If you have someone with limited abilities who is planning to visit in your home or is presently living in your home, you will want to make your
home as barrier-free as possible to assist them in moving with ease around your home. A barrier-free home is also a definite asset for anyone dealing with limitations in mobility when recovering from surgery, strokes, heart attacks and broken legs. Many features make the home more pleasant for family members of all ages and abilities and fit into the universal living concepts for life cycle housing. The following list of questions and chart allows you to conduct your own site survey to determine what barriers may need to be modified in your home. Additional tips are included in each section for enhancing for your home easy living.
- Is the lot located near public transportation, churches, shopping and medical facilities?
- Are approaches to the house and connecting patios or decks well-lighted, with focus lighting at steps and walking hazards? (Motion detector lights and yard lights with automatic timers will enhance home security.)
- Are decks or other additions to the house built to match existing floor levels, without steps that impede movement?
- Are there benches, chairs or other types of seating outside?
- Is there any shelter from rain or sun provided in the yard?
- Is there a telephone easily accessible to the outside area?
- Is there off-street parking close to your home?
- Is there a need for a specified parking space with a sign designating it as reserved for the handicapped close to your front door?
- Are the spaces at least 12 ft. 6 in. wide and do they have 48-inch space next to them?
- Is the parking area surface firm and smooth? (If not, what kind of surface does it have? )
- Can a person travel from the parking area to the front without having to climb any steps or go up a steep slope?
- Is the walkway smooth, firm and at least 48 inches wide?
- Are there any other hazards that could interfere with the use of a wheelchair, walker or crutches?
- Is the entrance door at least 36 inches wide with a clearance of at least 32 inches?
- Are there any steps that one must climb to get to the front door?
- Is there a front stoop or porch at the entrance measuring at least 5 feet x 5 feet?
- Is the threshold at the front door no more than ½-inch high?
- Does the front door have a lever handle?
- Is the front door easy to open?
- If there is carpet on the floor at the inside entrance to the home, is it a lowlevel,tightly woven style backed by a commercial ¼-inch pad?
- If there is smooth surface flooring at the inside entrance, is the surface nonslippery even when wet?
- If loose (scatter) rugs are used, do they have a rubber backing and lie flat on the floor (no curled edges)?
- Is there enough space in the foyer to move around? (A wheelchair needs at least a 5 foot diameter circle of space to turn around.)
- Is there enough light at the entrance for safety and for those with reduced vision to see clearly?
- Are shrubs and trees near entries well trimmed so that they do not provide a hiding place for intruders?
- Is the entire home on one floor?
- If more than one level, is there a bedroom and bathroom on the main or entrance level?
- Are all halls at least 3 feet wide?
- Do any objects protrude into the hall (on or above floor level)?
- Are they any thresholds in the home that are more than ½-inch high?
- Is there any surface or flooring inside your home that is loose, slippery or has a deep pile carpet?
- Is there any furniture that is in the way of travel in a wheelchair or with a walker?
- Do all doorways to all rooms have at least a 32 inch wide clearance between the frames?
- Is there enough space to move easily around both sides and the foot of the bed?
- Is there adjustable shelving and rod space in your bedroom closets to accommodate different heights?
- Are cleaning supplies stored where they can be easily used yet safe from small children?
- Is there a minimum of 48 inches between the kitchen cabinets?Is there difficulty in reaching any of the following when in a seated position:
a. Range controls?
c. Reaching into the oven?
d. Opening and reaching into the refrigerator?
e. Reaching and operating appliances on the counter?
f. Opening, loading and unloading the dishwasher?
- Are the lower shelves of wall cabinets no higher than 48 inches from the floor?
- Can the sink be reached and the faucet turned on and off from a seated position? (Leave leg room under countertops, especially at the sink. This can be done by removing the face from sink cabinets or by eliminating sink cabinets altogether.
- Is there a pantry or are there other storage areas that can be easily reached?
- Is there at least 30 inches of counter space on both side of the cooktop and sink?
- Is there a minimum of 12 square feet of counter space?
- Are electrical wall outlets easy to reach and grounded for safety?
- Does the floor have a non-slippery surface, even when wet? Consider institutional vinyls and ceramic tiles when purchasing.
- Is there a need for any reaching aids to assist people who have limitations in reaching, bending or stooping:
a. Knob turners: may be 12 inches to 18 inches long with an attachment that fits over the knob on one end.
b. “Push-pullers” allow users to push oven racks in and pull racks out when loaded with hot pots and pans.
c. Tongs allow reaching into refrigerators and removing items from high shelves.
- Are the controls for the washing machine and/or dryer easy to reach?
- Are both the washing machine and dryer easy to load and unload?
- Is there enough space to fold your clothes when you get them out of the dryer?
- Does the floor have a non-slippery surface, even when wet?
- Does the doorway to the bathroom have at least a 32 inch clearance?
- Is there enough space for a wheelchair to move about and to slide under the lavatory?
- Can a person reach the sink faucets while in a seated position? Consider having a wall-mounted countertop with an abbreviated vanity or no vanity cabinet underneath.
- Is the bottom edge of the mirror 40 inches from the floor?
- Is there a shelf placed at 40 inches from the floor
- Is there a clear 36 inch wide path to the commode?
- Is there a clear floor space of 32 inches x 48 inches adjacent to the commode?
- Is the rim (seat) of the commode at least 19 inches from the floor?
- Is there a grab bar at least 32 inches longs on one side of the commode and a grab bar at least 24 inches long along the rear wall of the commode? Besure all grab bars are well anchored, with screws into wood framing, not just into plaster or drywall.
- Are the heights of these grab bars between 33 inches and 36 inches from the floor?
- Is there a minimum space of 1½ inches between the wall and the grab bar?
- Are the grab bars at least 1a inch minimum to 1½ inch maximum in diameter?
- Is there a grab bar on the control side of the bathtub that is at least 24 inches long?
- For tub without seat: Is the grab bar at the side of tub at least 24 inches long and between 25 inches and 27 inches in height?
- For tub with built-in seat: Is the grab bar at least 42 inches long and between a 25 inch minimum and 27 inch maximum height?
- Is there a 12 inch x 1¼ inch diameter grab bar set at the head of the tub (required only if a built-in seat is provided)?
- Is the tub surface non-slippery?
- Is there some provision for built-in or portable seating in the bathtub? (Bars and seats to aid tub entry are available at hospital supply stores.)
- Is there a hand-held shower-control spray in the tub?Is there a separate temperature control unit?
- Is there a roll-in shower unit that is designed for a wheelchair?
- Is there a regular, curb-free shower-stall unit in place with at least a 32 inch doorway clearance?
- Does the shower-stall floor have a non-slippery finish?
- Are the shower controls between 38 inches and 48 inches from the floor?
- Is there a built-in seat inside the shower unit?
- Is the towel bar set at a height of 36 inches?
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