What is Home Accessibility?
Living with disability may require various adjustments to daily routines, especially in the way one lives in and moves around the home. A home accessibility assessment is one of the main considerations to take in creating an optimal living space, as it works to address specific requirements for those with increased mobility requirements, as well individuals with more independence looking for enhanced security.
For example, let’s take someone who might have previously lived in a second-floor apartment with no elevator access. If that individual now requires a wheelchair after an illness or injury, they will need to consider relocating to a more accessible home as they can no longer access their apartment. By ensuring that the disabled individual can comfortably move in, out of, and around their home, they are able to continue to stay active while living a healthy and social life.
These home accessibility modifications are often completed with the help of dedicated professionals, such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, and environmental access consultants, who offer recommendations tailored to each person’s unique needs. In fact, there are a growing number of service professionals and designers that specialize in making homes more convenient and safe for people of all backgrounds and abilities.
By implementing modifications to make the home accessible, individuals can maintain a high quality of life, and experience a greater sense of freedom, confidence, and comfort.
Common Home Modifications
Below are a few home modifications that are most commonly considered for individuals with disabilities. These will be helpful for those looking to change a home’s existing infrastructure, or for those needing to relocate to know what to look for.
Ensure access to all levels
- A key adjustment is to secure access to a first-floor bathroom and bedroom where possible.
- Ramps, stair-lifts, chairlifts, or elevators may need to be installed for those who rely on wheelchairs so they can access all floors of the home.
- Another obstacle may be stairs to the house or steps by the doorway. This can be solved by building a ramp to the door or creating alternate access through a backdoor or garage
Measure, measure, measure
- For those with a wheelchair, it’s very important to measure the wheelchair to ensure correct modifications are made, so they can fit into hallways and doorways.
- This includes ensuring a minimum of a 5-foot turning radius so that it is possible to make a 360-degree turn.
- Also make sure to check the floors to see if they are level. Levelled floors make it easier to operate a wheelchair. Even ½” can become barriers for those with wheelchairs, walkers, or scooters.
- A roll-in shower chair or seating option makes it easy to shower with a wheelchair.
- Safety grab bars in key locations like bathrooms and showers are important in preventing slips and falls.
- Installing a channel drain will make water drain faster and prevent overflow.
Focus on the details
- Lowered countertops and knee space under counters and chairs make daily activities such as dining and cooking much easier.
- Accessible light switches that are well within reach will provide adequate lighting and visibility.
- Lowered storage spaces will also allow greater access to various key items.
Add a smart system
- A simple and relatively low-cost modification is adding a smart, voice-activated system to make controlling the lights, thermostat, and appliances easier for someone with dexterity issues.
What Home Modification Could Cost
While the cost to remodel a home for accessibility depends on the type and amount of work required, the amounts can add up quickly. Remember, home accessibility means something different to each person, and each home and individual are unique. Below are some sample ranges for common home modification requirements (source: Angie’s List):
- Kitchen Remodel: $25,000
To make a kitchen accessible for a couple aging in place, adding pull-out cabinets and shelves for each access, as well as a touch faucet to make knob-turning easier for someone with arthritis.
- Bathroom Remodel: $20,000
To widen the doorway and accommodate a wheelchair, creating a walk-in shower, adding grab bars in the shower, and lowering the sink and medicine cabinet for easy reach from a wheelchair.
- Ramps to doorways: $1000-$15,000
Financial assistance is available for home accessibility as well, with grants ranging from partial to full cost of the required repairs. Here are a few resources that can help:
- The National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification
- Housing Grant for Disabled Veterans
- Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program
- Section 203(k) loan program from the Federal Housing Administration
These are just a few organizations that can help make home accessibility cost-effective for you. There may be more available depending on which state and county you reside in.
Are you curious to learn more about how to make your home accessible? Contact us for a home accessibility report today.