Accessible homes are essential for differently-abled people to maintain their independence and quality of life. If you or someone you know has a disability, mobility issues, or limited dexterity, your house may present some challenges. You can overcome these challenges with the following tips that’ll help you make your home more accessible.
Create a safe and accessible bathroom
Having a safe bathroom is crucial for everyone. To achieve this, start by installing grab bars next to and inside the tub or shower and next to the toilet to provide support. These grab bars can support someone’s weight when getting in and out of the shower or tub or while sitting on the toilet.
You can also opt for a walk-in tub as it can provide differently-abled people with a more comfortable bathing experience. The door allows easy access, and the grab bars provide support and stability. Finding a walk-in tub near you is no problem, as many companies provide such services. You can look up walk-in tub installation company near me on the internet to find and contact a contractor.
Make the doorways and hallways wider
By creating more space and making it easier to move around, you can help everyone in your home to move more freely and independently. Aim for at least 32 inches of clear space, which allows most wheelchairs to maneuver easily. Remove any narrow doorways, tight corners, or awkward turns by making relevant structural changes.
For the hallways, remove any protruding trim, cabinets, or decor that narrow the path. Replace round knobs or handles on doors and drawers with lever handles that are easy to grasp.
Once widened, doorways and halls should allow free movement for people with mobility aids or limited flexibility. Double-check that any rugs or mats have non-skid backing.
Improve the lighting
Improving the lighting in important areas of your home and providing options to adjust brightness levels will make a big difference in accessibility, safety, and comfort. Do the following:
- Open blinds and curtains daily to let in as much natural light as possible. Consider installing more oversized windows or skylights if needed.
- Overhead lighting, like recessed or track lighting, provides the most even, shadow-free illumination. Place fixtures every 8-10 feet to ensure adequate coverage.
- Add task lighting on the floor and table lamps with three-way bulbs for focused activities like reading. Position them on either side of chairs and work surfaces.
- Use bulbs emitting warm, yellow light rather than harsh, white light. Choose diffused or frosted bulbs to reduce glare.
- Install dimmer switches so people can adjust the brightness.
Choose easy-to-use appliances and fixtures
When choosing appliances and fixtures for an accessible home, opt for ones with simple, intuitive controls and handles. Look for:
- Lever handles or touch-activated faucets rather than knobs can be challenging to grasp and turn
- Appliances with large, high-contrast control panels featuring raised buttons or Braille markings
- Switches with large paddles that are easy to flip on and off
- Drawer pulls, cabinet knobs, and door handles that are easy to grip and pull open
- A front-loading washer and dryer, as they are easier to load and unload compared to top-loading models
Replace steps with ramps
Steps can be difficult or impossible for some people to navigate, especially those using mobility aids like wheelchairs, scooters, or walkers, so you can consider installing a ramp instead. The ramp should have the following:
- A gentle slope no greater than 1 inch of rise for every 12 inches of ramp (1:12 ratio)
- Handrails on both sides for support and safety
- A non-slip surface with traction for all weather conditions
- Adequate width for mobility devices – at least 36 inches is recommended
Installing a ramp may require permits, so check with your local building department. If a full ramp isn’t possible, look into portable ramps. These ramp sections can be assembled and disassembled as needed and may not require permits. They provide a temporary solution with the same safety considerations.
Make the kitchen more accessible
Keep appliances within easy reach. Place frequently used items like the microwave, coffee maker, and toaster on the counter or pull-out cabinets at an accessible height.
You should also replace existing handles with lever handles or touch controls. Round doorknobs and controls can be challenging to grasp. Lever handles and touch controls are easier for those with limited mobility or dexterity.
Wheelchair users and those with walkers need open room to maneuver. Keep walkways in the kitchen at least 3 to 4 feet wide and doorways at 32 inches wide. Also, lowered countertops at a height of 34 to 36 inches are easier for wheelchair users to use.
Consider furniture placement
Making simple changes to the layout and placement of furniture in your home can make a big difference in accessibility and usability. Consider how someone with limited mobility may navigate the space when arranging your furniture. Place frequently used items within easy reach, i.e., about waist high. This includes light switches, thermostats, phones, remotes, and commonly used kitchen items.
Consider the path of travel between rooms and spaces. Ensure walkways are wide enough for a wheelchair or walker to pass through easily. Look for any potential obstacles that could be tripping hazards, like rugs, cords, or uneven flooring. Secure them or move them out of the main pathways.
In seating areas, leave ample space for wheelchairs to pull up or turn around. Arrange furniture so it’s easy to walk around and there are no tight squeezes.
In the bedroom, ensure there is enough floor space for medical equipment like wheelchairs, walkers, or lift chairs. Install grab bars, especially near the bed and toilet, to make transfers and mobility easier. Consider a bed with an adjustable base that can raise the head and foot for greater comfort.
An accessible home benefits everyone. You never know when mobility issues may temporarily or permanently impact you or a loved one. Why not make your home ready for whatever life may bring? Installing accessibility upgrades is a kind and thoughtful thing too. Get started today and make your house a home for all.