There are as many remedies for handicapped living as there are handicaps.Each person needs very individual modifications, but there are some basics.
One of the biggest issues for a person with a hearing disability is hearing the phone or doorbell ring.The solution to this is having a flashing light or strobe light that flashes whenever there is a call or someone at the door.
For a vision impairment, there are not a lot of modifications needed.A person must become very methodical about life – counting steps to everything, always putting everything in its place.
Making a house handicapped accessible for a wheelchair or walker probably require the most modifications but is not as difficult as you may think.Things to consider are the entry, door widths, counter heights and bathing options.Space throughout the home is critical.Rooms need to be big enough to allow maneuverability.The bedroom is an area that may be accommodating various extra pieces of equipment such as the chair, lifts, shower chairs, etc. so needs to be quite large.
The entry will usually require a ramp and that may be the biggest challenge.Ideally, a ramp should be one foot long for each inch of height.That translates into a 44 foot ramp if there are four steps to get into the home - this includes the final step into the home (the stoop).The angle of the ramp is a very individual thing depending on the disability and how much strength the person has to push up the ramp.Another thing to consider is the threshold.Thresholds can be as much as two inches high.Again, depending on the disability and the bluntness of the stoop, those two inches could create another challenge – or another ramp.Sliding doors tracks are frequently quite high and can be damaged by wheelchairs, so a French door may be a good modification.
Widening a door is probably the easiest modification to make.Required door widths are determined by the angle going into the room, the width of the hallway and the width of the wheelchair.A 36 inch door usually will accommodate a standard width chair for any angle.The door also needs to swing entirely out of the way when open – not partially blocking the opening.
Counter heights are a very expensive change and most people in chairs live with the counters the way they are.Some chairs have an option of adjustable heights going as high as bar height.Some people request to have an area with no cupboards under the counter so that they pull up to the counter to work.Another issue is tables – they need to be high enough to pull underneath and not hit table legs and/or support braces.
The bathroom modifications for a wheelchair are usually the hardest and most expensive because they require additional space.Sometimes a small bedroom adjacent to the current bath is modified into an expanded bath.A free standing sink is important so that the person can pull up to the sink.Depending on the disability, the toilet may need extra space to park the chair beside the stool. If the person is wheelchair bound, a roll in shower will take up 1 ½ to 2 times the space of a tub.Again, maneuverability of the chair is an issue, so there has to be space!A handicapped supply store can offer many options to assist with the stool and shower.
Below are some service providers that we have found to be knowledgable and helpful.
Remodeling By Draughn Construction Co. Larry E. Draughn 515.254.0805
KFL Richard Bason General Contractor 515.771.3395
Advanced Rehab Technologies 3936 NW Urbandale Drive Urbandale, IA 50322
A Medical Equipment Store where they know and care what your needs are
Cedar Valley Mobility 8832 Swanson Blvd. Clive, IA 50325
Direct: 515.440.6641 Fax: 515.440.6642
A Medical Equipment Store - More General Equipment
Iowa Department for the Blind 524 Fourth Street Des Moines, IA 50309-2364
Iowa's free, statewide information and referral service for people with disabilities, their families, service providers, and other members of the community. They maintain information on over 5,500 local, state, and national agencies and programs.