How to Make Your Home Electric Wheelchair Accessible?
- 20 Jul, 2021
How to Make Your Home Electric Wheelchair Accessible?
Electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters serve an essential function for people with disabilities or mobility challenges. However, many homes aren't designed to be wheelchair accessible. The extent of the modifications you'll have to make will depend on your home's existing layout and features. Still, almost all residents will need to make some changes to accommodate an electric wheelchair.
In this guide, we'll go through the essential modifications to help make a home more accessible for someone with a wheelchair to maneuver easily. Then, we'll take a look at some of the best indoor power chairs to consider if you're in the market for a mobility scooter.
We hope that this content makes the modification process as simple and painless as possible so you and your loved ones can move around your space with ease. Let's dive in!
Home Modifications for Disabled People
To cover the steps that will make an entire house wheelchair accessible, we'll start by going through a few general tips that may apply to the whole house. Then, we’ll go room-by-room through the home to highlight specific things to look out for in each space. Let’s start with the tips that apply to the home as a whole.
The first modification you'll want to tackle is removing any carpet throughout the home to make it easier for the wheelchair to navigate across floors. Having to drive over carpets or rugs can make things more difficult for the person in the wheelchair, and rugs can then become a tripping hazard if they're disrupted by the chair. Any hard surface makes a great flooring alternative, like hardwood, laminate, or any kind of tile.
Next, you may need to widen the door frames of some (or all) of the doors throughout your house. Depending on the width of the chair and the width of your doorways, this may be a simple fix or a more complicated fix. The goal is for the chair to fit easily through every doorway without too much maneuvering. This is one of the most crucial home modifications for disabled people to make. You may be able to remove the doorframe or use specific hinges that help swing the door in a way that adds a few inches to the opening. If that doesn’t work, it’s best to bring in a professional to help widen the doorways themselves.
Once you've addressed the doorways, it's time to take a look at your furniture. Again, depending on the width of the wheelchair, you'll want to make sure that your furniture is placed with enough space in between pieces. The goal is to create a wide path so that navigating around each room is simple without bumping into things or slowing down.
Last on our list of whole-home wheelchair accessibility updates, is finding a solution for any stairs in your home. For small sets of stairs, a ramp may make the most sense. For full flights of stairs, an electric lift may be necessary.
When it comes to the entryway, there are a few things to consider to create a wheelchair-accessible home. Begin by taking a look at the area leading to your front door from the outside. If you have stairs or other features that may present a challenge, consider purchasing a mobility scooter ramp or redecorating your entrance to create an easier path.
Then, take a look at the threshold to your home. Sometimes, there can be a significant bump in the doorframe. This bump may not affect wheelchair mobility if it's small enough, but it can be jarring to roll over if it's too large. In extreme cases, the bump may be so significant that it's difficult for the chair to get enough momentum to go over it. If that's the case, you can purchase a small wheelchair ramp to make the passage easier.
From the inside, the detail that people often forget is adding a new peephole for the front door. While it's up to you to decide whether this is necessary for your home, keep in mind that someone in a wheelchair will likely not be able to use the peephole at standard height.
The kitchen is one of the areas that can pose a significant challenge to wheelchair users. Luckily, there are a few fixes that can help wheelchair accessibility. First, lower the height of the sink and the counter spaces. At a standard height, wheelchair users can’t easily access sinks or countertops, making the kitchen an entirely inaccessible area.
Next, take a look at your appliance placement. Many kitchens have some appliances, like ovens, microwaves, or toasters, placed up high to maximize space. If this applies to your layout, consider modifying the space to place appliances within reach of a wheelchair user.
Cabinets are another tricky area where you might not expect to have to make changes. However, keep in mind that anything in upper cabinets is likely unreachable to someone in a wheelchair. Whenever possible, move high-traffic items to lower cabinets. Another option is to clear out one lower cabinet to put a few of each type of item within reach. This fix may require getting duplicates of specific tools or serving items, but it presents an alternative if it's impossible to move everything down lower.
Lastly, while the modifications listed above make your kitchen more accessible to those with disabilities, you may unintentionally be placing items within reach of children as well. When you’re done with your home modifications for disabled access, note whether there are any dangers to children that need to be reworked or childproofed before your job is done.
Many of the same tips for the kitchen apply to the bathroom. Like the kitchen, the first and most significant change will be lowering the height of countertops and sinks.
Since bathrooms are often smaller square-footage areas, you’ll also want to make sure there’s enough open space for someone in a wheelchair to navigate around. A helpful test is to check whether there’s enough space for the wheelchair user to make a complete 360-degree turn without difficulty. If not, reevaluate how you might change furniture placement or the overall layout to create a bit more open space.
For the toilet and shower/tub areas, install handrails as needed to help with balance and stability. This is especially true if the wheelchair user will be navigating these spaces alone and moving in and out of the chair regularly.
Lastly, if your space has a standard tub shower that requires stepping over the edge of the tub to enter, consider switching to a walk-in tub to make the entry process safer and easier. Having to step over the edge can lead to accidents from the slippery space or the lack of stability due to balancing on one leg at a time. Swapping out for a walk-in tub removes this potential hazard.
In the living room, there aren’t many specific elements to make the area more wheelchair accessible other than the furniture placement. As long as there’s room to move freely, the only other thing you may need to consider is where important items like remotes are placed within the room. If they’re out of reach for wheelchair users, consider relocating these items to somewhere closer to the floor.
Best Indoor Power Chairs
Now that we’ve covered the most common home modifications for disabled residents and wheelchair users, let’s explore the best indoor power chairs on the market. All of the options below can be purchased directly from our team at Scooters ‘N Chairs.
First on the list is the Drive Titan AXS Mid-Wheel Drive Powerchair. It's a robust model that doesn't sacrifice maneuverability, with a 20-inch turn radius to navigate smaller spaces. The Titan AXS also offers settings for seat preferences to help with comfort. The chair itself weighs 87 pounds and has a weight capacity of 450 pounds.
Another great option is the Merits Health Atlantis Heavy Duty Power Chair. With a larger seat and a weight capacity of 600 pounds, this chair is a great option for larger individuals. It can handle inclines of up to ten degrees, making navigation on-ramps, driveways, and sidewalks a breeze. It also has a long range, accommodating up to 32 miles.
Lastly, the Pride Go Chair offers different features that make it the optimal choice for active individuals who only occasionally need the chair. It's lightweight and more affordable than some of the other options on the market, but it's also going to be slightly less comfortable for long-term rides. At Scooters 'N Chairs, this model is our overall best-seller. It's a great option that many of our customers enjoy.
For more options that accommodate every price range and lifestyle, check out our full offering here. We’re also happy to make recommendations; if you’d like to share a bit about what you’re looking for, we’d love to help place you in the right fit for your needs.
We hope this has been a helpful exploration of wheelchair-accessible houses. If there’s anything else we can help with, don’t hesitate to reach out! We’d love to hear from you.