The Tiny house Blog

Ways to Create a More Wheelchair-Friendly Home

Updated on:
July 2, 2024
Ways to Create a More Wheelchair-Friendly Home

Image Source: Canva

The space you live in is supposed to be the place where you feel safe and comfortable at any given moment. If you have (or know someone) a certain physical disability, then it’s of huge importance to create an environment that’s going to be a lot more accessible. 

Fortunately, there are a lot of things that you can do to accomplish that. Don’t worry, these modifications do not necessarily need to be expensive. With a couple of simple, yet most efficient steps you can make some drastic changes. 

It doesn't matter whether you're planning on making some long-term or short-term alterations, these are the steps that you need to take that are going to convert your place into a very cozy and lovely nook.

Consider Having A Wheelchair Ramp

A lot of people think that wheelchair ramps are only intended for those who use wheelchairs, however, they can be utilized for people who suffer from different physical issues and deal with them on a regular basis.

There are numerous benefits to them. One of the biggest advantages of wheelchair access solutions is the fact that they enable people to freely and normally move around their homes without worrying that they are going to fall or trip over something. One of the perks of purchasing them is that you'll be capable of safely going up and down the stairs, and, at the same time, easily access your household.

As previously concluded, they are not solely intended for the ones who use wheelchairs, but they can also be employed for parents who want to bring kids in and out of the home in a stroller. 

Furthermore, older folks can utilize a cart whenever they want to transport anything that they obtain in the store.

You Should Rearrange Your Furniture Too!

If you want to live in a house that will enable you to move around freely, then you should opt for an open space. It is ideal for anyone who uses walkers or wheelchairs. One of the best and most efficient ways to accomplish that is by rearranging your furniture. 

You should have at least a five-foot turn radius so that you can comfortably utilize any mobility aid without thinking that you will fall and hurt yourself. In addition, you should create a path of two feet between furniture. That’s considered a typical parameter.

Strive To Have More Legroom

Those who’ve been employing wheelchairs for a longer period of time will probably tell you that it can oftentimes be very demanding to maneuver your wheelchair around narrow and sharp spaces.

In these instances, you can knock down your walls, however, if you currently do not have the means for this, then another thing that you can do is to declutter your space, because, by doing so, you are going to keep your house free from any hurdles and obstruction. Not to mention the fact that you'll be living in a cleaner home as well. That's practically a win-win situation.

Now, when we say obstructions and potential hurdles, it refers to things like toys, and shoes that people can easily trip over if they do not pay attention. That’s exactly why it’s essential to make sure all the pathways are clear and free from these items so that anyone who is in a wheelchair can normally move around.

Image Source: Canva

The Importance Of The Lighting

Here’s something that’s oftentimes (sadly) very overlooked, particularly among the homeowners who are about to make some changes when it comes to this and are not familiar with the impact the light can make in the lives of people who use a wheelchair.

What they fail to realize is that the classic lighting that can be seen in regular homes is designed for people who do not have any physical disability, which is unfortunate for people who are in wheelchairs.

That’s exactly why it’s of huge importance to take this factor into account as well when creating a wheelchair-friendly space. In these instances, you must focus on the problems that can be caused by glare.

So what does that mean? It means that when a person is at wheelchair height they can have problems with glare from under-counter lighting and other lighting-related things that may be completely fine for people who do not employ a wheelchair.

Luckily, resolving this problem is not as difficult as some of you may think. For starters, a person who is in a wheelchair should take a tour of the house to see how comfortable they are with specific lighting.

Additionally, these sorts of problems can easily be fixed by decreasing the position of lighting or utilizing lowered glare bulbs. Speaking of the lighting, another problem that is frequently seen in many households is the position of light switches.

They are usually put either too high or behind countertops which makes it really hard for people in wheelchairs to reach them. One of the best ways to address this is by putting the switches at a height of approximately thirty-five to thirty-six inches. When it comes to those that are situated behind the counters, you should place them somewhere else, where they’ll be a lot more accessible.

Aside from this, another thing beneficial thing that you can do is to use bigger switches, because they can easily be maneuvered. 

Consider Having Handrails And Grab Bars

Here’s a solution that isn’t too complicated to install, yet that’s simultaneously, pretty cost-effective that makes bathrooms and bedrooms a lot more comfortable and safe. So where is the best place to install them?

You should focus on the regions in your house that demand a lot of activities and movement, such as a bathroom, living room, kitchen, and many others. These are so-called high-traffic areas. Now, before you install them, you first check the local and government resources, along with the International Residential Code for stairwell railings to see if you need any permits for this. It all depends on the city/state you live in.

Generally speaking, grab bars are supposed to be adjusted to the needs of the person who is in a wheelchair, however, according to the ADA, it should be somewhere between 33 to 36 inches off the ground.

Time To Replace Some Appliances

Another great way to turn the space you live in into a more wheelchair-friendly house is by replacing particular appliances. Don’t forget that some of them can really be a pain in the neck to people who are in a wheelchair or have any form of physical disability.

For example, microwaves can be placed too high, or they aren't capable of opening the doors of the fridge easily. These are just some examples. You should go through your home to see if there are any other appliances that do not fit the bill when it comes to wheelchair access. 

If you want to make things simpler, and concurrently, narrow down your options, just think about all the appliances that you utilize on a regular basis that are in an inconvenient place, and then either replace them or just put them in a different place. Below, you'll see some suggestions that can be of huge help in these instances:

  • Resort to front-load dryer and washer
  • Instead of a stacked fridge, you should use a side-by-side unit
  • Put a touch-control microwave into the lower kitchen cabinets

Pay Attention To The Bathroom

A bathroom can unfortunately be dangerous for healthy individuals, let alone for those who are in wheelchairs or have any physical disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately more than 235,000 people over the age of fifteen sustain serious injuries while in the bathroom. 

What's even worse is that almost fifteen percent of these individuals, end up hospitalized. Of course, the older you get the bigger your chances are of sustaining any bathroom-related injury. One of the biggest causes of these accidents is tubs and shower floors. 

They usually lead to slip-and-fall incidents, hence it's crucial to pay close attention to these areas. What you can do, for starters, is to make sure that anyone who is in a wheelchair has a lot of space to freely and normally move, and turn around whenever it is necessary.

If you want to adhere to the rules and regulations of the ADA, then you can have a bathroom (this refers to the small ones) that is sixty inches wide by fifty-five inches deep. Moreover, you need to make sure that every part of your bathroom is compliant with the minimum ADA requirements.

So what does it mean? It means that the entry door should be wide enough to enable the person in the wheelchair to pass through normally, without experiencing any issues. In order to accomplish that, the doorway needs to be at least forty-two inches wide. On the other hand, the space around the bathroom must be at least sixty inches wide.

It doesn't matter whether you'll be employing a wheelchair for the rest of your life, or if it's something temporary, what matters is to follow all these tips so you can feel comfortable and safe all the time.

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