Abstract

This paper examines the experiences of mothers who are wheelchair users in their roles of homemaking and parenting. A qualitative study using in-depth, focused interviews was conducted with a purposeful sample of 11 women with various physical disabilities. Three major themes were uncovered in the data: (a) lived space restricting personal autonomy, (b) advocacy strategies to secure appropriate housing, and (c) my wheelchair, my liberator, my sense of comfort. Findings from this study showed that women did not have the freedom or economic resources to seek out new living arrangements or make modifications to existing environments. Lack of space, stairs, difficult-to-reach spaces, poor transportation, and limited community access were barriers that women experienced. The study also points to the importance of recognizing that the women used many strategies to regain control over aspects of their environment to enable greater autonomy and participation for themselves. Sensitivity to the meaning of home and the relationship between the body and the environmental features that surround it may be a significant contribution of the clinician as he or she seeks to assist women wheelchair users.

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