So often, individuals with a disability searching for a home have a longer wish list of things they are looking for in their living space than the average person. Many people with disabilities may feel that they have to compromise on what they are looking for in a home because so many homes are not designed with accessibility in mind. But you shouldn’t have to compromise - make your home work for you! Keep things simple – if your home works for you, vs. you having to accommodate your home, you not only will create a more accessible and safe living environment, but will create a space you feel good about and can relax in. Check out some tips to simplify your life by keeping accessibility in mind.
Easy Storage The laundry/utility room, and closets may not be at the top of one’s priority list when looking for what will work for them in a new home, but keeping these rooms organized and accessible will allow that to translate throughout the rest of your home. Look for shelving that can be installed at your height to avoid having to reach up to tall shelves to store what you need. Use unconventional materials to help you. Try hanging shower rings on a hook in your closet to hang scarves at your height or consider a wardrobe with lower drawers to house your clothes instead of hanging them up on tall closet rods. Look for pull out rolling racks that can be installed in your kitchen cabinets, allowing you to place heavy dishes, pots or pans on them and roll them out towards yourself instead of having to reach to the back of the cupboard which may limit your mobility in the kitchen.
Easy Cleaning Consider a front loader washer and dryer. While they may cost a little more up front, investing in a front loader could mean the difference between being able to do your own laundry, if you’re a wheelchair user, and needing to ask for help each time you need a load washed. If the initial price is out of budget, check websites like Craigslist or put an ad in your newspaper for a good working used pair. Also, check out the hardware store for a variety of hooks that will work to easily hang up your broom, mop, and other cleaning supplies so they are within easy reach. Placing a tension rod between cupboards will allow you to hang up cleaning supplies and bottles with spray handles so you can reach what you need without having to bend or strain.
Easy Exit and Entry One of the most challenging aspects of home buying for wheelchair users is ensuring easy exit and entry not only into the home but also from room to room. When not possible to find a home entirely built on one level with low profile door jams, check online or in your local hardware store for options that are easy to install to make entering and exiting smooth and seamless. Everything from portable ramps to solid ramps to ramps to enter and exit the shower are available. Make sure that the ramp you choose comes with an option to fixate it securely to your surface to prevent, slips, trips, and falls.
What are some ways you have made your home environment work for you? Do you have any tips for simplifying your living space? Share in the comments!