Don and Donna Shiflet's story helps us understand who to include in "design that's usable by all people."

And not just in Mcgaheysville, Virginia, but anywhere.

Donna had treatment for cancer back in the 1970s and experienced gradual loss of mobility over the past 15 years due to the radiation not being as pinpointed as it should have, plus additional back surgeries and aging caused permanent changes. Her diagnosis was called Post Radiation Plexopathy and she eventually became a paraplegic. She went from using canes, to walkers and scooters, to eventually a power chair.

Her husband, Don, is the primary person who helps her take care of things when she needs assistance. They had time to adjust to the changes as her progression was gradual; however, their life experience has given them a great perspective in speaking into what is needed for increased independence at home and in the community.

Location: Mcgaheysville, Virginia, United States


Watch the interview:

Notable quotes from the interview:

I’m a retired school teacher, I’m a home maker, and I’m a mother, a wife, and a grandmother. -Donna

I’m retired, a grandfather, a husband, a caregiver, landscaper, horse groom, civic activist and church activist. -Don

I can go somewhere with a group of people and do something for two or three days in a row all day long, or on trips those types of things. They wear me out, so. I’m limited in how much I can do. -Donna

It’s just all kinds of obstacles that I’ve run into in public places. I have to be very selective. And you can’t do things you’d like to do in your friend’s homes anymore if you can’t get into their homes. Now, if they have a one step area in the garage or in front, I have a portable ramp we can take and get in, but there again, not everybody has that, so. You can’t do a progressive dinner, because you may not go to all the homes, or wedding shower for somebody, or those types of things are held in private homes. Often means I can’t go. -Donna

Yeah, both of us are very social enjoy friends and family so we’re making an effort to get that done.

Generally speaking we’re fairly aggressive in initiating social things. -Don

We, we did RVing. We had a small recreational vehicle when she initially was still able to use a walker and get around with some help. Motor homes that are very accessible are few and far between, and they’re very expensive, and you can’t rent them. -Don