Chicago family sued by Old Town Association for wanting to make their home accessible for their disabled daughter

Ava, Old Town Resident with some classmates.

Ava, Old Town Resident with some classmates.

Chicago family sued by Old Town Association for wanting to make their home accessible for their disabled daughter

Ableism: disability rights are human rights

As a fellow Chicago resident that’s a disability advocate, this hit close to home. I was sent an article today about a family who lives in Old Town, Chicago that is currently getting sued for wanting to add on a accessible garage to their historic home for their daughter who uses a wheelchair.

Old town is known for it’s historic homes and landmarks, some that predate the Chicago Fire. Because of this, there are certain rules & codes you have to follow when you own a historic house. The Deakin’s own a house that was built in 1891, meaning these rules apply to them. Knowing this, the Deakin’s filed a permit and was subsequently granted access to build a two-car garage addition onto their home that’s accessible for their daughter Ava, who uses a wheelchair. The Old Town residents and association are outraged by this, saying that building the garage that’s accessible for their daughter is “damaging the historical integrity of the area.”

Despite getting the approval to add their accessible garage extension to their home, residents are out for blood.

The Deakin family was served with a lawsuit regarding their addition.

As a disability advocate, I’m clearly biased and think this is complete ableist BULLSHIT. However, I’m going to try to explain this as non-biased as I can.

I understand there’s a historical essence to Old Town that needs to be preserved. So because of this, disabled people & their families can’t have the same opportunity to live in a historic house because it might need modifications? Say a family moved into this house knowing the rules and didn’t intend on renovating it. One day, someone that lives in the home gets into a car accident and becomes disabled. We’re supposed to uproot this family because... historic integrity? 

I think the question we need to ask ourselves is what’s more important: human rights or historic integrity? 

To me and I’d hope any clearly thinking person, the answer is clear. 


Disability rights are human rights and equal access is something that has not yet been caught on by society, which is clear by the actions being taken by Old Town Association and residents. Suing a family who wants their daughter’s life to be more accessible because of “historic integrity” is discrimination if I’ve ever seen it.

Inclusion is such an essential part of society’s understanding of disability & the actions being taken against this family are an example of the ableism plague. Put yourself in this family’s shoes and think about how you would feel if your neighbors treated you in such a negligent way. 

We must end this plague. Stand with inclusion & against ableism.

Instagram: wheelchair_rapunzel

Alex DzimitowiczComment