Ramp It Up: 5 Tips for Making Your Home Handicap Accessible

As 10% of the population reports to have mobility issues, many more of us have problems that haven’t been medically diagnosed. If you don’t struggle to get around, you might not think about whether or not your home is handicap accessible. By the very nature of most home design, in all likelihood, it’s not accessible.

Here are five ways to ensure your home is accessible to friends and family with disabilities.

1. Start With Doorways

One of the most important things for making your home have better disabled access is to expand your doorways. This is a fairly expensive affair, but plain and simple if a wheelchair-bound person can get through the door, your home isn’t accessible. In order to do this right, you’ll need to set aside enough money to run some trials.

If you expand your doorway, you might end up with a door that doesn’t open all the way. Widening your doorframe could result in a door that doesn’t open wide enough and makes it harder to maneuver around.

Offset hinges are a good solution to allow a door to swing away from the opening. With offset hinges, you can buy yourself a few important inches of space. While this job could cost you around $1,000, it’s a fundamental change that will make life more comfortable for friends or family who have mobility issues.

2. Get Yourself a Ramp

When you’re considering adding a ramp, you need to do a lot of measuring. A steep set of stairs can’t be simply replaced with a ramp that is angled at the same distance as the stairs. Imagine laying a plank down along your stairs and consider how strong that angle would be.

At most, your ramp shouldn’t exceed seven degrees. The ADA recommends that your wheelchair ramp be around 4 degrees for people without a motorized chair. While a ramp can help people with mobility issues get into your home, they won’t do well if they can’t make it up the steep ramp.

You might end up needing a permit to build a ramp on your property, especially if you have to build a long one that stretches out past your stairs. Check local building codes and laws if you’re not sure what the regulations are.

For creative ramp solutions, view here for more.

3. Add Some Grab Bars

People who are older or who have disabilities might have mobility and balance issues. That means that they’ll need to have stable and steady railings wherever they go. It’s hard to climb stairs or even walk down a long hallway if you don’t have the means to maintain your balance and stand up straight.

People who are wheelchair-bound will have trouble getting from one seat to another without some grab bars. This is especially important in the privacy of the bathroom.

Whether they need help getting into the shower or up and down from the toilet, people with disabilities need grab bars to maintain privacy and dignity. Everyone should have what they need in the bathroom to feel comfortable and secure. Grab bars will make any toilet accessible to people with disabilities.

For some added support, consider adding a riser to your toilet. For people who can’t mend down or have trouble standing without help, a riser for your toilet could be a big help.

4. Change Your Flooring

If you have a lot of rugs or super thick carpets in your home, you could make it hard for people with mobility issues to get around. While it might seem comfortable on your feet, wheelchairs won’t be able to get around on a carpeted floor.

For older people with walkers, a carpet can turn into a tripping hazard quickly. While you might need a little bit of traction, there are plenty of flooring solutions that will make mobility easier.

Hardwood floors are a solution that will allow your home to be sturdy and stylish while easy to get around. If you choose vinyl, you can get a textured and inexpensive solution that makes mobility easier.

Ceramic tiles can be lovely but buying textured tiles or ones that won’t be too slippery when wet can add up in cost.

5. Rearrange Your Kitchen

If you or your loved one have a disability and love to cook, you need to reimagine your kitchen space. Most kitchens are designed to have everything reachable by people standing above 5 feet. However, for someone who is in a wheelchair, the top shelf isn’t an option when they can’t even reach the middle shelf.

Rearrange your appliances and looking refrigerators and other appliances that have lower handles. Put your appliances near the sink or near your counter so that work is easier to do. Find compact solutions for dishwashers, stoves, and storage racks that make it easier to be productive while also conserving space.

While not every problem will be able to be solved by an accessible solution, several can. Around your house, you should reconsider where the door handles and cabinet handles are located. They should be lowered and made easier to access.

If you have closet rods in your kitchen or other spaces, lower them down to just a few feet from the floor so that people with wheelchairs can access them. Add step ladders for those who can use them and gripper tools for those who need them.

Making Your Home Handicap Accessible Takes Creativity

If you want to ensure that every area of your home is handicap accessible, you need to come up with some clever solutions. When we live without mobility issues we take for granted how easy it might be to get around and to be productive. Once a hurdle is thrown in our way, we might have our life upended without the right solution in mind.

If you’re in the midst of redesigning your deck, check out our guide for solutions that could be included in your accessible design.

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