Other Indoor Accessibility Issues

Counter Design

In the ideal world kitchen counters will be built at a height which is usable for the wheelchair user. Standard height counters are usually too high for wheelchair users to use comfortably. Another consideration when designing counters is to not have a cupboard under the sink. In order for a wheelchair user to use a sink comfortably and safely they should be able to roll their wheelchair under the sink so they are sitting in a similar fashion as if they were sitting at a desk of table.

Faucets

People with dexterity problems may find standard water taps which have to be rotated can create difficulty and installing taps which are operated with either a single lever or dual levers for hot and cold will be beneficial. Anti-scald faucets are available at most hardware and plumbing supply stores and should be considered if there is a danger of scalding by anyone in the family.

Refrigerators

Conventional refrigerators with the freezer at the top are a problem for wheelchair users. Refrigerators that have the freezer at the bottom can also be an issue because trying to bend over low enough and reaching into the freezer from a wheelchair can be dangerous as the users centre of gravity is thrown off. The most functional style for a refrigerator is a side by side model that has two separate doors for the freezer and fridge sections that are side by side. This style allows for access to both the fridge and freezer without excessive reaching or bending.

Stoves

Burners are dangerous for anyone, but especially for people in wheelchairs. Reaching over a stove top with hot pots and pans in order to work the controls is very dangerous. There are models of stove available which have the controls across the fronts that are much safer for users of wheelchairs. That said, if there are children in the household one has to decide if accessible front controls are the best option for them.

Ovens

Conventional ovens are suitable for most wheelchair users however if the person using the over has balance problems, regardless if they are in a wheelchair or not, wall mounted ovens may be safer as their height is usually higher and the need to bend over is removed.

Cupboards

Unless a wheelchair user can stand up, or has a wheelchair with a stand-up feature, kitchen cupboards above the counter are pretty well inaccessible and arenít practical for daily use. Lower cupboards, buffets and pantries are a much better option for wheelchair users to use on a daily basis. Upper cabinets which can be lowered electrically for access are also beneficial but may have a prohibitive cost.

Laundry Rooms

Laundry rooms need to be large enough to manoeuvre a wheelchair for wheelchair users and both the washing machine and dryer should be front loading with controls on the front. A work counter for folding and sorting laundry should be open underneath so the front part of the wheelchair can roll under. Laundry room sinks should also be designed to allow the wheelchair to roll underneath.

Conversely, people with balance problems, use a walker of have difficulty bending over might want to consider top loading washers with front loading dryers stacked on top for safe easy access.

Closets

The hanger rods in conventional clothes closets are usually too high for wheelchair users to access easily but can usually be re-mounted lower without any cost. Alternatively, a second rod can be installed at a lower height in situation where the closet is in an area of the house where multiple users use it.

Home Accessibility Links




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