Page 7 - CSS Journal February 2017
P. 7

Above: An ar st at work in Davids vast Basement
avoid annoying the neighbours. “One of the nicest things is in the hallway where there is a double height ceiling with speakers on the ground floor and the upper floor. The acous cs there are beau ful. That first night I was in the house on my own, I said to Tommy, who is my best friend and carer, go home at seven, come back at nine. I had two
hours with my iPad on my lap, turning lights on, going up and down in the li , and I discovered Freddie Mercury’s Barcelona, and I listened to it there, by the front door and it brought a tear to my eye. I’d done it. Words can’t describe the freedom that I felt.”
“A great example was my first experience of using a disabled toilet. How is someone in a wheelchair supposed to open one of those doors?” he asks, wheeling himself over to take the handle of one of his own automa cally controlled doors. With his other hand he tries to wheel backwards to open the door. Instead his chair immediately swivels on its free wheel, thus demonstra ng how most public disabled lavatories are inaccessible to disabled users. The solu on, he says, is simple. “Put every door on a two-way hinge. Why not? I understand that I never thought of this un l I was in the chair. But I’m in the chair now, so I’m going to say something about it.” “There’s a bloody restaurant in Leigh- on-Sea that’s got a disabled toilet up four steps.”
Of course, no modern bachelor pad is complete without a home cinema in the basement, with bar and star-lit ceiling; but perhaps the most important room in the house is his bedroom.
own house, at  mes David felt he was at the mercy of some of his contractors. The memory of delays, disagreements, and failure to properly finish the job has le  a bi er taste. Throughout the process he did his best to get the builders to see things literally from his point of view, even insis ng on a wheelchair being present on site, and that anyone who was about to install a fi ng should sit in it before they did so. “They didn’t actually use it, but that was what I told them to do, and it was there to remind them.”
Disability awareness is now firmly in David’s sights. He says on leaving hospital he made a conscious decision not to accept a world that constantly and unnecessarily made disabled people feel their disability.
home, David recognises the distance between his situa on and that of most other people with severe disabili es. But, he says, its not just a ques on of money, but just a lack of thought. “I am not ashamed of being disabled, but why should somebody with a disability have to have a second-class product?” For example, most wheelchairs have to be custom built for people with his level of disability. His, like any other, cost more than £4,500. It is made of heavy-looking black tubing, and grey panels. “Look at it. Why is that not designed properly? Why is it not aesthe cally pleasing?” Not only are they ugly, many items produced for disabled people are well over-priced, he says. “Because you need it, they charge what they want for it.” He wheels over to his kitchen drawer. “Do you know how much it is to buy a fork that I can use? Let me show you this.” He pulls out the fork, and comes back to the table. The handle has a thick rubber grip to it. “This makes me sick. Think of all the people who are on disability living allowance, £150 per week, and they lose their fork. £12 a fork, and its just a bit of rubber stuck on a normal fork. There is nothing to that, which someone can’t knock up for 50 pence. If you are going to charge them, then design it properly, make it so they don’t feel disabled when using a fork.”
Above: Arron Williams, David Holmes and Chris Yeates, the cast of ‘Life A er A Spinal Cord Injury’ a Podcast Series.
“IlovethefactthatIcangotobedat night and feel safe. I can check my cameras and turn everything off. If I hear a noise I can turn a light on, and check a camera. I have never had that before. I didn’t have that in hospital. There you have to bite down on a buzzer for someone to come and help you.”
Si ng in the midst of his highly- designed and expensively finished
At this point ideas come tumbling out, ideas that are about the applica on of exis ng technology to accomplish simple tasks, which otherwise pose massive problems for those who cannot help themselves.
Not everything on the project went to plan. Like many people who build their

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