Suburban business makes homes more accessible

October 27, 2011 (THORNTON TOWNSHIP, Ill.)

Thornton Township has a home modification program that has the support of an experienced builder who not only understands creative additions but also budget.

It took Accessible Living Solutions 12 hours to build a 132-foot ramp for Lena Skinner.

"It's the biggest that we've ever done," said president and owner Bill Wheeler. "It's 132 feet long, and when we first came here, I didn't think we would be able to build the ramp because the vertical platform lifts go up 70 inches, this ramp is 72 inches up, but we had to go 132 feet...we went around the entire west side of the home."

Wheeler understands the importance of making homes accessible.

"I have a son with cerebral palsy, and my father lost his mobility during his illness as well, so this is a personal mission for me," Wheeler said. " We want to get the people that need the modifications."

Ramps are not the only thing they do.

"We do ADA compliant modifications for person with disabilities, wheelchair ramps, platform lifts, stairs lifts, a grab bar, anything that's going to make life easy for someone with a disability," said Wheeler. "Independence and mobility have a major impact on our life and we're just trying to help out."

The biggest challenge is staying within the budget. Thornton Township only pays $3,000 per project.

"Anything beyond the $3,000 would be the responsibility of the home owner. Very seldom does a project come in over that," said Wheeler."

However, Skinner's did. The total cost was $5,000.

"But between her medical bills and everything, it's a financial hardship having a disability, and it was basically either she came up with the $2,000 or she didn't get the ramp, and I didn't have the heart to tell her that she couldn't get it done," Wheeler said.

"Before we built the ramp she had not been able to exit her home since the previous August, so we paid the balance of the $2,000 for her to get the ramp."

Thanks to Accessible Living Solutions and Thornton Township, Skinner, who has multiple disabilities, is able to leave her home independently.

"I felt so much better, so much better," Skinner said. "Oh, I can't cry no more. I cried being glad that I can come out and I can go to the grocery store. I can go anywhere I want to go now....I just can't thank them enough."

If you live in Thornton Township and are in need of making your home or apartment accessible, go to the websites of Thornton Township's Home Modification Program and Accessible Living Solutions.

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