5 Tips to Make Your Home Handicap Accessible
According to the U.S. Census taken in 2010, nearly 1 in 5 Americans surveyed lived with a disability, including roughly 30.6 million people who had trouble walking or climbing stairs. Most of us can expect to face some degree of disability if we live long enough, because elderly Americans were disproportionately represented among the disabled. Smart home design can make a huge difference in mitigating the effects of a disability, allowing those with a physical handicap to perform ordinary activities with greater ease. Five ways to make your house more handicap accessible:
1. Rethink the tub: Ordinary bathtubs can be dangerous to step into and out of, and totally out of the question for someone in a wheelchair. Replacing a tub with a shower is a common change to make bathrooms more accessible for those with limited mobility. Adding grab bars and a hand-held shower head will help to make the shower suitable for anyone.
2. Level it out: Also dangerous for those with limited mobility are high thresholds; random steps on a single level, such as to an entryway; and plush carpeting. Eliminate as many of these hazards as possible by lowering the thresholds at doorways and installing wide, gently sloping ramps at any steps that cannot be removed. Carpet should have pile no more than one-half inch thick, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design.
3. Make it wider: To accommodate a wheelchair, doorways should be at least 32 inches wide. Hallways should be at least 36 inches wide, to allow room for a wheelchair to turn around. Assess space in the bathroom as well to make sure there is room to properly maneuver around the sink and toilet. Similar clearances should be measured in the kitchen as well.
4. Put it in reach: For those who have trouble reaching up or bending down, having items placed in high cabinets or low to the ground may make ordinary tasks impossible. According to the designers at Sea Pointe Construction, rearranging items in cabinets or closets to put them within reach is an easy fix. You may want to lower electrical switches or raise outlets to make them more easily accessible as well.
5. Improve the lighting: Making sure that lighting is bright consistently throughout your home will not only help those suffering from any visual impairments, but also reduce the risk of someone tripping over a hazard they didn’t see. Consider matte finishes for walls and flooring to eliminate any possible glare.
For someone living with a disability, making these kinds of changes can mean the difference between living independently and struggling with everyday tasks. Remodeling your home to fit the physical needs of all its occupants is about more than getting around—it’s about creating good quality of life for the people you love.