Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, most public places are designed with people who use wheelchairs in mind: ramps or ground-level entry ways, handicap parking, automatic doors.
But when it comes to your home, it’s a different story. Chances are your house wasn’t designed with wheelchair use in mind. And that can be a problem if you or a loved one finds themselves needing a wheelchair to get around.
At Pennsylvania Stair Lifts, this is the type of thing we think about all the time. Making homes more wheelchair-friendly is our business. That’s why we’ve put together these tips for making your home wheelchair accessible.
1. At the entrances
This should be one of the first changes you make: a wheelchair ramp at each entrance of your home. Make sure you have a wide enough pathway, and consider adding a non-slip surface and handrails. The cost of installing a ramp can depend on the materials you use and the size of the ramp. A portable ramp can serve as a temporary solution.
Rugs and thick carpeting can be difficult to navigate when you use a wheelchair. It may be time to switch to tile or hardwood floors, or at the very least low-pile carpeting. You should also install rubber ramps at your thresholds, and cover any exposed cords along the floor. Hallways should be at least 36 inches wide, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
3. Doorways and doorknobs
Getting through a doorway can be difficult when using a wheelchair. You can make things easier for you or your loved one by widening the doorways in your home to at least 32 inches. That can mean removing frames, reversing the way doors open, or simply taking doors off. Lowering doorknobs, switching to sliding doors or installing automatic door openers can also add to your home’s accessibility.
When making a home wheelchair accessible, you’ll likely need to replace your bathtub with a shower. Showers can be adapted for people with limited mobility as well as those who need a wheelchair. That could involve installing a roll-in shower, or a shower with a seat. Installing a hand-held shower head can be a big help as well. For additional stability, install grab bars near the bathing area and next to the toilet. This will require you to reinforce your walls. You may need to install a taller toilet, with enough space around the sink and toilet for the wheelchair.
Your kitchen needs to have enough floor space for wheelchair users to use the sink, stove, and counter. You may want to consider installing a multi-level counter, allowing people to prepare food/do other work while sitting or standing. Modern appliances offer people using wheelchairs more options, from stoves with controls on the front to refrigerators with side-by-side refrigerator/freezer designs.
This may be a moot point in the age of cellphones, but replacing corded phones with cordless or cellular phones will make things much easier for anyone using a wheelchair.
For someone in a wheelchair, a stairway can be the difference between accessing or not accessing a building. No one should have to face that sort of limitation in their home. Installing a stair lift can allow you or your loved one to continue accessing every part of your home.
If you need help making your home wheelchair accessible, contact Pennsylvania Stair Lifts.
Our products include not only multi-flight stair lifts for inside your home, but also external stair lifts and vertical porch lifts to help you outdoors. No matter how inaccessible the rest of the world is, we can help make your house feel like home.