the gate to the pool.
Here is my lousy photo editing to show the whole back entry, patio, ramp, and all that. I probably should've cleaned up, but I didn't. Sorry about that.
The last part of our accessible yard is the pool. We hemmed and hawed over this for ages. In the end, there were just a few things we did for Kingsley. The first was putting a 3 foot perimetre of concrete, past the edging. The pool cover rolls into the ground, so it's not impeding him in any way. Lastly, we put stairs at both ends as we figured these would one day be something he would be able to get up or down, unlike a ladder. We considered a lift, but had a few adults who use wheelchairs tell us it wouldn't get used. We can add it later if we need to. We also fenced the pool separately, which is something I feel strongly about. The pool gate locks and the kids have had it drilled into them that Rule #1 is that they cannot be within the pool fence without an adult.
in the picture on the right you can see the white strip on the ground where the pool cover hides. that's the deep end, the other pictures are the stairs in the shallow end.
And that's it! Just when I thought I couldn't love my house anymore, I totally do. The kids are so in love with the backyard also, they spend every sunny minute outside now. It is AMAZING to be able to just let King outside with the girls on the patio and know that he can just play and be wherever they are, doing whatever they're doing. I am so happy that we have this house for them to grow up in.