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Remodeling for a disability: issues to consider

Your quick guide to remodeling for a disability, whether physical, visual or auditory.

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Remodeling for a disability includes both interior and exterior work. You should have a low sink and handles that can be pushed up and down or side-to-side. Photo by Jer Kunz on Flickr.Some disabilities make it difficult to perform physical or cognitive tasks. Remodeling for a disability is a good way to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. Learn more about remodeling for a disability before hiring a contractor to do the work.

Accommodations for physical disabilities

If you are remodeling to accommodate someone who uses a wheelchair, you must inspect the interior and exterior of your home to determine what changes are needed. If you are remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, consider installing a shallow sink or a sink that has extended handles that are easy to move. These features make it easier for the disabled to wash their hands, wash dishes, fill glasses with water, and perform other basic tasks.

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You must also consider the height of built-in features when remodeling for someone who uses a wheelchair. You may need to install low countertops or stoves to ensure that the person can use them comfortably. Cabinets with sliding doors are easier to open than cabinets with doors that must be pulled outward.

Remodeling for a disability is more than just widening doorways and making sure a person can get around in a wheelchair. You may also need to remodel a home for someone who has impaired vision or hearing.

Accommodations for visual disabilities

If you are remodeling with a visual disability in mind, make sure you install a stove that has contrasting colors. Dark burners on a light surface will help someone who is partially blind identify hot areas and avoid burns.

Natural light makes it easier for someone with a visual impairment to see, so consider installing a skylight or large windows so the home gets a lot of natural light.

You should also consider installing indirect lighting for use when natural light is not available. This type of lighting reduces glare, making it easier to see.

Accommodations for hearing disabilities

For someone who is hearing impaired, basic tasks such as having a conversation or watching television may be difficult. When remodeling for a disability, consider making changes that block out noises and make it easier to hear inside the home. Installing thick carpets instead of wood floors helps dampen sound and makes it easier to hear. Draperies and upholstered furniture can also dampen excess noise.

Consider installing separate switches for the light and exhaust fan in the bathroom. This makes it possible to use the bathroom light without having to deal with the extra noise of the fan. Quieter appliances, extra doorbell chimes and built-in vacuum systems are other changes that could make life easier for someone with hearing loss.

Learning more about physical and cognitive disabilities will help you understand what renovations are needed for accommodating disabilities. When you are ready to start a remodeling project, use Reply! to find a local contractor who has experience completing this type of residential remodeling project. With the right contractor, remodeling for a disability does not have to be difficult.

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Photo credit: Jer Kunz via Compfight CC.