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10 Ways to Make Your Home More Handicap Accessible

More than 56 million people in the U.S. have some type of physical disability, according to the 2010 census. Whether someone needs help in the kitchen and bathroom or more space to maneuver a wheelchair around the house, here are 10 ways to make your home more handicap accessible.

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shutterstock_70925482 walker handicap accessible wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Widen Doorways

Many wheelchairs and walkers are too wide to easily maneuver through doorways. Widening doorways can be a costly job (up to $1,000 in some cases), but you can use some offset hinges to help swing the door clear of the opening to inexpensively add a couple inches of space.

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shutterstock_187933352 wheelchair ramp handicap accessible riopatuca/Shutterstock

Build a Ramp

A ramp to a doorway will not only help those in wheelchairs, but anyone with mobility difficulties. To build a ramp you’ll likely need a permit, so check local building codes before you begin construction.

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shutterstock_665922526 bathroom grab barsMyibean/Shutterstock

Add Grab Bars

Grab bars will help with stability in the bathroom—especially around the shower and toilet. A standard 1-1/2-inch diameter bar works for most people’s grip.

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Install a Riser

A toilet riser can make it easier for those who have trouble bending over or standing up and sitting down. Risers can be purchased at home improvement and many drug stores, and usually, cost less than $50.

Photo: Courtesy of Muscular Dystrophe Canada

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shutterstock_555797377 step in shower bathroomArtazum/Shutterstock

Step-In Showers

Bathtubs, with their high sides, can cause problems for those with mobility issues. Instead, think about converting the space to a step-in shower. Install a shower bench for even more support.

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shutterstock_80066764 install hardwood flooringMichael Pettigrew/Shutterstock

Rethink Flooring

Rugs and thick carpeting can not only make it difficult for those in wheelchairs and with walkers, but they can also be a tripping hazard for everyone. Consider hardwood flooring, vinyl or ceramic tile.

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shutterstock_280796900 handicap accessible kitchen wheelchair handicap accessible homesAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Arrange Your Kitchen for Accessibility

Those looking to make handicap accessible homes may have to make some changes to their kitchen. Try arranging appliances near the sink and counters to make tasks easier to perform. Move everyday items into lower cabinets for easy access.

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shutterstock_104450279 closet dress shirtsJenny Sturm/Shutterstock

Lower Closet Rods

Consider lowering closet rods to make it easier to reach clothing. A height of about 2 feet from the floor will help those in wheelchairs.

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shutterstock_1798021 door knob handleskaren roach/Shutterstock

Replace Knob Handles

Turning doorknobs and some faucets can be a challenge for those with dexterity and hand coordination issues. Replace those round doorknobs and faucet handles with lever handles.

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shutterstock_380349256 living room wheelchair XiXinXing/Shutterstock

Consider Furniture Placement

To allow ease of movement, make a path of at least 32 inches between furniture pieces. You may also need to raise furniture to help some people sit comfortably. You can achieve this with furniture coasters or small blocks of wood that are secured to the legs of the furniture.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.