|Think of a ramp as an integral landscape element, not as|
an ugly afterthought.
Fortunately, we’ve gotten a good start at making the built environment friendlier to the disabled—an aim which, incidentally, makes life easier for the able-bodied as well. For example, who would object to lever-handle door hardware (a boon when you’re holding two armfuls of groceries), or to national park trails with ramps instead of steps?
|Doorways should be a minimum of 32" wide|
to safely accommodate a person in a wheelchair.
(Image courtesy of 1800wheelchair.ca)
We should remember, too, that “disabled” doesn’t just mean “wheelchair-bound”. Conditions such as vision or hearing impairment, arthritis, and other ailments simply due to growing older are disabilities as well.
What can be done at home to better accommodate the disabled? Since few of us really plan for such eventualities, we usually end up hastily retrofitting a house built for an able-bodied person—a much bigger challenge than starting from a clean slate.
|Lever handle door hardware makes life easier|
on everybody, not just the disabled.
• Doorways throughout the house should have a clear width of at least 32” to allow a wheelchair through, and thresholds should be no higher than 1/2” to make it easier for a wheelchair to roll over them. Doors should have lever handles rather than knobs—usually an easy retrofit. Ideally, the pull side of doors should also have some “parking” space beside them so the wheelchair won’t block the door as it’s opened.
|Grab bars should be in every shower and bathtub—|
they are among the most dangerous places in the house,
whether you're disabled or not.
These basic measures will go a long way toward making a one-story home more user-friendly to a disabled person. Unfortunately, making a multistory home accessible presents a bigger challenge and much higher cost; moving to a single-level home may be a simpler solution. If that isn’t an option, consider installing a stairlift—a moving platform attached to one side of the staircase—or a residential elevator to reach other levels.