Making your home handicap accessible
important factor for those living with disabilities or experiencing more
limited mobility as they age. People living with impaired mobility do not have
to be inhibited by their surroundings. In fact, modifications in key areas of
the house can help make independent, self-sufficient living possible.
The first obstacle to tackle in self-sufficient living is
getting in and out of the home safely. This is a simple, common occurrence that
many people take for granted, however, for those with physical disabilities,
entry to and exit from different critical access points in the home can be
challenging. The kitchen, bathroom, and living areas are also areas in the home
that must be made accessible. The addition of grab bars, handrails, and added
space in hallways or doorways can significantly ease one's ability to maneuver
throughout the household. Beyond these common renovations, here are a few other
important factors to consider:
For those with decreased strength, arthritic hands, or other
disabilities, opening doors can pose a difficult challenge. Traditional door
handles may be too difficult to grasp or turn. The use of lever handles on
doors can make for easier entry into different rooms or into the front entrance
of the house. In fact, Vancouver has progressively mandated that all new
buildings and residences be constructed with lever door handles rather the
traditional knob handles. This change is effective March 2014 and is based
around the development concept of universal design.
The concept of universal design is based on the premise of making
environments usable for the whole population, including those with
disabilities. In addition to lever handles,
other important devices that can be installed at entry points in the home include
an electric door opener and keyless electronic locks. These can help ensure the
safety of the home without compromising the ease of access and utility of these
entry and exit points.
Kitchen Workspaces and
An important factor to consider when working in any area is
lighting. Consider the installation of under-cabinet lights or focused task
lighting to improve the visibility in hard-to-reach or hard-to-see areas.
Relocating outlets or light switches is another simple way to improve the
functionality of your home. Additionally, space should be reconfigured to
ensure there is enough knee space available for wheelchair users. Pullout
shelves can also be installed as easy-to-use and convenient workspaces.
Traditional refrigerator/freezer combinations usually place the freezer on top
of the fridge. This can make shelves or items difficult to reach. When
considering new appliances, look for side-by-side refrigerators or ovens with
controls on the front, to ensure that everything is safely within reach.
Making your home handicap accessible has never been more
possible. Technology has advanced enough for the construction of
elevators within the home, offering a convenient alternative to wheelchair
ramps or stairs. For more information on accessible home renovations, be sure
to use the helpful resources available online, like the Canadian