If you use a wheelchair on a daily basis and have difficulties climbing stairs or reaching your front door, then you may wish to consider making adjustments to your home. Wheelchair ramps and stair lifts are designed to provide accessibility solutions for the disabled, enabling wheelchair users to regain full access to their homes. Needless to say, home accessibility aids can go a long way towards promoting the health and quality of living of wheelchair users, and are both safe and simple to use.
There are a wide range of wheelchair ramps, stair lifts and other devices on the market, so picking the right equipment can be a difficult task. Luckily, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to home accessibility aids to help you make the right choice. But first, read on to discover some of the common home improvements mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.
With their slippery surfaces, steep rises, and lack of proper railing, stairs and entryways can be hazardous for any member of the household, and especially so for those with reduced mobility and upper body strength.
Installing a home accessibility aid can be complicated, as structures must comply with both local building codes and mandated ramp safety regulations and standards. Before undertaking improvements to create your wheelchair accessible home, make sure you account for a number of variables, including slope rise, ramp length, drop-offs and potential obstacles, such as trees or walls.
Poorly constructed ramps pose a risk to both wheelchair users and caregivers, and cost time and effort to replace. Whether you’re installing a wooden, modular or Roll-a-Ramp structure, steep rises should be avoided in all cases. As a rule, your ramp should have only one inch of rise for every 12 inches of run.
Next, devising your layout is an important aspect of proper wheelchair ramp construction, as you may have to incorporate a switchback or U-shaped design to keep your ramp’s rise low and smooth. In addition, handicap ramps should be at least 40 in. wide and feature both handrails and non-skid surfaces for added transfer safety in wet or snowy weather. Uneven surfaces, poor structural support, inadequately-sized landings, and high curbs are other hazards which should be avoided when installing wheelchair ramps or trying to make your home wheelchair accessible.
According to research carried out by the Ministry of Health of British Columbia, ramps reduce the risks of falls among the elderly, and are recommended as a primary preventive measure. Ideally, wheelchair ramps should be an extension of your home, ensuring smooth transfers in and out of raised porches and hard-to-reach landings.
Landscape ramps such as the one pictured above provide a safe, gentle slope, but may be unsuitable in homes with steep front steps. Structural wheelchair ramps can be set up to accommodate an array of home exterior designs and layouts, adopting different configurations (straight, switch-back, U-shaped, or L-shaped) depending on the dimensions of your home entryway. Built for use with scooters, walkers, and power chairs, structural ramps are both versatile and highly functional, and come in permanent and portable designs.
Modular Wheelchair Ramps
Constructed of durable, weather-resistant materials, modular ramps provide a permanent fix to all your home accessibility needs. Modular wheelchair ramps are easy to transport and install, and are designed to facilitate a number of different configurations, including L and U-shaped set ups. This home accessibility aid is relatively simple to service and can be upgraded with applications that make wheelchair transfer easier.
Wheelchair ramps are safe to use all year round, provided you take the necessary precautions when moving in wet or icy conditions. Canopies or covers and heating coils may be necessary during winter months to prevent ice build-up on pathways and other important outdoor structures. For more information about modular ramps and how to set up your wheelchair accessible home, click here.
Roll-A-Ramp wheelchair ramps are one of the newest and most cost-effective innovations in disability equipment, and represent the perfect home accessibility solution for the disabled and wheelchair-dependent. Roll-a-Ramps are lightweight, ultraportable and easy to assemble, and are a great option for temporary stays or quick getaways.
Roll-a-Ramp modules are linkable, which means that your ramp run can be lengthened or shortened according to your needs. By contrast, modular ramps are heavier, less mobile, and require a more meticulous approach to ramp design. With Roll-a-Ramps, you can reach high access points and entry areas without worrying about anchoring your structure, setting up railings or improving stability.
This home accessibility aid comes with yellow plastic caution covers, handrails and grooved aluminum floors, and is designed to accommodate wheelchairs, scooters and power chairs. Roll-a-Ramp’s durable aluminum chassis makes it suitable for the outdoors, and can be left outside all year long.
For more information on Roll-a-Ramps or other home accessibility solutions, click here.
Navigating steep stairs can be a daunting task for any individual, and tends to be beyond the capacities of most people with reduced mobility. Built with user independence in mind, stair lifts give disabled persons the option to move around the house without assistance and are available in two different configurations (straight and curved).
Bruno’s Stairlift Elan Model SRE 3000 is the perfect home accessibility aid for those whose homes feature straight staircases. With a weight capacity of 300lbs, this high-quality device is designed to provide a smooth ride. The stair lift’s vertical rail makes your chair hug the wall, freeing up space on the steps.
If your home layout features a curved staircase, then the Handicare 2000 may be the perfect home accessibility aid for you. This device is designed to climb up any kind of staircase and is both lightweight and compact. With arm rests, a padded backrest, a footplate and other high-quality accessories, the Handicare 2000 sets the standard for stair lift safety and design.
Threshold wheelchair ramps are custom designed to make crossing raised thresholds safer and easier. No home can be considered fully wheelchair accessible without these accessories, as entering and exiting rooms and buildings can be dangerous or cumbersome without them. Threshold ramps come in a range of sizes, heights, and colors, and should be installed in doorways to cover gaps, crevices, or cables.
Easy to install and constructed of high-impact endurance rubber, the Pride Mobility Rubber Threshold Ramp is the perfect option for those who want to make doorways easier to navigate. This device can be used both indoors and outdoors, and features a slightly raised arch that provides ample clearance over floor tracks and sliding door guides. If you’re looking for a threshold ramp with a high weight capacity and great portability, take a look at the Pride Mobility Folding Ramp.
Automatic Door Openers
Opening and closing doors can be an everyday challenge for those with reduced mobility or the wheelchair dependent. Shifts in the air pressure or a gust of wind can cause a door to open or close suddenly, causing injuries to hands and legs or even producing falls. Automatic door openers are designed to unlatch a locked door and open it smoothly and silently, and keeping it open.
The Open Sesame Resident Package is a great safety device, and comes with a reliable door release mechanism which can be programmed to respond to a remote control mounted on your wheelchair. Strong and easy to use, this automatic door opener is the perfect addition to your wheelchair accessible home. If you’re looking for a low-energy alternative, take a look at the 6100 Series ADA Low Energy Operator. This motor-powered mechanical door operator can transform any standard door into a fully automated swinging device.
For more information on wheelchair ramps, stair lifts, and other home accessibility solutions, be sure to contact one of our trained professionals. Individual needs may vary according to the layout of your home, aerobic strength, and budget, so feel free to get in touch for a free in-home consultation.