Many people are now growing accustomed to seeing accessibility adaptations out in public, such as accessible parking spaces, ramps into buildings, and more. However, not everyone knows how to make their own homes accessible for the people in their life that may need it. Disability is more common than most realize - there are two million new wheelchair users in the United States every year. With accessibility being so vital to so many people on a day to day basis, here's some of what a home should have in order to be truly accessible.
Because so many people in the United States live with mobility impairments that require a wheelchair, having your home be wheelchair-accessible is important. This means having alternatives to stairs for any changes in elevation, including doorways, single steps, and more. What might seem like a small step to you can be a serious difficulty for those navigating the space in a wheelchair. Also, make sure that all your doors are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair user; you want to ensure that all your spaces are able to be reached if someone is wheelchair-bound.
While maintenance might not be what immediately comes to mind in terms of accessibility, it's crucial to a healthy living environment for anyone dealing with a disability. A disability can make it more difficult to maintain your living space or update major home elements, like utilities. Even a simple leak may take longer to fix. If an undetected leak continues for a year, it could cost you roughly $164.50 in those 12 months. Try to ensure that the home is as well-maintained as possible by sticking to a regular schedule with maintenance and repairs. If you're just now building the home, aim to include appliances and utilities that are relatively low-maintenance. This will make it easier to handle when they do eventually need repairs.
A sense of security can go a long way in making a home safer for those with a disability. Accessible places can be hard to come by, and they aren't always surrounded by great conditions. Make sure your accessible home has safety systems to prevent home invasion and other possible crimes. In Michigan, the crime of home invasion carries a potential maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Just having a few safety measures in place can help those with disabilities, especially those struggling with their mental health.
Not all safety measures are preventing against rare occasions like home invasions. Some are as simple as a reliable home insurance plan that covers accessibility measures. For example, a broken ramp can be catastrophic for a wheelchair user, but not all home insurance plans would be able to cover these important accessibility measures. The cost of your insurance will vary by the property and the level of protection you wish to purchase, but it typically costs around 0.5% of the home’s purchase price.
Finally, one of the most important parts of an accessible home is to encourage independence through design and what's included in the home. This can mean different things for different people; some may need physical tools to help with fine motor skills, others may need lower countertops and cabinets so they can reach them without standing, while others may need a well-organized design to help cope with sensory issues. Every accessible space will look a bit different due to individualized accommodations.
Designing an accessible space can be challenging, and creating an accessible space from an existing home can be even harder. However, these tips can help you figure out where to start in making your home more accessible for those with disabilities.