Every year, thousands of people worldwide suffer from diseases or injuries that require them to use a wheelchair.
What type of impact does this have on society? If you are the loved one of one of those who must use a wheelchair, you may need to perform wheelchair accessible construction on the home to make it easier for them to move around and reach things.
If you are the owner of a business, federal law may require that you make your facilities handicap accessible. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that public accommodations meet certain standards as to not discriminate against the handicapped, including those in wheelchairs.
What type of wheelchair accessible construction are you looking at? Homes as well as businesses should have wheelchair ramps, grab bars and handrails, and commercial washroom accessories. If you are helping a person with a wheelchair with their home, you will want something for them to sit on while showering, so a folding shower or tub seat will be necessary.
As far as wheelchair ramps, there are many types from which to choose.
There are modular wheelchair ramps (strong, yet portable and affordable)
Solid wheelchair ramps (one piece - more desirable if a permanent ramp is needed)
Folding wheelchair ramp (durable and lightweight for travel)
Threshold wheelchair ramps (specifically designed for doorways).
You will want to ensure the safety of any ramp you purchase, so as the dealer if it is ADA compliant. A slip resistance high traction surface is very important to have.
You will need to ask yourself if the ramp will ever need to be carried with the individual that needs it. If so, you may want something lightweight so it can be easily moved.
Many dealers offer aluminum ramps, which are sturdy yet lightweight. Check to see how easy and quick it is to set up the ramp.
One of the most important parts of wheelchair accessible construction in a home or business are bars and handrails. Grab bars and handrails are great accessories to have for those in wheelchairs, especially in the restrooms.
These bars and handrails provide stability and extra support for those who need it. Handrails can also be used beside a ramp and is especially helpful if the ramp is very long. It helps the individual keep their balance and provides safety.
Grab bars should be mounted securely. This involves screwing the hardware directly into wall studs or wood blocking. The ADA says that handrails must be securely anchored, mounted between 34 and 38 inches high, projected from the wall 1 1/2 inches, and the ends must be rounded off for safety.
Shower and tub seating is also a very important part of making a home ready for someone using a wheelchair. There are different types of seating including L-shaped shower seats and folding tub seats. It will probably be more convenient to have the seats mounted to the wall, rather than have seats that the individual has to place in and out of the tub.
The most important thing when working with wheelchair accessible construction is safety and security. Please ensure that all additions made are safe for the person to use and comply with ADA standards.