Tips for creating a wheelchair accessible home
Narrow doorways, high counters, and steep stairs are common hurdles impossible to navigate for people with limited mobility. Modifying your home to improve accessibility can seem like a big job, but it’s easy once you know where to start.
Roughly one in every five Queenslanders has a disability, government statistics reveal. If you or a family member has a disability, it’s important your home is built to accommodate your needs. Narrow doorways, high counters, and steep stairs are common hurdles impossible to navigate for people with limited mobility. Modifying your home to improve accessibility can seem like a big job, but it’s easy once you know where to start. Here’s how you can make your home safer and easier to access for people with limited mobility.
Entrance and walkways
Your home should have at least one accessible entrance. The doorway should also be wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through. Internal doors should have a minimum width of 820mm and passageways a minimum of 1000mm — but any extra width is helpful. When buying and arranging furniture, make sure there’s enough space for a wheelchair to navigate around the furniture. Ideally, the entire home should be easy to move through, although this may only be necessary in select areas of the home, such as, one bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and between living spaces. Long, narrow hallways should be avoided as they’re very difficult for wheelchairs to pass through.
Move light switches and door handles lower down, so they’re within the reach of someone in a wheelchair. When choosing cabinets and tables, only buy pieces that leave enough room for the wheelchair. Measure from the ground to just above the leg of the person using a wheelchair, so you know how tall the furniture needs to be. Alternatively, adjustable kitchen and bathroom counters are also a useful investment. They can be lowered or raised via remote control, so they’re a suitable height for wheelchair users. As for bathroom sinks, pick a shallow one with the drain positioned nearer the back — this helps prevent splash back.
Use smart technology
Smart technology links up with various appliances in your home and gives a new level of independence to people with disabilities. In fact, the City of Melbourne recently ran an innovation competition for companies to come up with smart tech solutions to address issues, such as, accessible parking, footpath navigation, and wayfinding. In the home, Amazon Alexa, for example, can perform numerous tasks like making calls, setting alarms and timers, playing music, and adjusting the thermostat. It’s voice activated and hands-free. Alternatively, smart plugs plug into the wall and can then be used to control any smart device plugged in via an app or voice command. Smart bulbs can also be turned on and off with a voice command and even preset to turn on when you get up in the morning and off when you go to bed at night.
Finally, be sure to have smooth, hard flooring rather than carpet. Thick carpet can be difficult to navigate with a wheelchair. With these tips, you can improve the accessibility of your home and make it a safer, comfortable, and more enjoyable place to live.
You might also be interested in the three categories of performance for livable housing, outlined in the Guidelines by Livable Housing Australia.