Jan 27, 2012
Liz Thompson testified on Wednesday before the Ways and Means Committee regarding the Livable Tax Credit.
"Thank you, Chairman Beck and members of the House Ways and Means Committee for allowing me to come before you today to testify on HB 332.
My name is Elizabeth Thompson. I’m an MS activist and ambassador for the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.
I’ve had MS since I was 22 and I’m 60 now. I worked outside the home until 2004 when at 53 I went on Social Security Disability due to my MS fatigue and inability to walk any distance.
HB 332 would assist many people with disabilities and older Americans in making their homes more accessible and safer. As you all know, falls by this population are all too common. ER visits, surgeries and physical therapy typically follow. This increases the cost of healthcare and can limit people’s independence.
In the last six years, I’ve fallen more times than I can count. A fall down nine basement steps had the squad transporting me to ER with a broken arm and dislocated shoulder. Last August, the squad transported me again with a head injury requiring stitches.
In between those two falls, I broke both wrists, at different times, both requiring a visit to ER, surgery and physical therapy. The Ohio Buckeye Chapter generously provided home health care each time to assist me while my husband was at work.
In a personal effort to improve my safety and remain ambulatory, since 2004 I have purchased two walkers, a manual wheelchair and various canes. Insurance made it possible for me to have a power chair that is valuable inside and outside to maintain my safe mobility and independence.
Also, to improve accessibility of our home, my husband built a ramp into our home through the garage, steps with a handrail to our patio and added a second handrail on our basement steps. I’m thankful he has the ability to make these modifications or we would have had to hire someone to make these improvements.
While all these tools have helped considerably, our home was built in 1964. The hallways are 36” wide and doorways 30” wide. My power chair is 29” wide and 47” deep (front to back.) Riding my chair in our home is tight and making turns from the hallway into an interior door difficult. To make it possible, the door to the room I use as an office has been removed, yet it is still a challenge. Our bathrooms are still not accessible for using my power chair and very tight with my walker.
People with MS have various issues including visual, balance, numbness, fatigue and cognitive. Most of these can affect mobility. Similar problems often face older Americans.
I urge you to seriously consider the value of HB 332 to help many Ohioans live safer and have the ability to remain in their homes.
Thank you for your time and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have."
The following is coverage provided by Hannah News Service:
Testimony in support to HB332 was given by Elizabeth Thompson, a multiple sclerosis (MS) activist and ambassador for the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society; Sue Hetrick, public policy director for the Ability Center of Greater Toledo; and Paul Jarvis, public policy staff person for the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. Written testimony was submitted by Robert Doersam, vice chair of the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council.
Thompson described the access and mobility challenges she faces in her home which was built in 1964. She said her husband has been able to install a few modifications to help her navigate steps and narrow hallways and doorways.
Hetrick said, “Disability does not discriminate based on age, race or socio-economic status.” She called HB332 “a first step,” and said the goal should be for visitability standards to be mandatory, across-the-board for all new all single family residences.
Jarvis said modifying existing homes is much more expensive than including visitability standards in the original design and construction. He said, “Indirectly, the tax credit offered for new home construction will bring awareness to many homeowners who may have never considered the potential need for accessibility in their own homes, or the impact a lack of access can have on their friends and loved ones.”
Doersam wrote, “[HB332] would provide a significant incentive to homebuilders to update and upgrade at least some of their floor plans, which should be a significant help to the many Ohioans who, like me, would like to age at home.”