99acres.com mentions some important features to look out for while buying, renting or designing a disabled-friendly home.
People with disabilities or special needs should not have to let go of their dreams of having their own home just because most houses are built for ‘normal’ people. If you are planning to get a disabled-friendly home, it would be smart to ensure that the house will make life easier for its disabled inhabitants and not inhibit their way of life. Based on a discussion with experts, 99acres.com mentions some important features to look out for in a disabled-friendly home:
Open floor plan
This might be the most helpful feature for a house with disabled residents. Open floor plan means that the house has large, open spaces and fewer barriers such as doors and walls. Open spaces will make it easier for disabled people to move about in the house without bumping into obstacles. If it is not possible to find such a house, try to have as much open space as possible such by using minimum furniture, having wide hallways, avoiding level differences such as steps, and removing door panels.
According to Alok Bhasin, an NCR based architect and interior design specialist, all corridors, foyers and passages should be no less than three feet six inches wide. “The minimum requirement is three feet of width to enable a wheelchair to pass through easily, but a width of three feet six inches is ideal for a disabled-friendly home,” Bhasin explains. He adds that all doorways should be at least three feet wide for a wheelchair to move about easily.
Ensure that all commonly used equipment are easily accessible by storing them at lower levels. Ajay Agarwal, Chairman, Geopreneur Design Studio suggests that switches, power panels, locks and bolts should be located lower on the walls so as to be easily reachable. Installing remote-controlled gadgets can be a great idea to make a disabled person’s life at home easier.
Mobility is the usually the most problematic issue for people with disabilities and living on higher floors does nothing to make their lives easier. Hence, Agarwal suggest that disabled people should choose a house on the ground floor to avoid having to face stairs every day. While the presence of lifts makes it easier to live in a high-rise, they can have their own issues such as accessing the control panel, since most lifts do not take into account the needs of disabled people.
Mehaa Seth Marwah, Co-Founder, Modspace.in, suggests the following points to ensure a kitchen is disabled-friendly:
- Lower countertops (28-34 inches above the floor) for easy access from wheelchairs
- Kitchen counters with adjustable heights
- Pull-out shelves and pull-out tables
- Lower cabinets
- Sliding cabinet doors
- Sink least 27 inches high for knee clearance
- Dishwasher raised six to eight inches off the floor
Bhasin adds that overhead storage should be avoided since it will be of no use to a person in a wheelchair and might cause accidents for visually impaired people. All work surfaces and equipment should account for the knee space for a person in a wheelchair.
Grab rails are a very important feature for disabled-friendly homes especially in bathrooms. Areas which have high chances of getting wet, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and toilets, should have non-slippery flooring. Experts also suggest shower cabins instead of bath tubs in disabled-friendly homes and avoid level differences and steps as it can cause people to trip.
While it might not be possible to have a house with all the above mentioned features, remembering these will help you choose a suitable home or at least introduce modifications which make it comfortable for a disabled person to live in.