Input by Ali Arthur
Key Considerations For Creating An Accessible Home
Disability is part of everyday lives for millions of Americans, and it’s no different in New Hampshire. Statistics released by the University of New Hampshire reveal that 12.5% of NH residents report disability, which is roughly equivalent to the national average. To put that in context, one in eight people you meet are likely to have a disability. More often than not, disability brings with it specific accessibility requirements. It’s crucial that these are given proper thought when building a custom home or renovating an older property. Doing so will ensure that the home is safe and comfortable, giving the owner independence and a sense of security.
Step one – predictability
Of New Hampshire’s 167,000 disabled citizens, the CDC estimate that 10.4% have difficulty with movement. A further 3.2% have trouble with vision, and 2.5% have difficulty with dressing and bathing. For these people, making the home a predictable space is crucial. Start with the overall surface of the home. Ensure there are no lumps and bumps in the hallways and doorways of the home that act as a trip hazard. If a ramp is required, make sure it’s installation considers an appropriate gradient. Consider installing a vertical lift for the stairs. You want to make the home easy to navigate with as few risks as possible.
Making the essentials possible
For those people who are diagnosed with mobility issues that impair self-care, having the utility to make those essentials viable is important. In the bathroom, this could take the form of a raised toilet, so those with hip and knee conditions don’t have to stoop down. A shower chair is often an essential requirement, and in many cases, having a stylish wet room-type shower makes life much easier. Moving to the bedroom, make sure the bed is, again, high enough to allow easy access without being dangerous. The kitchen can be challenging, but low counter tops are now widespread and available in a range of designs, making them easy to use.
Smart technology is helping to bring a little more time into the average person’s day. According to S&P, there are now 15 million smart homes in the USA and that number continues to rise. Why not make the accessible home smart? The likes of remote temperature controls, smart speakers and automatic door openers can be integrated into the home without compromising design, due to their small size. This can enable someone with accessibility needs to gain a greater level of independence, where the home is much safer and easy to control from a comfortable and safe position.
For people with accessibility needs, a bespoke home is a fantastic opportunity. Not having the constraints of older building stock and being able to choose a style offers the chance to integrate accessible features without issue. When designing, building or renovating a home, take stock of these key ideas to make the project successful and empowering for the occupant.