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10 Best Home Modifications for Wheelchair Users

As home is associated with a secure and comfy place, there are some tricks that people with limited mobility can use to get the most out of their living space. From a wheelchair-friendly hallway to a garage, possibilities are quite versatile. Let’s get the hang of the 10 home modifications to make your home truly accessible.

Widen Doorway and Hallway

Accessible home design begins with providing enough room for a wheelchair to navigate. The smallest allowable width for wheelchair access is 32 inches wide. Yet, in this case, as in a real car, we should at least maintain a distance of 36 inches to move more freely.

If your current doorways and hallways are too tight, consider one of the following options. You can opt for custom-made, wider doors. Or remove the door frame entirely to create an open, unobstructed entryway. The other option is to enlarge the doorway by widening the frame or recessing the walls. These modifications might necessitate the help of a contractor, but they may boost traffic and home accessibility.

Install Ramp

Going up and down a staircase can be a very difficult task for people with disability, thus, adding a wheelchair ramp is an important component of making your home accessible. The ramp types vary, and the ones to consider include permanent, portable, and modular ramps.

Permanent ramps are installed directly onto the home’s structure. They provide a stable and long-lasting solution. Portable ramps, on the other hand, can be easily moved and placed as needed, which is quite a flexible choice. Modular ramps are made of interlocking pieces that can be quickly assembled and disassembled when needed.

Regardless of the ramp type, the slope should be gentle enough to prevent a wheelchair user from falling. The recommended maximum slope is 1 inch of rise for every 12 inches of run, although local building codes may have specific requirements.

Lower Light Switches and Electrical Outlets

The most common problem with wheelchairs is their limited range of motion. This complicates wheelchair users’ ability to reach standard-height light switches and electrical outlets. To resolve this challenge, consider modifying the height of these details to a level that is much easier to reach. Usually, it takes about 36 to 48 inches off the floor. This minor wheelchair-accessible fix may give people with disability the power to manage their surrounding environment independently.

woman in a wheelchair

Modify Kitchen

The kitchen is the central point of daily activities, and an easy-access design will mean greater wheelchair independence. First, make sure that the countertops are at a proper height, around 30 to 34 inches from the floor. With this height, arranging the stoves and the countertops becomes comfortable. Such a setting gives better options of where to put the appliances.

Consider incorporating pull-out or adjustable shelves in cabinets to make stored items more reachable. Wheelchair-friendly appliances can also be game-changers in the kitchen. This is a side-by-side refrigerator and a front-loading washer and dryer.

Adapt Bathroom

The bathroom can present some difficulties for people confined to a wheelchair. But with the necessary modifications, the room can become fully usable and safe for them, too. Install handrails near toilet and in shower area for additional stability and support. Make strengthened walls that are able to hold the weight of the grab bars.

For a shower or bath, choose a curbless or roll-in design that allows the person in the wheelchair to wheel directly into the spot. Vanities and sinks should be adjusted to serve those who use wheelchairs. These include knee clearance and lowering the countertop height.

Improve Flooring

Smooth, level flooring is critically important in the navigation of a wheelchair. Stay away from carpets with tight piles and area rugs that could be easily caught by the wheels and lead to tripping. A better option would be low-pile carpets or hard flooring materials, such as hardwood, laminate, or vinyl. Those will provide an even and unbroken surface.

If you do decide to get carpeting, it should be firmly secured to the floor and must not move, bunch, or shift, which might impede wheelchair movement.

Enhance Lighting

Adequate lighting helps wheelchair users navigate their surroundings safely at night. Positioned in strategic locations, recessed ceiling lights, wall sconces, and task lighting can all help increase general visibility in the house.

You could install motion-sensing lights or engage smart home technology to make it easy to turn the lights on and off around your living space. This comes in handy in such places as the corridor, stairways, or bathroom, where visibility is a must.

Automate Home System

The use of smart home technology can guide the wheelchair user into autonomy and independence. Consider voice-activated or remote-operate capabilities for operations like adjusting the thermostat, opening and closing blinds or curtains as well as controlling audio and video systems. Such automated systems can help eliminate the necessity of dexterity in the hands or repeated movements sharply.

a man in a wheelchair with a woman in a cafe

Provide Outdoor Accessibility

Do not exclude the outside area from access while modifying your home. Add ramps and pathways that connect to the entrance, thus creating a seamless flow from the sidewalk or the parking lot to the front door.

Besides that, consider an outdoor living space that can be easily accessed by the wheelchair user, like a patio or a garden. That’s the ideal place to enjoy nature conveniently. Raised garden beds, wide pathways, and shaded seating areas are all elements that could collectively result in a wheelchair-friendly outdoor environment.

Make Garage Updates

Accessibility of the garage is frequently ignored while homeowners focus on wheelchair-friendly interiors, but this space requires equal attention. Begin by placing a garage door opener. Leave it within reach and easy to operate for a person in a wheelchair. You can also install automatic garage door openers that can be operated remotely or with a simple button press.

Make the garage entrance as wide as possible and create a smooth transition from the concrete driveway to the garage floor. It will ensure that the wheelchair user is able to enter and exit the house flawlessly. Incorporate task lighting and storage solutions that are easy to access from a seated position. With such accessibility modifications, it will be simpler for the wheelchair user to maneuver the garage space.

Conclusion

Modify your place to accommodate a wheelchair by using these 10 home improvements, and you will get a wheelchair-friendly living space that is safe and comfortable. Start with affordable modifications that suit your current needs, and build up until all of your requirements are completely met with a fully accessible house.

Alex Vander Poel
Alex Vander Poel
Marc’s Mobility was created by my Father Marc in 1995 when I was 7 years old. I have grown up in and around this industry and from an early age would clean, drive and repair these units with Marc. I graduated high school in 2006 and headed to Gainesville, FL to get a Business degree at the University of Florida. Once graduated, I moved back to Lakeland FL to help my father grow the business to what it is today.

I have been full-time in this industry for almost 12 years as of 2022. When I graduated college the company was a small 3 member operation. At the beginning, it was my primary role to inspect, repair, and prepare units for shipping all across the US. As we have grown to over a 10 man operation, I now oversee all aspects of the business but understand each and every role here at Marc’s Mobility. I believe what makes us successful is we do our best to treat everyone we interact with as if they were family.

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