Why Accessibility Can Be A Matter Of Life Or Death:

CW: Assisted Suicide. 

In Toronto, a woman with disabilities is nearing the end of her life. The woman has chemical sensitivities. The symptoms of which include rashes, breathing difficulties, and blinding headaches known as hemiplegic migraines, which cause temporary paralysis. Cigarette smoke, laundry chemicals, and air fresheners, according to the woman are the substances that make her sick. Because she is at risk of anaphylactic shock, she has EpiPens on her person at all times in case of a life-threatening allergic reaction. In addition, she also uses a wheelchair because of a spinal cord injury. 

The woman has chosen to end her life with the assistance of a physician after failing to find accessible, safe housing. She desperately wants to move into a safe apartment. However, her only income is from Ontario’s Disability Support Program. Her monthly allowance is $1,169, plus $50 for a special diet. She cannot find housing that is safe and affordable. 

The woman requires “immediate relocation for her safety,” according to one of her doctors, Dr. Riina Bray, medical director of the Environmental Health Clinic at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. She has chosen to end her life, because she lives in poverty due to her disabilities.

This story is heartbreaking to me as a disabled person. We should not live in a world where it is easier to be approved for assisted suicide than it is to find accessible, safe, housing. It means that society lacks enough resources for disabled people which leaves them with no other option. No disabled person should struggle to find safe and accessible housing.

Unfortunately, accessible housing is hard to find in America too. In February of 2020, Apartment List conducted a study using data from the American Community Survey and the American Housing Survey. The study found that only 9% of households with a disabled member live in an accessible home. Only 6% of homes in the United States are accessible, even though more than 15% of households include a physically disabled member.

We need to take care of disabled people around the world. I am hoping that this woman’s story will serve as a way of developing more accessible, affordable housing options for all people with disabilities worldwide. It saddens me that this woman has chosen assisted suicide due to Ontario’s lack of resources for Canadians with disabilities.

Sources:

Favaro, Avis. “Woman with Disabilities Nears Medically Assisted Death after Futile Bid for Affordable Housing.” CTVNews, CTV News, 30 Apr. 2022, https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/woman-with-disabilities-nears-medically-assisted-death-after-futile-bid-for-affordable-housing-1.5882202.

Warnock, Rob. “How Accessible Is the Housing Market?” Apartment List , Apartment List, 19 February, 2020, http://www.apartmentlist.com/research/how-accessible-is-the-housing-market.

3 comments

  1. Your writings are very impressive I am a fellow disability advocate and blogger myself would you be interested in doing some kind of collaboration?

  2. Thank you for writing this blog about the mcsers problem. So many people with skin, head/muscle pain, respiratory etc can benefit from clean chemical free air and better designed buildings.

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