9 Ways to Create a Handicap Accessible Home
How Can I Make My House More Wheelchair Accessible?
A wheelchair accessible space can allow people with disabilities to live safely and comfortably on their own. Whether you're looking to make your home more accessible, or you're looking for a wheelchair accessible apartment, follow these tips to ensure your living space is wheelchair accessible.
1. Install a Wheelchair Accessible Entrance
There are various portable ramps on the market, and you can likely find a wheelchair accessible ramp for your home. If you’re looking for more permanent options, consider purchasing a residential ramp or building a ramp.
2. Doorways- What is Handicap Accessible Door Width?
A person using a mobility aid will need ample space in doorways. Standard accessible doorways are 32 inches wide. Widening doorways can be expensive but may be necessary to make a home wheelchair accessible. If you're looking for cheaper ways to widen a doorway, you may be able to add hinges to the door to make it swing clear of the entryway.
Keep in mind that Round doorknobs can be difficult to open. To make it easier for those with mobility impairments, install lever door handles for more accessibility.
3. Open Floor Plans and Open Space
Open space is important for those using mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers. In most areas, you'll want to ensure a minimum of a 5-foot turn radius so a mobility aid user can make a 360-degree turn without running into obstacles like walls and doorways.
4. Accessible Kitchens
Follow these tips to make your kitchen accessible:
Lower storage spaces: Your kitchen likely has lower storage space already built in. You can quickly and easily make your kitchen more accessible by moving frequently used items to lower storage locations.
Purchase ADA-compliant appliances: An ADA -compliant range features oven and stove controls on the front of the appliance, so a person using a mobility aid does not have to reach over a hot stovetop. Several household appliances are built with disabled people in mind. Check out General Electric’s ADA-compliant appliances to find accessible household appliances.
Lower countertops: Counters designed for those who can stand present a challenge to many people with disabilities. Wheelchair users often cannot reach the surface or sit level with the counter. Consider lowering countertops in both kitchens and bathrooms.
- Keep open space underneath sinks: With open space, wheelchair users can roll up to and underneath sinks. Having space underneath sinks should be considered for kitchens and bathrooms.
5. Accessible Bathrooms
When creating a handicap accessible bathroom, a few considerations should be made to ensure safety:
Accessible showers: Roll-in and curbless showers provide safe, step-free access to those using mobility aids. You can also install a channel drain for added accessibility.
Grab rails: Grab rails with wall reinforcements should be installed in key locations like around a toilet or shower. Be sure to install grab rails properly. An improperly installed grab rail is just as dangerous as no grab rail at all.
- Shower chairs and shower benches: A shower chair or shower bench may be needed for handicap accessible showers. Temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent options are available to meet a variety of needs.
If there are stairs in the home, consider adding a stairlift so those with mobility disabilities can access all areas of the home. Hardwood floors are easier for wheelchair users to navigate and create less of a tripping hazard for those using other mobility aids. Hardwood floors can be expensive, but other options, like laminate or tile could also be installed.
8. Wheelchair Accessible Closets
Closet rods and shelving tend to be too high for wheelchair users. To make them more accessible, lower closet rods and shelving to be at a reasonable height for a wheelchair.
9. Outdoor Spaces
Grass, cobblestone, and brick are commonly found in front and back yards. These surfaces can be hard to navigate for those using mobility aids and can pose a risk for injury. In order to make an outdoor space more accessible, consider installing wood or concrete patio and deck areas.
Make sure that you're fully able to accommodate a disability, both in your home and in your car. Much of life is spent either in your vehicle or in your home, and everyone deserves to be comfortable in both places. If you’re looking to create a more accessible home, check out our other articles on accessible living.