If you or one of your loved ones use a wheelchair, you may find it difficult to get a home that accommodates your accessibility needs. Most homes don’t have designs that account for wheelchairs. As a result, it often falls to you to retrofit your house so that it allows people in wheelchairs to go about their daily lives with relative ease. To help you determine what changes to make, we discuss a few ways to make your home wheelchair accessible.
To begin with, you want to ensure a wheelchair can comfortably fit through the home’s doorways. At the very least, doorways should be 32 inches wide, but 36 inches will be the most comfortable. Furthermore, smaller parts of the door, such as hinges or door trims, can cause issues when wheelchairs catch on them. With this in mind, you should consider installing offset hinges. These hinges give doors about an inch more clearance and are relatively easy and inexpensive to install.
Afterward, you’ll want to consider removing the door’s trim or the door altogether, provided it’s not important for privacy. You can substitute curtains or other similar alternatives for the removed doors to make an easier entrance for wheelchairs while still providing privacy.
Bathrooms are some of the biggest challenges for people who use a wheelchair. Luckily, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has guidelines for bathrooms you can refer to make your own more accommodating. Larger bathrooms will be easier to retrofit since they’re already simpler for wheelchairs to maneuver in. Regardless of the size, though, your first change should be to bring in a taller toilet. The ADA recommends a seat height of 17 to 19 inches for maximum comfort and easy transfers from a wheelchair to the toilet. You may be able to add a thicker toilet seat or plastic toilet seat insert to raise the height rather than buying and installing a new toilet altogether.
If space is an issue and maneuvering is difficult, you may want to invest in a bidet to help with cleaning up. Another useful addition is a set of grab bars on either side of the toilet to grab onto. Just make sure they’re no more than 36 inches apart.
The final way to make your home more wheelchair accessible is to ensure the person who uses the wheelchair doesn’t feel trapped in their own home. Investing in a wheelchair-accessible mobility van will allow them to ride as a passenger. You can also have it configured so that they can drive. If you already own a van, you can have it converted into a mobility van by finding an appropriate dealer to conduct a mobility van needs analysis. This analysis will help you figure out what features your van should have to help passengers who use wheelchairs enter and exit the vehicle.