Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Advocacy for AT

by Shannon Coe, CFILC Program Coordinator

My husband and I are expecting a baby soon, and we had planned to tour the UC Davis Hospital birthing suite where we will be having our baby.  However, it wasn't until I read  “AT on Your Due Date.” that I realized that there were some important questions I never thought about asking the facility. I am a soon-to-be mom with a physical disability, and I did not even think about physical access or the types of AT I would need before and after my delivery.  I assumed all hospitals would be accessible. 

During the birthing suite tour, I looked in the bathrooms and found that none of the rooms were wheelchair accessible nor had AT that would work for me.  All the bathrooms I saw were tiny and had one step to get into the shower.  I needed a bathroom with a roll-in-shower.  Furthermore, the postpartum rooms were small and narrow, which would not have accommodated my wheelchair.  

Shannon at the doctor's office being weighed by an accessible scale
Immediately following the tour, I approached the nurse who led it and asked her if there were birthing suites with roll-in showers.  She shook her head and told me no, that all the rooms are the same size and all the bathrooms have steps. I left the birthing suite realizing I needed to be an advocate for myself.  Fortunately, I had a work contact and colleague that also works for UC Davis and spoke to her about the the lack of physical access in the birthing suites.  This colleague was able to forward my concerns to the department directors at the UC Davis Hospital.  The directors responded  to my concern --finding a birthing suite with more space to accommodate my wheelchair and a roll-in shower.  I then also asked my OBGYN doctor for an accessible scale to monitor my pregnancy weight.  They are now going to provide me with the AT I need at the hospital.

If I had not read Christina’s blog before I visited the birthing tour, my birthing experience may have been different.  I was fortunate to have the time to resolve the physical access and AT issues before I go into labor.  It is important for parents with disabilities to network and share their perspectives on AT resources that would empower independence and advocacy for others. 

Does anyone have a story or resources for parents with disabilities to share with the AT community?  Please enter it in the comment section below.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment. Thanks for sharing.
    Lightweight Wheelchair

    Keep Posting:)