Whether you’re trying to prepare for a family member coming home with a disability, you need to make accommodations for a disability of your own, or you simply want to make your home more accessible to a loved one with a disability, figuring out where to start can be incredibly difficult. As you look around your home, you see dozens of things that could potentially be a hazard. Where should you start? What steps are most necessary? By beginning with these three key areas, you can improve disabled access within your home and make it easier for the disabled individual to move about independently.
Entrances and Exits
The first key to creating a disability-friendly home is making sure that entrances and exits are easily accessible even from a wheelchair. This includes several steps:
- Create wheelchair ramps at any entrances that have stairs, especially main entrances.
- Ensure that doorways are wide enough for a wheelchair:
- Use low thresholds that the wheelchair can pass over easily.
It’s important to note that the same consideration should be taken for interior doors: they need to be wide, with low or nonexistent transition strips to allow for ease of access throughout the entire house.
In the Bathroom
The next place to focus your attention is the bathroom, where the disabled individual will want to be as independent as possible. There are several simple pieces of equipment that can make those daily tasks easier, including:
- Walk-in tubs that are low to the ground, with nothing to step or roll over, and have bath seats
- Hand grips and grab bars placed appropriately to make it as easy as possible to prevent slips and falls or to aid movement outside the wheelchair
- Sinks with roll-under access to make them more easily accessible from a wheelchair
- Easy-transfer toilets, often raised for easier access
- Plenty of space to turn a wheelchair around in the bathroom
If the kitchen is the heart of your home, you want to make sure that it’s easily accessible to everyone who uses it. Rearranging your kitchen is the first step: the most commonly-used items, including both tableware and cookware, should be the most easily accessible from a seated position. When you’re ready to renovate, you’ll want to:
- Create counters with roll-under access
- Design cabinets with pull-out shelves to make it easier to reach items in the back
- Pull-out work areas
- Appliances that can be operated from the front, not the top
- Sinks that are at the proper level, including easy-to-reach knobs and handles
Creating a disability-friendly home may take some effort, but it’s effort that’s well worth it. As you transform your home, you’ll discover that it’s much easier for the disabled individual to maintain their independence. This means less burden on everyone and more freedom for them: a win for everyone involved!