10 Ways to Make Your Home More Handicap Accessible
More than 56 million people in the U.S. have some type of physical disability, according to the 2010 census. Whether someone needs help in the kitchen and bathroom or more space to maneuver a wheelchair around the house, here are 10 ways to make your home more handicap accessible.
Widen Doorways: Many wheelchairs and walkers are too wide to easily maneuver through doorways. Widening doorways can be a costly job (up to $1,000 in some cases), but you can use some offset hinges to help swing the door clear of the opening to inexpensively add a couple inches of space.
Build a Ramp: A ramp to a doorway will not only help those in wheelchairs, but anyone with mobility difficulties. To build a ramp you'll likely need a permit, so check local building codes before you begin construction.
Add Grab Bars: Grab bars will help with stability in the bathroom—especially around the shower and toilet. A standard 1-1/2-inch diameter bar works for most people's grip.
Install a Riser: A toilet riser can make it easier for those who have trouble bending over or standing up and sitting down. Risers can be purchased at home improvement and many drug stores, and usually cost less than $50.
Step-In Showers: Bathtubs, with their high sides, can cause problems for those with mobility issues. Instead, think about converting the space to a step-in shower. Install a shower bench for even more support.
Rethink Flooring: Rugs and thick carpeting can not only make it difficult for those in wheelchairs and with walkers, they can be a tripping hazard for everyone. Consider hardwood flooring, vinyl or ceramic tile.
Arrange Your Kitchen for Accessibility: Those looking to make their home more handicap accessible may have to make some changes to their kitchen. Try arranging appliances near the sink and counters to make tasks easier to perform. Move everyday items into lower cabinets for easy access. Lower Closet Rods: Consider lowering closet rods to make it easier to reach clothing. A height of about 2 feet from the floor will help those in wheelchairs.
Replace Knob Handles: Turning door knobs and some faucets can be a challenge for those with dexterity and hand coordination issues. Replace those round door knobs and faucet handles with lever handles.
Consider Furniture Placement: To allow ease of movement, make a path of at least 32 inches between furniture pieces. You may also need to raise furniture to help some people sit comfortably. You can achieve this with furniture coasters or small blocks of wood that are secured to the legs of the furniture.