Handicap Accessibility in Your Home or Business

Wheelchair Accessibility buildings and homes in Seattle, WA

The Department of Justice has estimated that approximately 18% of our population has a disability, including physical, mental, vision or hearing related, along with many others.

The DOJ also estimates that around 71.5 million Baby Boomers will be above the age of 65 by 2030. When people get older, they inevitably experience reduced vision, hearing or balance. Business and homeowners should probably start keeping limited mobility in mind when building and designing retail store layouts, homes, walkways, stairs and bathrooms.

People with disabilities and the millions more that struggle with some type of limited mobility want to live their life unencumbered just like everyone else. One of their primary concerns in that regard is having easy access to places and services necessary for their daily lives.

Equal Access

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was created to ensure equal access for persons with disabilities in everyday life.

This comprehensive piece of legislation covers a number of facets of life, including access to public spaces and businesses, public transportation modifications, employment opportunities, the ability to purchase goods and services and the freedom to equally utilizing government services and programs.

Since 1990, there are standards and requirements that businesses must meet in order to be ADA compliant. Some of the ADA’s standards underwent an overhaul in 2010, resulting in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

Making a Home More Accessible for Loved Ones With Disabilities or Limited Mobility

Residential homes do not have the same ADA requirements that commercial businesses do, but there are still ways to make your home more handicap accessible. A traditional home layout with normal-width doorframes or lots of stairs can be difficult to navigate for family members or friends with limited mobility or ones who use a walker or wheelchair.

The extent to which you want to modify your home really depends on how frequently someone with limited mobility will be in the residence.

If you or your spouse will need to use a wheelchair or walker for the foreseeable future, it may be worth your time to put in chair lifts, walk-in or roll-in no-threshold showers/tubs and widen doorways. If you have a parent who stays with you for a week once a year, consider maybe only partially modifying one of your bathrooms or invest in a temporary ramp for your front door. The extent of your modifications really depends on your own preferences and needs.

Maybe the biggest improvement a homeowner can make is expanding doorways and widening entryways to between 32 and 36 inches wide. This step alone will allow easier access and entry to your home.

In addition to making your home more accessible in the short term, these modifications could appeal to future buyers who may be looking for those types of modifications in a home.

Other areas of home improvement you might consider when trying to make your residence more handicap-friendly are:

  • Lowered sinks and countertops
  • Cabinets on the ground-level
  • Enough open space for wheelchairs to make turns (in hallways and rooms)
  • Safety bars for tubs and showers
  • Light switches and thermostats in more convenient or reachable locations
  • Ramps or stair lifts
  • Roll-in showers
  • Raised toilets
  • Handicap-friendly flooring
  • Eliminate thresholds

Door thresholds and carpeting may not seem like big hurdles, but these features can prove extremely problematic for people in wheelchairs. Similarly, tile with deep grout or divots between sections can also be a problem for those who move around with the help of a cane or walker.

We Know Structural Modifications

Not every company is capable of widening doorways or modifying walls the way Procraft can.

We’re not your average replacement window company that can only install one-size-fits-all windows. Procraft Windows is one of the few Seattle door and window installation and replacement companies that actually employs Journeymen Carpenters to make new openings and structural modifications.

These skills aren’t just useful for adding new custom windows and doors to homes, they are also invaluable for making these types of mobility-enhancing modifications.

Quality is hugely important to our team, especially for these types of modifications where our customers’ safety and comfort depends on our work. If you want to start planning modifications to make your home easier and safer to navigate, give us a call at 260.361.5121.

Business or Commercial Spaces

ADA standards aren’t recommendations; businesses are legally required to adhere to all ADA regulations. There is no regulatory ADA police that go around checking to make sure each business has all the proper signage at all the proper heights or that their handicap spots are the correct width, but businesses that fail to adhere to ADA standards leave themselves vulnerable to ADA lawsuits.

All members of the public should have equal access to the goods or services your business provides.  According to the ADA, businesses that provide goods or services are called “public accommodations” and include 12 categories:

  • Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Service establishments
  • Theaters
  • Hotels
  • Recreational facilities
  • Private museums
  • Schools
  • Doctors' and dentists' offices
  • Shopping malls
  • Other businesses

Some important areas to be aware of regarding your business’s location are:

  • Entryways to your facility or building (including ramps, push buttons or elevators)
  • Accessible restrooms
  • Doorway width
  • Counter and shelf heights
  • Required number of handicap parking spaces (and proper width)
  • Adequately wide routes to goods and services such as aisles or hallways

Business owners that need or want to make structural updates to become or maintain ADA compliance may qualify for tax credits to help offset the costs of modification.

Some of the ADA modifications that are eligible for tax write-offs include:

  • Barrier removal
  • Attempts to improve accessibility such as ramps, elevators or lifts
  • Sign language interpreters (video or in-person)
  • Cost of making materials available in a variety of formats such as braille, large print or audio versions

Get Help Making Your Home More Accessible

The average entryway doors may not work if your goal is to make your home a more accessible place for yourself or family who are using wheelchairs or walkers. If you’re looking for a Seattle window and door company that knows how to make entryways up to code and install the most durable, easy-to-use, high-quality doors, look no further than Procraft Windows.

Whether you need double pane reglazing, French door installation or anything else window or door related, our team can help.

Schedule an in-home or virtual free estimate and design meeting today by calling 260.361.5121.

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