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A Complete Guide to Creating a Wheelchair-Friendly Home

older women in a wheelchair

A wheelchair-friendly home is ideal for family members with limited mobility. However, the majority of US homes are not fully accessible. This will be challenging for people with disabilities as they may not be able to live independently without assistance. 

You can create a wheelchair-accessible home, and this complete guide shows you how. 

Lighting

Ensure that the light switches are not too high, so a family member in a wheelchair easily reaches it. The height should be no more than 36 inches and consider buying larger switches. If possible, go with either motion-activated lighting or solar, so there’s no need to find switches. Provide additional lighting where necessary.

Doorways

Aim for at least 32″ to 35″ wide to fully accommodate wheelchair passage. If your doors are not that wide, consider installing offset hinges to provide an additional inch of clearance or trimming your doors. You may also remove the door and replace it with a curtain instead.

Bedrooms

 If possible, both sides of the bed should be accessible, and the mattress isn’t more than 21 inches from the floor. Avoid buying taller drawers to make it easier for a family member to access their clothes. 

Flooring

Go with flooring that is slip-resistant and easy to maneuver using a wheelchair. Ceramic tiles are not only affordable and easy to maintain but also hard and slip-resistant. If you decide to have carpets, go with commercial grade. For vinyl flooring, go with tiles as they are more cost-effective.

Hallways

 Ideally, hallways should be at least 48 inches wide to make it easier for passage. For easy access, remove any obstacles such as unused tables, chairs, cabinets, or any clutter. A clutter-free home is a wheelchair-friendly home.

Kitchen

Consider lowering the countertop to at least 28 inches for easy access. Install faucets on the side and install a hands-free sink if possible. For the cabinets, lower them to a comfortable height of the person in the wheelchair. Remove lower cabinets for more legroom. 

Bathrooms

 Aim for at least 36 inches for passage. Consider installing wall-mounted toilets to ensure it’s the correct height. Otherwise, go with at least 17 inches in seat height. A bidet is also ideal. For the sink, ensure it’s up to 34 inches only. Install grab bars in the shower and a portable seat to make it easier for the person in the wheelchair.

Living Room

Buy sofas and chairs that are comfortable and sturdy. Ensure they are not too soft as it might be difficult for a family member in the wheelchair to get out of. To ensure safety, never buy furniture with sharp edges and decorations made with glass.

Porches, Driveways and Yards

Consider installing a small ramp to make decks and porches accessible from the inside. For the driveways, ensure that it’s either concrete or asphalt or any hard surface. The yard should be accessible both from the inside and outside of the home. 

Speak with a Professional

There are several options available for those who want a wheelchair-friendly home. But it can be overwhelming, especially for new homeowners. Don’t hesitate to consult with a professional if you need assistance.