Eight Home Improvements to Make Your House More Wheelchair Accessible

February 29, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

You face a big adjustment when making your house more wheelchair accessible. Often, it involved home improvement tasks you failed to consider. Here are a few essential for your review before making your house more wheelchair accessible.

1. Examine Your Entries

Even rarely used doors may be necessary for wheelchair access during a state of emergency. All thresholds should be rounded for easier wheel momentum and not higher than one-half inch.  Entry doors, and all doors in the house should have a width of 32 inches.

2. Make Electrical Accessible

An area often overlooked in accessibility is the ease of access to electrical outlets. Move outlets at least 15 inches above the floor to facilitate plugging in personal devices and personal appliances. Light switches should be placed lower than 48 inches above the floor. While thinking about electrical, don’t forget the thermostat. Make sure temperature controls comfortably fall within the same 48-inch zone to guarantee comfort of all residents.

3. Consider Your Carpeting

Wheelchairs often have trouble maneuvering on plush carpeting. Pile on carpeting should be one-half-inch thick or lower.  Also, be careful when decorating with throw rugs. These often catch wheels, prohibit free movement and can even cause falls.

4. Stabilize Your Shower

Shower stalls remain the better alternative to bathtubs for all people with mobility issues. This becomes even more important when including a wheelchair in the household.  Experts recommend that all showers add a seat with adjustability, as well as a hand-held shower head. Set your water heater thermostat to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit for an extra layer of protection against scalding those with mobility challenges.

5. Install Bars for Stabilization

Bars add stability not only to showers and toilet areas, but any other areas where extra security and stability may be in greater demand. Recommendations state bars should withstand 250 lbs. of stress. As a reminder, walls may require reinforcement to support weight-bearing bars.

6. Adjust Your Appliances

Consider accessibility when buying or replacing appliances. Side-by-side refrigerator-freezers allow easier access to both compartments. Purchase ranges with controls located in front – unless there is a concern for small children in the homes. When purchasing dishwashers, look for models mounted higher off the ground for ease of reach from a seated position.  

7. Observe Ramp Regulations

Ramps are usually on the first list of priority when improving wheelchair accessibility. Their construction makes a huge difference. Ramps must be at least 36 inches wide. When constructing a ramp, try using the least amount of incline possible for easier handling. Also, take precautions to shelter ramps from weather elements, that can cause dangerous situations, discomfort or deterioration of the construction. 

8. Don’t Forget Your Home’s Exterior

Beyond ramps, make certain the rest of the yard is accessible and enjoyable. Check pathways for cracks or loose concrete that might hinder wheelchair access. Also, consider the ability for all to experience the outdoors. Accessible planters and garden boxes, allow those in wheelchairs to fully participate in outdoor activities.


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