Adapting homes to make them disability-friendly

November 3, 2013 (CHICAGO)

There are creative solutions for adapting your homes. It just takes the right team to make it happen -- like it did for the Evans' family.

Joan Evans and her husband have four children. The 20-year-old triplets have cerebral palsy.

"Varying degrees of cerebral palsy. They were born three months premature, and about almost a year old, we got the diagnosis that each one of them had cerebral palsy," Joan said.

The Evans family bought its suburban home 18 years ago.

"It's a ranch, which is what we were looking for. So, we grew as the children grew and their needs were more -- needing more accessibility. That's when we had to make some changes," said Joan.

The biggest challenge was the bathroom.

"It was two bathrooms, but one had the full bath with the bathtub. Bathrooms were very tiny. The boys would have to step over the bathtub to get into the bathtub to take a shower or bath. Putting Meredith, we have to carry her and put her in the bathtub and then take her out. It was getting a little harder for us and our backs as she got older," Joahn said.

In January 2010, modifications were made.

"We're able to stand as she is in her shower chair. The boys feel more secure. They're safe in here with the grab bars," said Joan.

Jason Lafleur is an educational consultant for Alliance for Environmental Sustainability. It's a not-for-profit group that educates contractors on universal designs.

"I think this is a great example. One of the biggest request for adaption is with bathrooms. People have a lot of issues with them and often a sore spot for people that have special needs," Jason said.

"That should be the safest room in the house," Joan said.

"It's so important that these professionals that you re hiring be knowledgeable in how to make it an accessible bathroom. Not everybody knows this," said Jason. "Twenty percent of the population has some kind of special needs, and with our aging population and people with all kinds of varying abilities and special needs, there's a very big need for people to take existing homes like this one and make them more adaptable for all kinds of people."

To learn more about Alliance for Environmental Sustainability go to

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.