Tips for Making Your Home Safer and More Livable for Those with Disabilities

a wheelchair

For people with a disability, an average home can be anything but average. It can be uncomfortable, frustrating, inaccessible, and oftentimes downright dangerous. Whether you're retooling your home to accommodate your own disability or modifying it to house a loved one, there is a wide range of changes you can make - from basic to much more involved. Here are some areas in which you can make your home more accessible.

Lighting

The easiest - and perhaps one of the most beneficial - ways to make your home more accommodating for those with a disability is to improve the lighting. Whether your disability is a visual impairment or a mobility issue, it's vital that your home be properly illuminated. You should invest in extra lighting in hallways, near stairs, and inside closets - places that are usually dim. You should add auxiliary lighting to work in tandem with overhead lights - floor and desk lamps (preferably with adjustable heads that allow for direct lighting). It helps to have lighting that can react to touch (like a tap lamp) and sound (clap on overhead lighting). You may also want to modify light switches to be larger and reachable from a wheelchair.

And if the disability is cognitive, there are interior light design tricks that can help with that too.

Stability

The simple fact is this: most disabilities make you less stable. That's why you need to modify your home to increase stability wherever you can.

The first step is to install grab bars in often treacherous places - this includes the bathroom by toilets and bathtubs, near stairs and ramps, and in the kitchen. Next, you should reassess your flooring. Those with mobility issues can easily get tripped up by high-pile carpeting and rugs, so replace these with thinner, lower-pile fabric. You should install no-slip mats in wet areas like the bathroom and kitchen.

Accessibility

In order for a person with adisability to maintain independence in their home, they must be able to get around with ease and have access to all essential rooms and appliances. Installing small ramps to account for elevation changes - both inside and outside the home - is usually the first step. These ramps can be small and portable or large and permanent.

Some with disabilities (especially those in a wheelchair) will need to modify their shower to offer roll-in accessibility as well as a shower seat. Toilet seats can be elevated and additional support bars installed on either side, as Redfin.com notes. Kitchen counters can be lowered to give those with disabilities additional workspace. You should get a stove with front-facing burners for easier cooking, and consider stocking the kitchen with easy-to-operate appliances like an electric can opener and a food processor (which makes some knife work unnecessary)

If your home has narrow halls and doorways, a decent amount of renovation may be necessary to widen these pathways for wheelchair access.

Smart homes

It may be a little pricey upfront, but investing in smart home technology can make life much easier for those living with disabilities. Apple, Google, and Amazon all make some type of smart home device that can pair with other tech to automate basic home functions as much as possible. These voice-activated devices can be tooled to open doors, regulate the thermostat, turn lights on and off, and even some fun stuff like play music and movies.

True home living independence may not be achievable - every person and every disability is different. But you can refit and retool your home to make it safer and more accessible. While there are some major home renovation projects (widening doorways, installing outdoor ramps that may cost a bit upfront, many home mods for the disabled are low cost and simple to install.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com




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