Whether you currently use a wheelchair, or if you are planning for a future situation, there are many accessibility modifications that make activities of daily living easier. They can also help increase safety around the home. Most ADA requirements apply only to commercial buildings and care facilities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t apply them to your designs. Consider these changes that boost accessibility in residential settings.
1. Update Your Bathroom
Bathrooms, with their small spaces and loads of hard surfaces, can be an accessibility nightmare. You can modify an existing bathroom to be more wheelchair- or walker-friendly with handheld showerheads and grab bars, but renovations will make it a much more user-friendly space. Ideally, a roll in shower or walk-in tub and accessible sink would be included in any bathroom changes. Large, open areas that allow for a wheelchair to turn and raised toilets that make transfer easier are also helpful.
2. Rethink Food Storage
This is an area that often gets overlooked, but for someone who uses a wheelchair, it is a critical point. There are ADA guidelines for kitchen storage spaces that are a useful tool for modifying a home kitchen to be more accessible.
3. Remove Floor Transitions
Raised saddles between rooms make navigating ina wheelchair or walker difficult at best, and dangerous at worst. If it’ possible, remove those transitions by installing the same smooth flooring throughout the house. This makes it much easier for wheels to glide along. Take up area rugs and runners that cause unnecessary drag on wheels and could possibly become a hazard.
4. Relocate Switches and Outlets
Wall switches that are at standard height are awkward to use from a seated position. Guidelines require them to be located at a height between 15 and 48 inches where there are no obstructions for a forward reach. These rules apply to thermostats or other controls as well.
Small changes can have a big impact on daily activities. It is helpful to start with areas where you have the most trouble and then expand your accessibility modifications to other parts of the house.