The idea of home has to be a comforting concept to those who walk in the front door. Keeping that in mind, how can you make your residence safe and comfortable for persons with disability? Whether it is a friend, an aging parent, or simply being prepared for any unprecedented life events, houses built with the Universal Design in mind can be of immense help.
What is Universal Design, you ask? The Universal Design was coined by Ronald L. Mace in order to emphasize the necessity of architectural designs that are suitable for persons with disabilities as well as for those without at every stage of life. In a house based on this design, there is nothing that is outstandingly different or expensive; it is only that the infrastructure is built to ease everyone’s lives. Making accessibility easier for all the members of the house is only going to foster positivity and happiness in the house.
Most of the time, stairs are a hazard to many, even those persons without walking aids or limited mobility in the equation. However, most architectural structures include stairs, even if they are only single-storeyed buildings. There are several ramp styles, both indoor and outdoor, that you can explore to make the house more accessible to persons with disabilities. You can look at collapsible ramps or portable ones if you need to make storage and transportation easy.
There is also a need to ensure the structural integrity and reliability of such equipment to make way for dependable room-to-room access for people with walkers, wheelchairs, power chairs, and other mobility aids.
If ramps don’t seem like a suitable option for your loved ones and guests, then consider installing a stairlift. Just like accessibility ramps, stairlifts too come in a variety of styles to choose from. For houses with aging residents, this is a permanent home modification that is certainly worth the investment. If permanent solutions do not work for your needs, you can also opt for the portable stair climber. Whatever you choose, this addition to your residence can make the higher levels of your house and even multiple exits to the backyard or driveway easier to navigate.
In technical terms, this design feature is called prima facie. Including this in the design of your house means that someone using a wheelchair can enter the space freely with relatively no help from others. This design style can also be useful for parents who have children and use strollers or for little children who need to take their bikes out. Once you choose an entrance like this, you will also notice how easy it is to move furniture or other large and heavy objects through the wide doors and smooth entrance.
Lever handles are within everyone’s reach and can be operated easily compared to doorknobs. Even if it is someone with a severe case of arthritis or compromised dexterity, these handles can be worked on. It also makes life easier when you have children in the house.
Two-way switches include one at the door of the room and another at the bedside. This is always better, especially for light switches. No one is comfortable finding their way in the dark and bumping into everything on the way. With a two-way switch, you can turn on the light at the door and get to your business immediately, and when you go to bed, you can easily turn the light off from the bed itself. Now there is no need to call out to someone to switch the lights on or off.
The more barriers you eliminate in the layout of the house, the more accessible the place becomes. For instance, the tiles in the regular bathrooms become slippery when covered in water and soap. The same goes for tubs and countertops. When the surfaces are too forgiving, people prone to falling find it difficult to make their way around the bathroom.
Some people find baths soothing or therapeutic, but the tall sides of these tubs make access tricky for those needing to use them. Consider step-in tubs for such occasions because they create a much safer environment for everyone by minimizing the risk of falling. Lining the space to make the surface slip-resistant is also highly recommended.
There are numerous ways to make your house, or any building, accessible to everyone. All it takes is a little consideration, consultation, and creativity. By adapting your house to the Universal Design, your house becomes a haven for those who have restrictions in mobility.