Home accessibility is important because everyone should have a home that fits and functions to match their needs and lifestyle. Retrofitting a home to be completely accessible can feel overwhelming, so we recommend taking it one project at a time and starting with projects and products that will make the most significant impact first.
Now, more than ever, there are many home accessibility products to choose from. These products range in function and price, and because they are less common than non-accessible products, they may need to be ordered online.
When it comes to home accessibility, we recommend that you start with a list of all the projects and appliances that need to be made accessible. There are many different reasons that a home would need to be made more accessible. Check online for a home accessibility checklist that you can use as a guide. These free checklists will help you know where to start and how to budget for a full home renovation and upgrade.
There are several of these checklists online, ranging from general to very specific. And while there are lots of resources on making your home accessible for wheelchairs, there are fewer options for making your home accessible for amputees or individuals with multiple limb loss. If you are retrofitting your home for anyone with a particular set of needs, you will likely need to modify the accessibility checklists you find online.
For individuals who require the use of wheelchairs or for other people who cannot bend down low and use a traditional oven, there are ADA-approved wall ovens. Wall ovens sit higher in the wall and are accessible at whatever level you install them.
They function like a standard oven but are often just a little smaller with more accessible controls. Instead of controls being at the back, controls on a wall oven are easily accessible on the front of the unit.
Did you know that you can purchase a kitchen cook range that you can use with just one hand? This is important for true accessibility in the kitchen. On these ranges, the controls should be at the front of the unit and easy to access without reaching over any hot burners. High-end ranges often come with lock-controls so you can keep yourself and other members of the house safe.
Though they might not be marketed explicitly for increased accessibility, smart home devices can be an excellent investment. Because smart home tech gives you the power to control things about your home with a remote or a cellphone, this tech can be very accessible-friendly. You can get smart controls for home heating and air conditioning systems, kitchen appliances, home security, and even your doorbell.
Smart doorbells, in particular, are a great investment because you can stay stationary while checking your doorbell and can even have conversations with people just outside your door while you stay stationary in the home.
Washers and Dryers
Accessible washers and dryers bring all of the controls up at the front and are completely front-loading. These units sit at the right height for easy wheelchair access and have very wide front openings. You can find accessible washers and dryers online or even at big-box stores like Home Depot.
When having these installed, make sure to place water pans underneath to help prevent damage from a potential leak until you can turn off the water or get professional help. These cheap, plastic pans can be a lifesaver—especially if your unit could potentially leak into a basement.
Accessible showers can be bought and installed as units. These showers have no lip or bar for entry and usually feature a stool or chair. The water controls should be low enough and close enough to access while sitting, and the—or one of the—shower heads should be removable and on a long cord for ease of use. These units can be expensive, so it's important to budget for one when possible.
Updating a home to be more accessible is possible but does require time, effort, and budgeting.