Easy Living Wheelchair Friendly Interior Environments

What is an easy living environment for a person with disability / ies? It is the ability to maintain independence when completing personal tasks, daily living activities, and hobbies as easily as possible. An individual’s self-motivation, purpose and attitude are critical to achieving independence.

It needs to be understood that not all people who use wheelchairs are not able to move in any way. The use of a wheelchair is to move/transport a person from one location to the other. Once at the new destination the person may be able to stand/ swivel/ use a toilet/ dining chair / bed. There are some disabled people who do require a Carers to assist them.

In a residential environment, unimpeded or barrier free access between all areas is mandatory.
Initial requirements to achieve a barrier free interior environment:
• Level interior floor spaces;
• No step entrances (What is a no-step entrance, 3 December 2020);
• Ramps (Ramp it up, 5 November 2020, Turning circles for wheelchairs, 19 November 2020);
• Generous circulation space, maintain interesting, homely intermit spaces;
• Wider passages with turning circles, and wider doorways;
• Sliding doors into a space are easier to open and close than swing doors;
• Remove loose mats and obstacles in passages.

Items to include in an interior:
• Plan for accessible storage of equipment / wheelchair / reacher when not in use.
• Raise the height of beds and lounge furniture
• Handrails next to toilets, showers and baths are essential. (There will be future blogs with accessible bathroom designs for people who use wheelchairs)
• Height of standard counters in the kitchen is problematic. Use a freestanding table or bar stool that is height adjustable as an interim solution. (There will be future blogs with accessible kitchen designs for people who use wheelchairs)

Image shows a lady sitting in an upholstered armchair using a reacher. A reacher is an aluminium rod with pinchers on the end used to pick up a remote that has fallen onto the floor.
Reacher used to pick up dropped remote control https://www.sanbonani.co.za/reachers
Image shows a reclining chair in an extended up right position to assist the sitter with action of standing up from the chair. The chair is upholstered and finished in a blue fabric
A reclining chair that lifts and tilts forward to facilitate easier lift to standing position from the chair. https://www.theilc.co.za/shop/product/lift-out-recliner-chairs/milano-lifting-recliner-dual-motor-with-massage-and-heating-

The need for adaptive environments is not limited to the physically disabled, but extends to the elderly, pregnant women, small children, dwarfism, and others. Some of the medical names for the physically disabled are paraplegia, quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, hemiplegia, cerebral palsy, absence of a limb or reduced limb function, muscle dystrophy and polio.

Universal design principles are applicable for both able bodied or disabled people to have equitable use and functionality from an environment. A disability can be temporary or permanent, however, by applying the universal principles at the commencement of construction, a home environment will be prepared for all eventualities, including the ageing process. +

One comment

  1. This is really informative and there is so much that able body people don’t think about. I will definitely be passing this on, if I may.

    Many thanks


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