8 Steps to Make Your Home Wheelchair Accessible
If you want to make your home inviting to everyone, it's important to make it wheelchair accessible. To do this you don't necessarily need to complete extensive renovations. A few simple and low-cost steps can make your home easier to maneuver for those in wheelchairs.
Install Grab Bars in the Bathroom
To make it easier for a person in a wheelchair to get on and off the toilet and in and out of the tub, install grab bars near the toilet and handrails in the bathtub area. Each can typically hold up to 250 pounds if installed correctly. Make sure they're installed directly into studs. Choose ones with non-slip surfaces to make it easier to hold onto them. Be sure to install a non-slip mat in the bathtub as well.
Loose carpets and rugs can make it difficult to move a wheelchair. Remove them wherever possible, especially in the bathroom, kitchen, and entrance areas. A large low-pile rug in the living room may work if there are no tassels on the ends and as long as the rug has a non-slip backing.
It might be necessary to raise furniture in order for someone in a wheelchair to comfortably sit at a kitchen table or reach items on a coffee table or move from a wheelchair to a couch. Secure small blocks of wood to the legs of any furniture that needs to be raised. Furniture coasters could also work if you need to raise the furniture only an inch or so.
Manipulating a wheelchair around a home requires a lot of room for clearance. To allow for ease of movement by a wheelchair-bound person, arrange your furniture so that there's at least a 32-inch path. Leave enough room for a turning radius of 5 feet.
Change Doorknobs and Faucet Levers
Replace standard round doorknobs with lever-type handles. Securely tie a 36-inch string to each lever handle to make it easier to pull a door open or closed. Exchange round handles on bathroom and kitchen sinks with lever ones.
Get Rid of the Gravel
Gravel walkways and driveways are difficult to manage in a wheelchair. If possible, replace the gravel with concrete or leveled paving stones. If removing the gravel isn't an option, try to use smaller stones and keep the surface level and weed-free. Add edging along the path to reduce the chance of unwanted plant growth on the path.
Adjust Doorway Widths
The average doorway is 24 inches wide which is too narrow for a wheelchair to get through. If you have the funds, hire a carpenter to widen the doorways to at least 30 inches. But if this isn't an option, remove doors from their hinges and install pocket doors to the bathrooms to provide a little extra room for a wheelchair to maneuver. Replacing doors with curtains or drapes also works.
Lower Closet Clothing Rails
Remove current closet clothing rails and install them about two feet off the floor to make it easier for someone in a wheelchair to get their own clothes.