Accessible Modifications for Your Home
Most homes aren’t designed with accessibility in mind for people with disabilities. Whether someone is born with an impairment or acquires a disability later in life, certain home modifications may be necessary to improve his or her quality of living.
Find the Experts
For parents raising a child with a physical impairment or for a person adjusting to a newly acquired disability, the thought of renovating a home can seem overwhelming. Without a good understanding of what modifications are available and necessary, it can be a daunting project to take on. In these situations, it is recommended to seek the advice of several different experts. For example, a person with a brachial plexus injury like Klumpke’s palsy may have reduced mobility in their hand, arm, or shoulder, making certain tasks within the home difficult. Consulting an occupational therapist could result in several suggested home modifications to meet that individual’s needs. A person who uses a wheelchair might consider hiring a contractor or designer who is familiar with ADA level accessibility. They will be able to ensure spaces and home features are designed to increase mobility rather than limit it further.
Other experts you might speak with include:
- Vocational Therapists
- U.S. Department of Housing and Development Agents
- Universal Design Specialists
- Adaptive Equipment and Assistive Technology Procurement Experts
- Architectural Design Engineers
- Real Estate Specialists
Research Product Solutions
After consulting and hiring your team of experts, it’s important to not only consider their recommendations but to also to do some research yourself. You might find new products meant to help people with disabilities, or you might find a solution in an unlikely place. A timely example of the latter surrounds the latest boom in smart home technology like digital home security systems and home automation features. While designed to improve a homeowner’s comfort and safety, people with disabilities have discovered even greater benefits of this modification. Someone who is dependent on a caretaker or family member for simple tasks can lock the doors in their home, turn off the lights, and adjust the thermostat all from a tablet or mobile device. Some home tech companies are also adding features like wearable medical alert devices or emergency monitoring to offer individuals with disabilities a greater sense of security and the option to live independently. Finding these new and improved solutions can make planning your home renovation that much easier.
Learn About Your Financial Options
Not everyone has emergency funds saved for situations like this. In the event of an accident or injury, debt is often a threat with looming medical bills and long-term care costs. However, there are resources available for people adjusting their home to accommodate their disabilities.
- People with disabilities may have the right to a legal claim. A family whose child suffered a birth injury like Cerebral palsy due to medical malpractice could sue the medical facility or attending physician. A person injured in a motor vehicle accident could seek justice and compensation from the culpable driver.
- Another option that allows people with disabilities to finance a major home improvement project is a Section 203(k) loan. This allows people to purchase or refinance their home and pay for necessary modifications. As a government-backed loan, this option offers security to the lender, making it more available to a broader group of people who need it.
- Finally, there are organizations that aim to provide resources to people interested in independent living. Your local Council of Independent Living, for example, might have funds specifically allocated to be used for home modifications for homeowners and renters in the area.
Again, not every home renovation for people living with disabilities will look the same. Planning, designing, and executing this type of remodel should be unique and specific to the needs of the intended family or individual. While it’s a large undertaking, putting a great deal of research and effort into the initial planning can reap huge benefits and result in a comfortable and accessible home.