How to Make Simple Wheelchair Accessibility Modifications to Your Home

Extensive remodeling of a dwelling can be costly, but a few simple steps and modifications can economically enhance wheelchair accessibility.

Indoors

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Remove loose carpets or rugs.

Change doorknobs to lever-type handles.

Replace narrow doors with pocket doors or even curtains.

Move furniture to allow at least a 32-inch path and a 5-foot turning radius.

Add a 36-inch string to each door handle. A wheelchair user can use this to pull the door closed when moving through the doorway.

Add furniture coasters or decorated, small blocks of wood to raise tables and desks above knee level.

Tack or glue down small, wedge-shaped pieces of wood or metal to serve as mini ramps over high door thresholds.

Use drop leaf, roll-away carts for kitchen work areas.

Change bathroom vanity-style sink fixtures to pedestal types.

Change the toilet to a taller, narrower handicapped toilet to permit access by commode wheelchair.

Install grab bars as necessary in the bathroom.

Install a nonslip floor in the bathroom.

Install a hose/nozzle system in the shower.

Put in a water-powered ascending/descending tub seat.

Install lever handles on kitchen and bathroom sinks.

Consider changing appliances to front-control, front-access types.

Plan an emergency exit for the wheelchair user.

Outdoors

Install a ramp for at least one entrance/exit of the dwelling. The ramp should be built at no more than a 1-to-12 gradient.

Convert gravel walks to concrete for all-weather access.

Construct ramp access to the garage or carport to allow sheltered entrance into and exit from a vehicle.

Move the mailbox to an accessible point.

Things You Will Need

  • Power Wheelchairs
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Home Alarm Systems
  • Smoke Detectors
  • Telephone Jacks
  • Manual Wheelchairs
  • Medical Alert Bracelet
  • Shower Massager
  • Wheelchair Gloves
  • Wheelchair Mini Ramps
  • Wheelchair Ramps
  • Wheelchair Seat Cushions
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Lever Locksets
  • Cellular Phones

Tips

  • Wheelchairs generally maneuver best through a 32-inch-wide portal.
  • Restricted hallway access might be overcome by reversing the way a door swings.
  • Install telephone jacks in every room.
  • Install any new telephone jack or electrical outlet 6 inches higher than usual.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are especially important for the safety of disabled residents.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Warning

  • Ramps must be kept clean of snow and ice to remain useful.