Interior Home Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities
Interior home accommodations for individuals with disabilities can create a more welcoming and accessible living experience for friends, family, and visitors who deal with disabilities. Depending on whether or not you have someone who needs the accommodations daily or if you have the occasional visitor with disabilities, these interior home accommodations can make a big difference.
Naturally, the first step to having great interior home accommodations is starting with the exterior home accommodations so be sure to check out our blog post about what exterior home accommodations to make for people with disabilities.
Questions to Ask
Before you can start making changes to your home, first make a list of the things that need to be improved in order to make your home more accommodating. Here are some questions to ask about your home to get you started.
- Will door thresholds be difficult to navigate?
- Does the main floor have a bedroom, a full bathroom, and a kitchen?
- Are staircases outfitted with handrails and good lighting?
- Will cabinets and shelves be easy to reach?
- Are kitchen work surfaces at a height that allows for easy food preparation?
- If you have area rugs, are they secured to the floor or lined with grip?
- Are smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor and able to be heard throughout?
Door Knobs vs. Door Handles
Most homes use doorknobs between rooms, but if hands or wrists have limited mobility, door handles will be much easier. Door handles do not require an extreme rotation of the wrist to release the door.
Another important factor in having an environment that is easy to navigate is being sure that all the rooms are well-lit. Hallways and stairwells often do not have any windows or sufficient lighting. Be sure that all stairwells and hallways have light switches at both ends.
To make the kitchen accessible for someone who uses a wheelchair or has another disability, consider what workspaces need to be lower or higher. A small dining room table could make a good workspace and would not require renovation. Another option is a fold-down table that’s strong enough to bear heavy weight. Also, consider that you may want to renovate the kitchen sink so that it’s at a more accessible height with leg space beneath.
When choosing an oven, select an appliance that has all controls on the front so that no one needs to reach over the burners to adjust the temperature. A removable mirror can be a really useful and simple tool for checking on food that’s cooking in stainless steel or other opaque pans. Also, you can use glass cookware to make it easier to see food as it cooks.
Place heavier items on bottom shelves and items that you rarely use, such as fancy glasses, on higher shelves. Clear shelving can also make it easier to visually see where items are located in your cabinets. A Lazy Susan can also be a great tool for making every item easily accessible. Also, if you’re buying a new refrigerator, choose a side-by-side option so that someone in a wheelchair can easily reach half of the refrigerator and freezer.
When a wheelchair is in use, the turning space that’s needed is going to be at least 59 inches. Remove any tight spaces in the kitchen to be sure that every part of the kitchen allows for a wheelchair to navigate easily.
Switches and Sockets Height
Install all switches and sockets at the right height to ensure that they are easy to reach for people who may be using a wheelchair or walker. They should always be within arms reach.
Bathroom Home Accommodations
Install Grab Bars
Grab bars should be located throughout the bathroom to provide extra support to individuals with disabilities. Place grab bars by the toilet and the shower stall or tub. Grab bars with some texture are better for when wet.
An Accommodating Toilet
Toilets can be a tricky part of the home to accommodate for people with disabilities. Consider the needs of the individual who will be using the toilet. An elevated seat can make the transfer easier, and some come with arms and guard rails. When selecting the right seat for installation, be sure that there’s plenty of space between the seat and toilet for cleaning.
Bathing Area Protection
With the added risk of water, the shower or tub needs to be analyzed for creating the safest bathing experience by incorporating the right height of the seat and non-slip mats. For showers, eliminate any thresholds so that it’s easy to roll in and out of the shower space. Place grab bars throughout the bathing area to provide stability.
Bathroom Sink Strength
The bathroom sink is often at the ideal height for accessibility and for leaning against. However, a freestanding sink should be reinforced with an “L” bracket into a wall stud to ensure that it can handle extra weight against it. Consider if you want to add additional mirrors or move a mirror to accommodate anyone who may be using a wheelchair. Also, provide cabinetry at lower heights with pull-out shelves so that items can be stored throughout the cabinet.
To ensure the comfort of people with mobility issues, all living spaces should have laminate or tile flooring. While carpet is soft, it can be difficult for people with mobility devices to navigate. However, the right type of carpet may be possible for the home, but be sure to do plenty of research on low-pile carpeting and opt out of using a carpet pad. Commercial grade carpet can be the best option if you want carpeting in living spaces.
Furniture should have plenty of space to allow everyone the ability to navigate around. Be sure that all device and lamp cords are tucked behind and below furniture to keep all pathways free. Check the sharp corners of furniture and consider adding pads to protect painful collisions.
Night Table Accessories
Beside your bed, be sure to have either a sturdy nightstand to help with transfers to your bed or to have a grab bar. For the nightstand, you may even want to have it mounted into a wall stud. You also want to have an outlet with a phone charger nearby so that a mobile device is nearby in case of emergencies.
These interior home accommodations for individuals with disabilities can make all the difference for creating a welcoming and liveable environment. While many of these accommodations are possible for you to do yourself, you may want to hire a contractor for some of the trickier changes.
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