On July 26, the United States celebrates National Disability Independence Day in commemoration of the signing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
Celebrating this day each year helps us recognize the importance of the ADA and the many protections and improvements it provided. The act also placed a spotlight on important accommodations for people with disabilities, such as wider doors and ramps for those who use wheelchairs, and assistance technology to help people read.
As you look around your home, there probably are many accommodations you could make to help those who need assistance. In honor of National Disability Independence Day, here are a few changes to consider making to your home to make it more accessible for those with disabilities:
- Simplify the furniture arrangements. Improving accessibility throughout the home can be as easy as removing unnecessary furniture and other trip hazards. Do couches partially obstruct walkways? Are there stacks of magazines or trinkets that could be stored safely away?
- Install lever door handles and faucets. Knob-style faucets and door handles can be difficult to operate for many people, especially those with arthritis or muscular difficulties.
- Remove steps at entryways. Stairs are barriers for many people, especially older people and those who use wheelchairs. Exterior ramps can help, and it’s even better if your home layout will allow a step-free threshold. It’s also important to ensure that your house has a first-floor bathroom so there’s no need to try to navigate a flight of stairs.
- Widen doorways and hallways. Anyone who uses a wheelchair, walker or cane needs additional room to maneuver. Ideally, all doorways and hallways will be at least 3 feet wide.
- Add grab bars and other enhancements to the bathroom. Because of the often-slippery surfaces, bathrooms represent particular trip hazards. Easily accessible grab bars can make it easier to use the toilet, bathtub and shower. A stool or bench in the shower can help prevent falls. You could even consider a shower that allows wheelchair users to roll right in.
- Increase the lighting in dark areas. Extra light can make it easier to spot and avoid obstacles, especially for those whose eyesight is diminished. While you’re at it, make sure that the switches are easy to operate.
In addition to these changes, another way to help improve life for those with disabilities is to ensure that there is extra help around the home. Engaging the services of a part-time, at-home caregiver can be an enormous boost in helping people with the activities of daily living. Take My Hand employs certified nursing assistants throughout Whatcom County who can help with daily tasks and activities and provide respite for family caregivers. Reach out today for your free in-home assessment.