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Changemaker: Woodinville man breaks down barriers for people with disabilities

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MILL CREEK, Wash-- Finding the perfect home can be challenging for any of us. For people with disabilities, getting a place that meets their specific needs is often overwhelming.

Real Estate Broker Barry Long is on a bit of a crusade to help buyers with disabilities find an accessible home.

“Around the country, it’s very difficult to find an accessible home," Long said while showing off a home for sale in Mill Creek. "You can’t go to the big national websites and search accessibility and pull the homes that have accessibility features.”

For him, this work is personal.

“I went from walking to this in one second," Long said while pointing to his wheelchair.

In 1991 he crashed his motorcycle, becoming a paraplegic.

Still, he’s lived a life of “no limits”.  Post injury, Long has gone bungee jumping, skydiving, waterskiing, snow skiing and rolled his wheelchair to the top of tall mountains. It proved to his kids, you could still reach remarkable heights -- even in a wheelchair.

“You can do whatever you want... has kind of become my motto,” Long said of his accomplishments.

But when it came time to find the right home for himself and his family, it was almost 'mission impossible.'

Long said, “I suffered the same thing of trying to find an accessible house. My broker at the time, we went and looked at so many houses. We got to the point we would drive up to the house and then drive out of the driveway because it was obviously not accessible.”

So Barry knocked down more barriers.

“I became a realtor to try to change the system,” he said with a confident smile.

It took years of work and lobbying, but Long convinced the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, where properties are posted, to change how homes are listed.

The standard listing now highlights if there are features that make a home accessible for someone with disabilities. The Northwest MLS becoming the first in the country to do so.

Real Estate Broker Barry Long points out what makes a shower accessible.

“This isn’t just for people with disabilities," Long said. "This is for people with mobility challenges. And it allows them to find the house that they need.”

Fellow realtor Tom Minty teamed up with Long to make it happen.

Minty saying about Long's determination, “He breaks the whole personification of what disability is.”

It's becoming a movement. The MLS in Ohio just added the accessibility features championed by Long and Minty.

The next step – bringing the accessibility features to other MLS listings nationwide and websites like Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com, so everyone searching for a home can easily find a house that right for them.

Long said, "It’s moving. The wave has started. It’s really cool.  Actually, I have goosebumps just thinking about it.”

To nominate a Changemaker, click: Nominate a Changemaker

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