There are a wide range of adaptations that can be made to a home in order to make life easier and improve accessibility for people with disabilities. These adaptations can take many forms, from installing a wheelchair-accessible ramp to larger works such as widening doorways or otherwise fundamentally altering the structure of the home.
Financial Support for Disability Adaptations
In the United Kingdom, it is frequently possible to receive funding from your local council to help finance small alterations of this nature. This is generally the case for minor works coming to a total of less than £1000, such as ramps or grab rails. For larger works, it can also be possible to apply for a grant to the council, or to an association specialising in helping people finance this kind of work. For grants from the local council, up to £30,000 worth of funding can be obtained for those who are resident in England, £36,000 for those in Wales and up to £25,000 in Northern Ireland. In Scotland the amount of money that can be awarded is decided by the council in question and local NHS board. Depending on the nature and extent of the work, the council may request that you use some of this money to hire an architect to plan and oversee the proceedings. Anyone can request that their home be professionally examined, and recommendations made as to the nature of any changes that may be required. Disability living adaptations can be carried out for a number of different reasons; sometimes the works are essential but they can also be in order to simply ease day-to-day issues that those living with a disability may face.
Improving Access and Mobility in the Home
One of the most common adaptations that is made for those living with disabilities is the installation of a wet room. This involves altering the traditional layout of the bathroom, altering the shower so that it has no threshold, therefore making it less dangerous for those who are elderly or otherwise of reduced mobility to enter into the shower. These rooms also have a drain in the middle of the floor, which is sloped to allow water to drain. In effect, the flooring of the whole room is waterproof. This, naturally, can require a significant amount of work, therefore it can be advantageous in many cases to take the advice of an architect or other specialist in order to make sure that these works are carried out to the correct standard. Some such arrangements have a seat or handle situated near the shower head, so as to allow the user to shower even if they live with more significant mobility issues.
Another frequent adaptation, or rather a series of adaptations, is to alter one’s home in order to make it wheelchair-accessible, and so that the user of the wheelchair is able to access switches, taps and other household fixtures. One particular issue that can often be faced is the issue of doorways not being wide enough for the wheelchair to pass through. While this can sometimes be solved by making minor alterations such as installing different hinges or simply removing the door and its mountings altogether, it is sometimes necessary to have the structure of the doorway itself widened. It is also worth taking into consideration when considering access to rooms that some users of wheelchairs may require door handles to be altered so as to require less force to be opened. Another change to the home that may be required, and one that is for many people not immediately apparent is the issue of lighting - for those at wheelchair height, glare from light bulbs can cause discomfort, particularly in the kitchen or other brightly-lit parts of the home.
Adaptations for Vision Loss
Visual impairments may also require changes to be made to one’s home. This can include making alterations such as making sure that all areas of the home are sufficiently lit - particularly at the door to allow the occupant to be able to locate and operate the door’s locking mechanism and to better identify visitors. For people with sight impairments, it can also be helpful to make sure that the colour of the door contrasts sharply with the surroundings, in order to make it more easy to identify. As for those who use a wheelchair, it can also be highly beneficial for people living with a visual impairment to have any steps allowing access to the home to be altered or removed completely and replaced with a ramp in order to lessen the risk of tripping or falling. Other home improvements can include installing handrails or non-slip flooring and using colour, tactile elements and technology such as smart home systems to improve accessibility.
Interested in how better design and architecture could help improve your mobility and quality of life? Accessible architectural design is the subject of continual innovation as architects and disability advocates rethink today's built environments and their role in people's lives to offer more equitable use and universal access. From layout and spatial distribution to accessibility points, customised furnishings and innovative technology, there are a wide variety of adaptations to consider to make your home or workplace more accessible to all. If you're considering making any of these alterations or changes to your home, it can be important to work with with a specialised architect who will listen to your individual needs and help you develop solutions to get the most out of your spaces. It is particularly essential to consult with an architect for any work dealing with the structure of the building.
Ready to get your project started? Discover architects near you specialised in disability adaptations and compliance with accessibility standards here.