How to Adapt Your Home for Wheelchair Accessibility
The way standard homes are built and designed makes it hard to move around as a wheelchair user. When you need to take care of the elderly, to recover from injury, or deal with a permanent condition, the home should be adjusted to be wheelchair accessible. Some adaptations can be done with a small effort on your part, while others require the installation of more complex systems. Here are some things to have in mind.
Start With Ramps
Homes come with raised thresholds, steps, staircases and other raised surfaces which are hard and even impossible to reach for wheelchair users. Luckily, ramps are a convenient and safe way to provide appropriate access. With the help of the different types of disability ramps, multilevel interiors can be flattened out to provide a smoother transition from room to room.
Access ramps can be for indoor and outdoor use, depending on the material you pick. If you need a ramp for indoor use, make sure that it’s made of non-corrosive material to resist the weather better. Their range in terms of size is from half a meter to 2.5 meters. The shorter ramps usually have a handle near the centre folding. Make sure you get a ramp for disabled person that has a non-skid surface for better grip and to increase safety.
Most ramps have a load capacity of around 270 kg, so they will work fine even under the weight of an electric mobility scooter. You can also get a foldable ramp for disabled person that can be neatly stored when not needed or easily transported in a car. Such a portable ramp can come in very handy when you need to travel and stay for a while at a different location and aren’t sure whether it’s wheelchair-accessible.
Introduce Rails in the Interior
Wheelchair users would appreciate having an extra handrail to grab for support when they need to get out of the wheelchair. This is important in areas such as the toilet, around the bathtub, along corridors and other places that are frequented often. Consider the person’s everyday patterns of movement and activity to select the best placement for such rails. You can always upgrade or further modify the railing system. Having sturdy and easy-to-grip rails in place is crucial for preventing home fall injuries.
Modify Doors and Cabinets
One of the primary actions that you can take to ease access is getting rid of doorknobs. They pose a host of unnecessary complications for wheelchair users. And doors can be designed in other ways too. One of them is the traditional way barn doors used to open – sideways. Going left to right (or vice versa) might be way easier for a disabled person.
And if this option is not suitable as well, then you can turn to modern technology. Nowadays, it’s fairly easy to upgrade your door so that it can be remotely controlled. With the help of sensors and WiFi electronics, you can open and close doors at the push of a button.
Also make sure that the cabinets are easy to open and close, be they full of clothes, appliances or food and drinks. If any cabinets are too high up, make sure to relocate them at a level the person can reach. This serves to support the independence of wheelchair users. Yet again this is general advice and one you can properly translate in accordance with your needs.
Even Out Floors
Maybe someone else already told you – getting rid of carpets will greatly increase wheelchair mobility within the home. Moving around over an uneven surface with small but continuous obstacles can be burdensome. Opt for a floor that provides an undivided area for movement. There are a lot of alternatives to regular flooring (like linoleum). And you don’t have to make sure each room is covered in the exact same floor as the other. Just make sure the materials facilitate a smooth transition from rooms, hallways, entrances and into the living space.
Bridge the Gap Between Levels
If ramps don’t work for bridging the gap between different floors, then an elevator will certainly solve your problems. It is the most typical adjustment for a multi-story house, but also, the most expensive. To perform this adaptation, you will need to consult a professional and get a custom-made solution for your home’s design. Purpose-built small elevators and lifts will significantly increase the function in the home.
Take Your Time
As much as you need to immediately adjust your home to be wheelchair accessible, it’s impossible to do everything at once. Some simple changes, like buying a disabled access ramp are straightforward and can be applied right away. Others might require a short period of trial and error before you find out what is the best solution for your home. Include everyone that shares the same roof in the process. After all, you need everyone to be on the same page with the changes.