How to Make Your House Wheelchair Accessible


Spring is often known as the time to remodel and add additions to your house, but for the two million wheelchair using Americans who live in private residences, remodeling takes on a whole new meaning.

It takes a lot to make your home completely accessible, and combined with buying a wheelchair van, it can seem like you have a lot to accomplish. Use this guide to help you out along the way.

General Accessibility

  • Replacing stairs with concrete or aluminum ramps is the most long-lasting, durable and cost-effective way to make the entrance to your home wheelchair accessible. Wood is also an option but requires far more maintenance than other materials.
  • Arrange your furniture to give you more space in each room and keep hallway obstructions to a minimum.
  • If you live in a two story house or have a basement, install a vertical platform or stairway lift to access each level of your home.

Widen Doorways

  • The standard wheelchair is 24 to 27 inches wide. Your doorways should be a minimum of 32 inches wide to allow for comfortable passage. Keep in mind that tight hallways where you are required to turn your wheelchair necessitate wider doorways (up to 36 inches or more).
  • You can also purchase automatic door openers, but they can often be expensive.
  • Install swing away or offset door hinges to make sure that the door opens wider than ninety degrees. These can also increase the width of your doorway by up to two inches.
  • Install door handles in the place of door knobs to make opening doors much more easy.
  • Portable ramps can help when a step up is required to enter in and out of a doorway.

The Bathroom

  • Install bathtub/shower grab bars and tub transfer seats to allow people to sit while in the shower. You can also use roll in showers to make getting in and out easy.
  • Standard toilets are 17 inches high, which can make transferring from a wheelchair difficult. The ADA requires that toilets be a minimum of 19 inches high (you can also install a raised seat to meet this requirement without replacing the entire toilet).
  • The cabinets below your sink can be removed to allow a wheelchair to be positioned nicely underneath it. You may also consider placing temperature controls on your faucet that prevent the water from becoming hot enough to burn or scald.

The Kitchen

  • Side-by-side refrigerators allow for easy access into both the refrigerated and freezer portions of your appliance, eliminating the need to reach up high when accessing your stores of food.
  • Countertops can be lowered to a minimum of 30 inches (down from the standard of 36) to allow for easy access for people in wheelchairs.
  • Cabinets and pantries can be lowered as well, and adding a Lazy Susan to deep cabinets can make accessing items in the back much easier.
  • A shallow sink with room for a wheelchair underneath can be installed. Also, use a single lever control and install similar temperature controls to those in the bathroom.
  • Buy a stove with knobs on the front instead of towards the back.
  • Keep the microwave on your countertop instead of set into the cabinets above the countertop.

Do you have any home renovations of your own that you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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