5 Tips for Wheelchair Accessibility in the Home

June 25, 2021

There are a lot of reasons why you may be thinking about how you can improve accessibility around your home. Perhaps there has been a recent injury, maybe someone you know has recently started using a wheelchair, or maybe you are just getting older.

Whatever the reason is, there is almost no reason why you should refrain from making your home a safer and more accessible place. Specifically, when thinking about how to make home improvements for people who use wheelchairs, some things like ramps and elevators may seem obvious. However, there are quite a few smaller and more subtle things you can do around your home to improve the quality of life for people who use wheelchairs, and help make them/you feel comfortable in the home.

1. Doorways

Many people who are just beginning to make their home more wheel chair accessible worry about how the person in the wheelchair will get to the door (i.e. elevators or ramps.) However, something that often goes unnoticed is the actual width of the doorway.

To allow wheelchair access through a doorway there needs to be at least 32" of space and it is recommended that 36" be provided for comfortable access. Sometimes this requires re-framing one's passageways, but there are a few things you can do to gain a few inches of extra access.

Remove framing

Removing the framing around a doorway can increase the amount of moveable space by as much as 2-4". This will vary from home to home, but if you are only in need of a few more inches on either side of the door way, think about removing the framing and painting the corners of your walls instead.

Install offset hinges

Offset hinges allow doors to swing open and clear the doorway's space. This can provide up to 2" of additional space often occupied by the door. Installing a few of these hinges can help ensure easy access in and out of rooms around the house.

2. Lighting

Something that often goes unnoticed when thinking about accessibility for people using a wheelchair is the lighting in your home. Little things around your house can cause glare, or uncomfortable lighting angles for people who view things closer to the ground. Here are some ways you can improve some of the lighting around your home.

Lowering light switches

The average light switch sits at roughly 48" from the ground. You may never think about this if you are someone who doesn't use a wheelchair, but for someone who is using a wheelchair and is limited to how high they can reach, this can be a real issue.

A suggestions would be to lower light switches from 48" to 36". This is usually a very moderate and easy adjustment. It won't make a big difference if you are already able to reach light switches at 48", but for someone who isn't able to comfortably reach that height, lowering the switches can make an impactful difference.

Guiding LED's

Guiding lights is a beneficial tool to anyone in the house, but for someone who is adjusting to moving around in a wheelchair, navigational lights can be essential when operating in the dark.

Putting down LED lighting on floors and doorways to assist travel paths is an affordable and easy tool you can implement in your home to ensure everyone can move efficiently and comfortable in the home, no matter the time of day.

3. Furniture

Every room in your house has furniture. Although everyone may not be able to use it in the same way, furniture can have many purposes and function differently for everyone in the home.

Sturdy Furniture

Buying sturdy furniture is a good first step in ensuring its longevity after multiple bumps and scratches. Sturdy furniture can also provide support and balance in the event someone is falling or is in need of help.

Firm Couches and Chairs

Soft cushions can be very comfortable but hard to get in and of. Buying firm furniture makes it easier for people to get in and out of couches and chairs, or feel comfortable while watching T.V, listening to music, or just relaxing.

4. Bathrooms

The bathroom is a space that should have accessibility prioritized over almost all others. People deserve to have the privacy and access they need when they go to the bathroom, and there are ways you can make this process easier for people who use a wheelchair.

Grab Bars

Installing two grab bars on either side of the toilet can help mobility when going to the bathroom. If there isn't enough space to install two grab bars, try installing one to see if that can provides sufficient support.

Toilet Paper Holders

Something many home owners fail to consider is where they keep their spare toilet paper. Often times, having these extra toiletries stored near the back of the toilet or under a cabinet can cause difficulty getting the supplies someone may need. Storing toilet paper near the front of the toilet can give better access to someone who doesn't have as much mobility.

5. Kitchens

Many people believe the kitchen is your home's heart. Many families congregate in the kitchen, and help one another prepare meals, wash dishes, and spend quality time together. Although there are many renovations one can do to make the kitchen a more accessible place, here are a few quick tips you can do to make your kitchen more accessible without conducting major renovations.

Appliances on the Counter

Moving appliances like the microwave and blender to the counter can ensure that people who may have shortened reach can still access the appliances they need. This will also decrease the chance of someone burning themselves when reaching for a hot plate, or falling while trying to grab something from a high cupboard.

Reordering your cabinet

You can also reorder your cabinets to put the most essential items in the lower sections of your kitchen while keeping the infrequently used items in the upper cabinets. This will allow better access to the utensils that everyone needs for day-to-day use, and limits the need for reaching to high places.

In closing

These are just a few steps you can take to make you home more accessible, but there are tons of ways you can conduct renovations to make your home completely wheelchair friendly. Contact us to discuss ways in which we can help you make specific renovations to your home to become wheelchair accessible, or visit our website for more information.


View More News

Unite Interactive