What to Keep in Mind When Making Your Home More Accessible
Home is where we find comfort and belonging, but it's essential that everyone in your household and guests feel included and at ease.
In our latest blog post, we embark on a journey to explore the art of making your home more inclusive. From accessible design to thoughtful decor choices, we'll share valuable insights and practical tips to help you transform your living space into a welcoming haven for people of all abilities and backgrounds.
Join us in reimagining your home as a place where everyone feels valued and embraced.
1. Entrances and Exits
Creating a more accessible home isn't just about convenience - it's about ensuring that every corner of your living space accommodates your needs, regardless of mobility challenges. Whether you're proactively making your home accessible or adapting it to new circumstances, there are crucial factors to consider.
The first step to enhancing accessibility is ensuring easy ingress and egress. Start by installing ramps or lifts at entrance points. Ramps or gentle slopes should be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs or mobility aids and have proper handrails for support. Ideally, aim for a zero-step or threshold-free entrance to eliminate barriers. This allows for easy access for wheelchairs and minimizes tripping hazards.
Looking into the cheapest home elevator is also a great way to make going from one level to another easier.
Additionally, consider widening doorways to accommodate mobility aids comfortably. The standard minimum width for wheelchair accessibility is typically around 32 inches, but wider doorways are even better.
Also choose lever-style door handles instead of doorknobs. Lever handles are easier to operate for people with limited hand strength or dexterity. This simple change can significantly improve your home's accessibility.
Some other considerations when designing an inclusive home:
Covered Entrance: Provide a covered entrance to shield individuals from rain, snow, or extreme weather while waiting for the door to be answered or while locking/unlocking the door.
Doorbell and Intercom: Install an accessible doorbell or intercom system at a height suitable for everyone to reach easily. It should also have visible and audible indicators.
Peephole: Position the peephole at a height that can be used by both adults and children or consider a wide-angle peephole for better visibility.
Non-Slip Surfaces: Use non-slip flooring materials at the entrance to prevent slips and falls, especially in wet conditions.
Consideration of Sensory Needs: Some individuals may have sensory sensitivities. Minimize loud or abrupt sounds near the entrance.
Emergency Egress: Plan for accessible emergency egress routes, which may include wider hallways and appropriate handrails.
By incorporating these design principles, you can create an entrance and exit that not only meets accessibility standards but also fosters inclusivity and a sense of welcome for all residents and visitors to your home. Consulting with a professional who specializes in universal design or accessibility can be beneficial in ensuring your home is truly inclusive.
2. Bathroom Accessibility
Embrace universal design principles to ensure that the bathroom is usable by people with varying abilities and needs. Universal design focuses on creating spaces that are functional for everyone.
Bathrooms are high-traffic areas where accessibility is paramount. Install grab bars near the toilet and in the shower or bathtub to provide support. Utilize BA-PAC Removable Plastic Access Doors to facilitate maintenance and inspections while ensuring accessibility. Provide adequate clear floor space for maneuvering, especially for wheelchair users.
Aim for a minimum of 60 inches in diameter for a wheelchair to turn around comfortably.
Consider a walk-in or roll-in shower with a bench and handheld shower-head, making bathing easier for everyone. Lever-style faucets and easy-to-reach storage solutions can further enhance usability.
Shower Bench or Seat: Include a built-in or removable shower bench or seat for individuals who require seating while bathing. Make sure it's strong and stable.
3. Kitchen Modifications
The kitchen is another crucial space to make accessible. Lower countertops and sinks allow individuals in wheelchairs to use them comfortably. Install pull-out shelves in cabinets and drawers for easy access to cookware and utensils. Lever-handled faucets and touch-sensitive appliances can simplify daily tasks for everyone.
Lower Countertops and Sinks: Lowering countertops and sinks to an accessible height ensures that individuals in wheelchairs can comfortably prepare meals and use the sink. This adjustment promotes independence and inclusivity in the kitchen.
Pull-Out Shelves: Incorporate pull-out shelves in both cabinets and drawers to provide easy access to cookware, utensils, and pantry items. These shelves eliminate the need to reach deep into cabinets, making it convenient for everyone and reducing the risk of strain or injury.
Touch-Sensitive Appliances: Consider investing in touch-sensitive or voice-activated appliances such as ovens, microwaves, and dishwashers. These appliances are user-friendly and accommodate those with mobility challenges by eliminating the need to exert physical force to operate them. Additionally, they add convenience to the kitchen for everyone in the household.
4. Flooring and Pathways
The type of flooring you choose and the pathways you create can significantly impact accessibility. Opt for non-slip flooring to reduce the risk of falls. Ensure that pathways throughout your home are wide enough for wheelchairs or other mobility aids to navigate smoothly. Remove rugs or secure them firmly to prevent tripping hazards.
5. Lighting and Visual Accessibility
Good lighting is essential for everyone, but it's especially crucial for those with visual impairments or mobility challenges. Install brighter lighting fixtures in key areas and consider motion-activated lighting to enhance safety. Use contrasting colors for walls, floors, and furniture to improve visibility and aid navigation.
Strategic Lighting Placement: Ensure that lighting is strategically placed in areas where it's needed the most. This includes task lighting in workspaces, bright overhead lighting in common areas, and nightlights in hallways and bathrooms. Adequate lighting can help individuals with visual impairments and mobility challenges navigate confidently.
Motion-Activated Lighting: Consider installing motion-activated lighting in hallways, entryways, and other high-traffic areas. This feature not only conserves energy but also provides an immediate, hands-free illumination source, making it easier for everyone to move about safely, especially at night.
Contrasting Colors: Select colors with strong contrasts for walls, floors, and furniture. Dark-colored furniture against light walls or vice versa can help individuals with visual impairments distinguish objects and surfaces more easily. This contrast also aids those with mobility challenges in identifying obstacles.
Adjustable Lighting Options: Invest in adjustable lighting fixtures with dimmer switches or smart lighting systems. These allow you to customize the lighting levels to match specific activities or individual preferences, enhancing comfort and usability for everyone in your home.
6. Emergency Preparedness
Accessibility planning should extend to emergencies. Ensure that you have multiple accessible exits and that you can reach them easily. Consider installing fire alarms with visual and auditory alerts, as well as emergency communication systems that are easy to operate for everyone in your household.
Making Your Home More Accessible - Conclusion
Making your home more accessible is a thoughtful and inclusive endeavor that can greatly improve the quality of life for all its occupants.
By addressing entrances and exits, bathroom accessibility, kitchen modifications, flooring and pathways, lighting, and emergency preparedness, you can create a space that caters to everyone's needs. Remember that accessibility isn't just about complying with regulations - it's about fostering an environment where everyone can thrive.
So, take these considerations to heart and embark on the journey of transforming your home into a more accessible and welcoming place for all.
Jenny Kakoudakis likes to blog about interiors. She launched award-winning Seasons in Colour in 2014. When she is not chasing criminals out of the financial system (her day job), she gets creative by redecorating her own home.
Download her free bathroom renovation guide here.