The nights are getting longer here in the Northern Hemisphere, which can be hard to cope with for some. Fortunately, it also means the season of coming together is upon us! For those with disabilities, leaving their accessible home to visit relatives can be very stressful. As we have discussed before, the isolation of being in a wheelchair can be detrimental to mental well-being and is especially during this time of year. So if you are hosting any holiday gatherings and one of your guests uses a wheelchair, we have some tips for making your home more accessible and welcoming.
Here are the top 5 areas to make sure are accessible:
1. Entrance: Chances are there is at least one step between your driveway and your front door. Here are some portable ramps to make it easier for your loved one to make it to your door!
2. Doorways: The ADA recommends at least 36" of clearance for exterior doors and 32" for interior doors. Since changing your doors might not be an option, check out our swing-clear hinges that allow the door to swing completely out of the jamb, allowing a couple more inches of clearance.
- Door width: As mentioned previously you want to make sure you have proper clearance, plus you will want an outward opening door for small bathrooms
- Grab rail by toilet: Installing a grab rail will make for a safer & more accessible experience.
- Sink height: You probably can’t lower the sink or replace a cabinet with a pedestal, but you can at least make sure the soap and hand towels are reachable. And another idea is to remove the doors and empty the cabinet below so that they have room to roll under the sink.
- If there is simply no way to make your bathroom accessible, instead you can locate the nearest store with an ADA bathroom and offer your guest a ride if the need arises.
4. Dining Table: A guest using a wheelchair needs at least 27" of clearance from the floor to the bottom of the table.
5. Social Areas:
- Create as much open floor space as possible. Keep decorations off of the floor and move furniture to the walls wherever possible.
- Any hard surface-to-carpet transitions will need to be leveled.
This list is an excellent start at making your loved one in a wheelchair feel welcomed, considered, and loved. Another really good way to create an accessible space is to simply ask how you can best accommodate their specific needs (especially about the bathroom). They might be different from our list here.
Creating an accessible home is a huge commitment. It takes a ton of thought and resources. Another way to offer better accessibility to your loved one is by helping them upgrade their wheelchair. The average wheelchair is 26” wide and needs about a 60” diameter of space to turn. But we offer one of the narrowest wheelchairs available. Our FLUX Dart is only 21.5” wide, needs only a 42” diameter space to turn with foot plates installed (35” without), and has flip-up armrests so the user can easily sit at a table. We designed this chair to meet the unmet needs of wheelchair users. We are constantly innovating based on what people with disabilities actually want and promise to continue to do so.
So this holiday season, make sure your loved ones with disabilities know they are important to you by planning an accessible home. And if you want to gift accessibility everywhere they go, you can check out our full line of compact wheelchairs here.