Home Modification

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For a child that uses a wheelchair, a ramp leading up to the door of the house can represent the difference between being homebound and exploring the world. Read the sections below to find out what critical modifications can make your home and vehicle a better environment for your child.

Home Modification Guidelines

Content by: United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Indiana

Some homes are better candidates for modification than others. A home is considered to be adaptable if it has all or most of the following key structural features to allow reasonable entry and circulation without extensive modification:

  • Entrance is on a flat or level site with paved walkways from parking and sidewalk.
  • Alternatively, the entry could be on ground-level entrance with a one or two step entrance, clear of any major obstructions (trees, corners, etc.), that would accept a ramp with a slope no greater than 1 inch height per 12 foot length.
  • No steps or abrupt level changes on the main floor.
  • Doorways that are at least 36 inches wide.
  • Hallways at least 42 inches wide.
  • At least one bathroom on the main level with a 36-inch wide door and clear 5 foot by 5 foot floor space.
  • A kitchen that is U shaped or L shaped with room for a wheelchair to maneuver.

Individual access needs vary widely, but some additional items to consider when building new or buying a house that needs to be accessible include:

  • Low pile carpeting or hard floors
  • Chair height doorbell/mailbox (48-54 inches)
  • Chair height electrical controls/outlet/phone jacks (48-54 inches)
  • Accessible, easily operated window controls (slide open with one hand with less than 8 pounds of pressure (24-28 inches from floor)
  • Direct outside emergency exit from bedroom of person with a disability
  • Chair height controls in kitchen and bathroom
  • Reinforced wall for grab bars
  • Lever handle door handles inside and out
  • Appropriate bathroom fixtures for persons need (roll in shower or tub with built in seat or lift)
  • Reinforced ceiling, if a lift is needed
  • Roll under sink in kitchen and bath
  • Automatic door opener

Some modifications that could me made in the home include:

Accessible Entrance/Exit – includes adding ramps, widening doorways, making entrance locks and door handles accessible and providing an emergency exit

Accessible Interior – includes widening hallways or interior doors, moving electrical switches and outlets related to door widening

Accessible Bedroom – including widening doorways, making the closet accessible (lowered shelves and hanging rods), relocating electrical switches and outlets

Accessible Bathroom – includes modifying design of commode, sink and cabinets, tub or shower, widening entrance, moving switches and outlets, faucet hardware

Accessible Kitchen – including cabinets, counters and appliances for disabled adults to prepare their own or their family’s meals