Down But Not Out! 10 Independence Tips For The Disabled

Here’s the truth: we can no longer sweep disability issues under the carpet. Even if we are lucky never to be involved in an accident, we will all grow old. Many of us are already battling these issues with elderly parents who need special care.

It is easy to assume that it is nice to be taken care of by others, but anyone who has a disability will tell you that their greatest wish is to be independent. Being able to do simple everyday tasks such as bathing, moving around, using the toilet, getting dressed are things that are usually taken for granted.

Making certain modifications in the home may be necessary to help the disabled continue to have a good quality of life. Here are some tips:


From a seated position, windows need to be lower by 6 inches to allow easier access.


Ramps must be at a ratio gradient of 1:12 for comfortable use. Ramps that are too steep can be dangerous as the wheelchair may topple over from the back, causing severe injuries.


The toilet seat has to be at a height of 32 inches, slightly higher than normal toilet seats.


Sliding doors save space and makes it easier for a wheelchair-bound person to navigate his way in and out.


Standard door sizes are about 30-32 inches. Homes with wheelchair use need doors that are between 36-40 inches wide for easier access.


Ramps at sliding doors help wheelchairs to slide up and down easily.


Technology is a great help for the disabled. Fans, lights, gates and front doors can be automated through remote controls for added convenience.


Mounting the hose stand at arm’s reach makes it easier for them to help out with household chores such as water the plants or hose the floors. The same applies to electrical sockets in the house.


Lower than usual kitchen counter allows Rina Kaur to cook, clean and perform her usual duties as wife, mother and grandmother.


A special clutch and steering knob makes it possible to drive using the hands only. According to Francis Siva, the cost of modifications cost between RM2500-RM3000. Prior to that, the car needs to be inspected by PUSPAKOM and approved by JPJ to be fit for disabled driving. The approval papers are important because it will affect insurance claims in the event of an accident.

Resource Centre For The Disabled

The Independent Living & Training Centre (ILTC) in Rawang is founded by husband-wife team, Francis Siva, 53, and Gurdip Rina Kaur, 50, who are both wheelchair-bound. The centre provides training for people with disabilities to equip them with the skills to live independently, such as computer knowledge, cooking, sewing, using a wheelchair or motorcycle and driving a modified car.

Siva also provides advice on practical matters such as making SOCSO and insurance claims, job placements, how to go about car and home modifications and other necessary legalities. The centre runs on public and corporate donations to maintain their operations. For details, please contact 03-6093 6292, email: or visit

Dancing On Wheels!

31-year-old Murugan Mariapan, who used to work as a security officer in Singapore , lost both his legs in a motorcycle accident in 2010 and have been wheelchair-ridden since. “I tried to commit suicide at the hospital when I woke up to find myself without legs. It took me a whole year to get over the trauma,” he recalls.

The former Tamil-language emcee and entertainer found new hope when he got to know Siva from the Independent Living & Training Centre. “I discovered that I wasn’t alone and that I can still live despite my disability. Siva taught me how to ride the special motorcycle, drive a car, manipulate my wheelchair correctly and develop social skills. These skills gave me back my confidence and I’m now ready to start a new life.”

The cheerful young man demonstrated how he can now manoeuvre himself with ease on his wheels and even did some dancing stunts. Murugan has vision now: get a new job, be financially independent, perhaps find love and settle down like others.

His story bears testimony to the resilience of the human spirit. Nothing can keep you down in life, unless you choose to let it!

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