The last census that was undertaken demonstrated that over 50 million people in our country have a handicap. Although some of these disabilities are not overly significant, at least 7 million of these people have trouble moving about their own home. These numbers have lead to both private and government-owned homes to be adapted to allow for better accessibility. Unfortunately, federal standards do not exist, although it is hoped they will soon be developed. The problem with this is that there is no federal funding available to support the financial cost of . But how does a home need to be adapted to become handicap safe?
The first and most important thing is that all doorways and hallways are completely clear. This is due to the fact that many of the disability laws focus on those who have to use a wheelchair. Hence, all doors have to have an opening of at least 32 inches. Secondly, thresholds should be lower than one and a half inch, and they have to be rounded. Low are rounded thresholds are important for both wheelchair users and those who require the help of a cane or walker. The width of a hallway should be at least 36″. Should the occupant be a wheelchair user that has to take sharp turns, then it may need to be wider. Accessibility on stairs is also very important. Hence, the treads of stairs should be at least 11 inches. It is also recommended to install a stair lift. At the very least, handrails should be placed on each side.
To ensure people are able to store their belongings in walk-in closets, it is recommended to install adjustable rods. Pull-down rods are classed as the best option. Plus carpets are generally a very bad idea. Those in a wheelchair would need to use far more arm strength, and it presents a significant tripping hazard to others as well. This is why the pile of carpeting should be no more than half an inch. Last but not least, the electrical workings of a home may need changing. This is why an outlet should be placed at a height of at least 15 inches, and any switches such as the thermostat should be placed at no more than 48 inches. With these adaptations, any home will be fully friendly to those with handicaps, including those in a wheelchair. A number of other adaptations can be made too, such as handrails or walk-in tubs. However, these adaptations will vary depending on the person and what their disability actually is.