Help! My Home Has Too Many Barriers

What can you do if your home has barriers and obstacles that limit your wheelchair from traveling throughout the house? The first thing someone in this situation should do is to call a CAPS/Home Modification Expert.
A Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) has been trained in:
1. the unique needs of the older adult and persons living with disabilities
2. home modifications that help you “age in place” and live self-sufficiently
3. solutions to common barriers to independence
4. improved mobility within the home
5. making your home safe, and enabling you to continue to live independently
6. strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically enriching, barrier-free living environments.

When assessing a home, using ADA Guidelines (Americans with Disabilities Act) is imperative to make your home safe and properly accessible. ADA.gov offers a list of accessible guidelines for residential and commercial areas.
Under ADA Guidelines, doorways should be 36 in. wide with a 5 ft. circle or T-Shaped space for turning or reversing a wheelchair. For a 2 story home, wheelchair lifts can be used to access the 2nd floor. Stair chairs/lifts may also be used if an individual is able to transfer into the stair seat. For the stair lift system, a wheelchair needs to be accessible for the individual both on the top and bottom of the stair well.
Bathrooms in an accessible home should have, as stated above, a 36 in. doorway and 5 ft diameter or T–shaped clear space inside the bathroom to turn the wheelchair. Shower stalls need to be barrier free with grab bars, hand held shower heads and shower seats. Toilet seats for an adult have to be 17 in.-19 in. high or higher for a taller person.

Your contractor should be an aging in place specialist and someone educated in barrier free living and Universal Design Products. Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012).

Take a look at a few useful Universal Design websites for additional information;


Ramps are a very important part of making a home accessible for wheel chair use. Even if your home has no stairs, making sure door thresholds are able to be crossed over is a necessity. Wheelchairs can tip, and riders may fall out of the chair if your doorway threshold is too high.

Your CAPS expert will know the ADA guidelines and necessary measurements for home accessibility. They will be able to guide you, and make recommendations for all of your home accessibility needs.

Next week, I will be discussing budgeting for home accessibility, and resources that are available to help you finance your accessible home remodeling projects.

For Now My Friends, Stay Tuned and Stay Living Safe…

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