Have you ever dug a rabbit hole for yourself?
That’s exactly what happens when I get started on research or investigative projects related to universal design and accessibility.
It. Never. Ends.
I keep finding more fun surprises the further I dig and then I load up my treasure box.
My passion in universal design, accessibility and even sustainability is the backbone to my voice in educating and advocating for inclusive environments. My most recent hunt was not just digging for facts and statistics on residential homes and why we need universal design in all new construction and remodeling projects, but how about vacation homes?
Have you struggled trying to find something for the entire family? I have written about our stay at an incredibly, thoughtfully designed hotel in West Palm Beach and now I’m writing about a small beachfront condo in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Disclaimer, we have not stayed in this condo but we have visited Cape Cod and it was quite the memorable getaway, especially spectating a pod of whales putting on a show.
First things first, please note when searching VRBO by selecting the filter “accessible,” this does not always hold the term true. After a little investigation, I have found several homes that were selected as “accessible” (you know, with the standard wheelchair icon), but there were still steps to enter the home and none of the photos presented other signs of accessibility features in the home. Some even had an elevator and while that is a unique and very thoughtful design piece inside the home to access all levels, there were still steps to enter the home. I reached out to a few to ask more questions as I am keeping a list for family and friends.
While we should always appreciate even the baby steps toward access for all, we can at least make the search easier for families to invite grandma on vacations or a place that promotes flexibility and an ease of use for a little one who uses a walker or wheelchair to get around. Who doesn’t look forward to vacations, especially with family and friends?!
Back to this amazing rental in Cape Cod. This unit was renovated in 2018 transformed into an incredible accessible rental from the car, throughout the first level and to the beach. There is a small ramp to enter the condo in the back from the car and another one to access the beach on the front. They even provide a beach track or mat for ease of mobility into the sand.
Above and Beyond Amenities
Did I say BEACHFRONT? Would you believe a floating beach wheelchair and a shower chair is included?! The first floor is intentionally designed for accessibility which includes a bedroom with an adjustable queen size bed (makes it easier for transferring) and a bathroom with a roll in shower (also known as a curbless shower). The owners intended for the first floor to be fairly open with minimal clutter for gathering and hanging out. The goal is for an entire family to enjoy a beach vacation together. This is place is certainly a rare retreat.
The Inside Scoop
As I mentioned, I dig myself a rabbit hole and one of the cool treasures discovered on this search is that this condo is owned and listed by an organization called, SMILE Mass. Co-founders, Lotte Diomede and Susan Brown, both have children with disabilities, so you can imagine the passion behind their mission. They also loan equipment and donate about 20 floating beach wheelchairs annually to public beaches! Be sure to check out their programs and the impact they’re making!