Make Home Accessibility a Priority: 8 Tip

Did you know that one-in-four Americans have a disability? If you're reading this blog, it's likely either you or a loved one is differently-abled, and your home is not tailored to suit your needs. Perhaps you require better wheelchair access to get into your home, or an aging relative needs accessibility modifications, so they feel safe in the shower.

Most homes are not built for people with disabilities, and it may take a little work to get your house to the point where it's accommodating for diff-abled mobility requirements and comfort.

If you need to adjust your home so it's more suited for a disabled individual, you've come to the right place. At Mr. Handyman of Upper Fairfield County, our expert technicians are pros at renovating homes for special needs. We take great pride in being considerate, listening to the needs of our customers and creating solutions for the challenges that diff-abled people experience every day.

If you're not sure how your home can become more accommodating, we've outlined a few key design tips and tricks below.

1. Welcoming Entrance

For a person with mobility requirements, say a wheelchair, walker or prosthetic leg, it can be frustrating if getting through the front door is always difficult. Even a small curb can pose a big challenge. So it's easier for your diff-abled family members, consider adding a flat, wide walkway leading toward your front door. If possible, flatten out the entrance way entirely to get rid of any steps or curbs that could be difficult to maneuver over. Alternatively, consider installing a ramp.

2. Lever Handles

Did you know that lever handles are much easier to open than knobs? This is true for people who have full access of their arms or not. Also, levers are easier for wheelchair and walker users as well. Besides, they look much more elegant than a traditional doorknob.

3. Ample Space

For walkers, canes and wheelchairs alike, ample room in your entryway and living areas is key for improved mobility. It's incredibly frustrating when you can't get through, or turn around, comfortably. For an elderly person using a walker, this can also be dangerous if he or she feels like they have to walk backward to get out of a tight spot. This could increase the risk of a fall. All door openings should be at least 36" wide—but more is better. Also, keep in mind that wheelchair users need about 5-feet of room to turn around comfortably. Light, airy, open floor plans are a universal design that benefits everyone.

4. Knee Space

For a wheelchair user to get close enough to the sink in order to wash dishes, produce or their hands, they need space to put their knees. The easiest way to achieve this is to leave space below sinks—instead of a cupboard. This is also a very modern and appealing aesthetic.

5. Lower Countertops & Upper Cabinets

A good rule of thumb is that 50% of storage should be easily accessible on any given day. The items you often use, like dishware, food, toiletries and clothes, should be within comfortable reach of both walker and wheelchair users.This might mean you need to lower cupboards, shelves and counter space. Depending on your, or your family member's needs, countertops should be between 28 and 34 inches from the floor.

6. Ramps & Rails

It's amazing the difference ramps and rails can make in your home. If you live in a split-level house, removing steps and adding a ramp will make a world of difference to your diff-abled loved one. Handrails are also helpful to have throughout your space, particularly in hallways, along ramps and even beside sofas—it can be helpful to an elderly person to have a hand-hold while transitioning from sitting down to standing up. These accessible modifications might sound small, but they'll make a big impact.

7. Bathroom Access

The bathroom is often a source of stress for people with mobility needs, but with the right bathroom modifications, the space can become an enjoyable and relaxing area—as it's meant to be. Consider the following changes to make your bathrooms more accommodating:

  • Handrails: Many parts of the bathroom are slippery, and your diff-abled loved one might need a helping hand to steady themselves in the shower or while getting up from the toilet.

  • Walk-In Showers: Or roll-in showers, if you prefer. The point is to have no lip on the edge of the shower and to have the door open wide enough that a wheelchair or walker can get inside. Also, for many seniors—using walkers or not—it can be challenging stepping over the rim of a tub.

  • Bath Mats: For seniors, the shower can be a place where they are at high-risk of a fall. By using the right kind of bath mat in the shower itself, you can help the surface be less slippery—decreasing the chance they'll slip.

  • No Storage Under Vanity: Similarly to in the kitchen, by removing the under-vanity storage you make it easier for a wheelchair user to access the sink. Alternative storage would be easy-to-reach medicine cabinets, upper cabinets and open shelving units.

  • Pivot Mirror: When you go into a wheelchair accessible public restroom, what do you notice? Often, the mirrors will be angled slightly so it's easier for a diff-abled person to see themselves. This is helpful for applying makeup, shaving, doing one's hair and much more.

  • Raised Toilet Seat: This is an easy feature to install that benefits both seniors and other wheelchair users. Raised toilets are easier to get onto, and also to stand up from. The higher the seat, the less a senior has to bend down. The lower they are, the harder it is to get back up. Much like sinking into a couch that's too low to the ground.

8. Seamless Transition & Outdoor Maintenance

Indoor spaces aren't the only areas that should be tailored to your family members with disabilities. Just like how your front entrance should be flush with the outside, so should your back entrance. Perhaps this means having the back door even with your deck or patio. That way, a wheelchair or walker user will easily be able to get outdoors.

Also, keep in mind that grass can be exceedingly difficult for wheels to move on. Instead of having a conventional lawn, why not have paving stones or a wooden walkway peppered with flower beds? Easy access to the outdoors is essential for good mental health, so make sure your diff-abled loved one can move around your backyard or garden easily.

Hire Our Handyman Pros Today!

Are you ready to improve daily life for yourself or your family member with disabilities? At Mr. Handyman of Upper Fairfield County, each of our hardworking technicians has years of industry experience, making us experts at nearly every home improvement project you can think of. We've helped countless customers throughout Fairfield County with their maintenance, repair and remodeling needs, including in Westport, Darien and Stamford.

To book an appointment today, or learn more about our full range of services, we invite you to give our friendly customer service representatives a call at 1-866-550-1710. We look forward to meeting you and helping with your future accessibility projects!