The sad truth is that a lot of homes aren’t designed for people with disabilities in mind. This means anyone who develops a disability or has a disabled friend or loved one move in, will have to make some changes to their home. Depending on the property and nature of the disability, these can range from small and relatively inexpensive adaptations to big renovations that require finding extra funds to afford them. These are the places to start when making your home disability accessible.
Especially if you live with or regularly have guests over who are wheelchair users, you need to make sure they can easily get in your home. Many doorways are too narrow to allow wheelchairs to fit through comfortably, so you may need to remove the door frame and call a renovator to widen them. A standard wheelchair is 635mm wide but it’s advised to widen doorways to 900mm so that all types of wheelchair can fit through without causing an issue. Installing a ramp at the front door is essential, too.
Always go for hardwood, laminate or ceramic tiles for the flooring rather than carpet. These are reliable options that shouldn’t wear out too quickly, while they don’t provide the obstructions to wheels that carpets do. Remove any other items that can cause hazards for wheelchair users and those with crutches, such as coffee tables, or place them around the edge of rooms to reduce the chance of an accident.
Most bathrooms aren’t designed for wheelchair or other disabled users. In order for a wheelchair to be able to turn 360 degrees, it needs at least 1500mm of free space. This can be problematic for homes with small bathrooms and increasing the size of the bathroom could be an expensive renovation. An alternative is to add an extension downstairs, allowing you to create a bathroom that is tailored to their disabilities. This also means you don’t have to find a way for them to get upstairs if it’s a struggle anyway.
Modifications and Small Features
For those who only have disabled visitors or non-wheelchair users, there are a few small modifications you can make. Installing handlebar grips at the front door, in bedrooms and the bathroom will make a real difference, as will switching any door knobs to lever handles. Lowering things such as door handles, light switches and curtain pull cords will be appreciated, while if you live with someone who is visually impaired, adding braille signs to furniture and other items should help.
These tips provide a good start for making your home disability accessible, though there are plenty more steps you can take. Once you’ve completed your modifications, it is a good time to review your personal budget if you have had to take out any finance in order to get the work done.
Published by Inder Chauhan