Accessible house design recognizes that everyone who uses a house is different and comes with different abilities that change over time.
“Accessible design is considered inclusive design and is meant to produce environments that are inherently accessible to all.” – Josie Abate
It is ideal to have a home that is adaptable to changing needs and appeals to many – young families, seniors and those with disabilities.
Interior environments must respond to basic human functions —vision, hearing, stability, and mobility—to achieve both comfort and efficiency.
It is important to understand why you are interested in making your home more accessible and what works well for your individual needs.
TYPES OF ACCESSIBLE HOUSING
Visitable houses include basic accessibility features that allow most people to visit, including those in wheelchairs. Features can include a level entry, wider doors throughout and washroom on the main floor.
Adaptable houses can easily be made accessible at a later date to accommodate someone with a disability. An example is the use of removable cupboards in a kitchen or bathroom to create knee space for a wheelchair user.
Accessible houses are fully equipped with features that meet the needs of a person with a disability. Such features can include power door openers, open turning spaces within rooms, wheel-in shower stalls and kitchen work surfaces with knee space below.
Universal houses recognize that everyone who uses a house is different and comes with different abilities that change over time. Features include lever door handles that everyone can use, enhanced lighting levels to make it as easy as possible to see, stairways that feature handrails that are easy to grasp, and easy-to-use appliances.
ACCESSIBILITY TIPS FOR THE “HEART OF THE HOME”
Designed for not only preparing and cooking meals, the kitchen has evolved into the heart of the home. That said, homeowners tend to invest money on renovating the kitchen because it is such an important space.
Some tips to consider when renovating your kitchen to make it more accessible:
- 5-foot clearance between the cabinets and island on all sides allows wheelchairs to move easily in and out.
- Kitchen counters at several heights can accommodate different tasks and postures.
- Drawers in lower cabinets provide low-level storage for plates, bowls and glasses so someone in a wheelchair can empty the dishwasher and store the items.
- Recessed cabinets under the sink provide knee space for a wheelchair.
- A shallow 6 inch deep double-bowl sink is user friendly for someone in a wheelchair or with back issues.
- Dishwasher drawers allow for easier loading and unloading than a traditional flip-down dishwasher.
- Countertop-mounted cooktop with knee space can allow someone in a wheelchair to cook.
ACCESSIBLE HOME TRENDS FOR THE AGING
With a large group of seniors moving into their retirement years, we are seeing more accessibility features being added into homes.
“This new generation of seniors is blessed with good health, vitality, education and wealth. The lifestyle choices they make will set the stage for how our homes are built in the future.” – Source
“85% of those over 55 said that they planned to remain in their present homes for as long as possible, even if there were changes in their health.” – Source: “Impacts of the Aging of the Canadian population on Housing and Community”, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMCH), 2008
By planning for the future seniors can now age in place with confidence and independence.
Techniques such as reinforcing walls in certain areas will eventually allow them to add items such as grab bars once they are required.
Including accessibility considerations early in the design process is more cost-effective than making alterations after the fact.
HOME ACCESSIBILITY RENOVATION TAX CREDIT
Seeing the trend in homeowners wanting to renovate their homes and considering accessibility, Canada has introduced the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit. This tax can help seniors 65 years or older in Ontario with the costs of improving safety and accessibility in your home.
Eligible expenditures must be enduring in nature and improve safety, access and functionality of a dwelling, such as wheelchair ramps, walk-in bathtubs, wheel-in showers and grab bars.
To find out if you could qualify for a tax credit to help with the cost of making your home safer and more accessible visit this website, or click on the image below to download the brochure:
All physiological needs such as mobility affect how a person perceives and reacts to an environment. When these needs are appropriately met, the user will perceive their environment as successful.
Find out more about accessible design here!