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Easter Seals and the CENTURY 21 System's Easy Access Housing for Easier Living Program

A Safe Home is No Accident: A Checklist for your Family

Many accessibility problems can be avoided or eliminated by making minor structural changes or by utilizing any number of adaptive aids on the market. The following is a brief list of common accessibility problems and some possible adaptations:

Narrow doors:


1) Remove the door.
2) Install special hinges.
3) Swing the door in the opposite direction.
4) Consider widening the doorway.

Round knob fixtures / hardware:

Replace with lever or handle style.

Switches, outlets and thermostats located too, high / low:

Use available products for remote control operation of switches and outlets; attach extensions to switches; lower thermostat.

Lack of maneuvering room in the kitchen for wheelchair:

Consider removing some base cabinets to provide maneuvering room and knee spaces under countertops.

Wall cabinets that are too high:

Lower existing cabinets, add some new cabinets or add a freestanding storage cabinet.

High countertops:

Substitute a drop leaf cart with wheels. Leaf can be raised for food preparation and cart can be rolled to stove and refrigerator.

Standard fire alarms:

For persons with hearing disabilities, install visual alarm systems that are triggered to go off when the standard alarm does.

Standard doorbells:

Again, visual devices can be attached to the doorbell, even the door itself, to alert persons with hearing disabilities to visitors.

Standard height bathroom fixtures:

Most hospital and medical supply companies carry products that can be added on to standard toilets to raise the seat height. Many types of adaptive bath tub and shower aids are also on the market.

These are just a few adaptations that are possible to increase the accessibility and comfort of a home occupied by a person with a disability, or a person with functional limitations due to aging. There are numerous companies that offer products designed to improve the accessibility and ease of living in a given house. For information on specific accessibility problems or adaptive techniques or aids, here are some resources for you to contact.

Designing, building and remodeling with "barrier free" living in mind is desirable and logical. Wider doors and hallways, ground-level entrances and an accessible ground-level bathroom are all elements that create a warm, inviting, aesthetic home that can be enjoyed by everyone. As America "comes of age," barrier-free housing is a first step toward easy living for one and all.