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5 Design Tips for a Home That’s Wheelchair Accessible
If you’ve moved into a home that needs to be modified to accommodate a family member who requires the use of a wheelchair, or if you need to make changes to the home of an elderly parent who is aging in place, consider these five tips for designing spaces that are wheelchair accessible.
A Wider Entry
Your family member with a disability should be able to enter your home without using steps, which can be barriers for wheelchairs and tripping hazards for those with certain physical challenges. The entry should be sufficiently wide. ADA (American with Disabilities Act) compliant entrances are at least 32 inches wide when a door is completely open, although some designers recommend 36 to 42-inch openings for individuals who navigate their own wheelchairs—to provide extra clearance for hands on wheels while in motion.
Lever Door Handles
Consider lever door handles. Whether or not your family member has full use of their arms or hands, lever handles can be relatively easy to operate. They allow one-hand operation, they don’t require a tight grip or twisting of the wrist, and they can be opened using a closed fist.
Extra Knee Space
In kitchens, baths, and laundry rooms nixing lower cabinets around sinks and installing plumbing pipes snugly against walls make it so that wheelchair users can roll much closer to the sink. Installing sinks and countertops at 30 inches in height, instead of 36 inches, makes them more accessible.
An Accessible Microwave
Incorporating a microwave into your lower cabinets makes things convenient for those in wheelchairs, and at the same time frees-up counter space.
Ramps and Handrails
Removing small steps in your home and replacing them with gradual-incline ramps, eliminating door thresholds between rooms, and adding handrails in hallways can all make living spaces much more navigable for those who have physical challenges.
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