By Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.
On June 13, 1998, my husband Mark Leder and I went for a bicycle ride on a rural wooded bike trail in Granville, OH. After riding for a few minutes, Mark thought he heard a gunshot and slowed down to investigate. As he scanned the scene he saw a large tree falling. He shouted, “Stop!” But the warning was too late. Instantly, I was crushed by a 7,000 pound tree and paralyzed from the waist down.
Coming home from the hospital in a wheelchair in July 1998 after my T12-L1, spinal cord injury, I realized how my home intensified my disability. My husband and I knew that we had to sell our home and find something more suitable.
Designing and Building the Universal Design Living Laboratory
My husband is 6'4" tall while I am 4'1" seated in my wheelchair. Our heights and reaches were factors in the home design so that we were both accommodated.
In September of 2004 we hired architect, Patrick Manley to draw the house plans for our new home. In January 2005 we hired kitchen and bath designer and internationally renowned universal design specialist Mary Jo Peterson.
We hired Robert August in October 2005 to help us with branding, marketing, and contacting international and national corporations to partner with us by contributing products and services.
Mark and I bought an acre and a half lot in December of 2006. We broke ground on September 23, 2009. In addition to being accessible, universal design and green building construction principles were followed. We received the highest levels of certification from three universal design national certification programs.
We acquired 214 contributors and had hundreds of people volunteer to help us. Our home could not have been built without their support. Mark and I have personally funded the Universal Design Living Laboratory and served as the general contractors.
On May 18, 2012 we moved into our new home.