Blueprint for a Wheelchair-Accessible Home
by Tate Handy
Your home is your sanctuary, and that doesn’t have to change when you begin to use a wheelchair. By making some
simple modifications to your home, your home can be comfortable, functional, and wheelchair-accessible.
Each room will require small home modifications to ensure your safety and comfort. Bedrooms and bathrooms will both need a phone or alert system, as well as an overhang lift, bathtub lift, and/or commode lift to help with getting in and out of the bed and bathtub and using the toilet. The bathroom should also include grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or on the bathtub for help with balance in a slippery area.
In the kitchen, make sure countertop and cabinet height is within arm’s reach from your seated position, and keep table height to at least 27” of space between the floor and the table underside. A clear area of around 30” by 48” at each seat will allow plenty of room to maneuver to the table.
If you need access to your basement or a second floor, a stair lift can help you easily access a different area of the house. Similarly, a stair lift can help you easily enter the garage or can be used outside if necessary, providing that it’s weather-resistant. Portable ramps can be positioned at home entries and in garages; for a longer outdoor staircase, a vertical platform lift can serve as an outdoor elevator of sorts. A two-car garage ensures that there’s enough room for you to exit your vehicle and comfortably move into your home.
Throughout the house, doorways should be at least 32” and hallways at least 36”, with 36” of clearance in all directions in areas where you may need to make a turn. Keep hallways and pathways clear and wide enough to comfortably accommodate the width of your vehicle. Make sure that lighting is bright and that controls are easy to reach and use. Finally, for extra security, have multiple phones and alert systems throughout the house so that you can quickly get help if you need it.
About the Author
Tate Handy is a marketing professional from Chicago.