If you use a wheelchair or walking aid daily, and have difficulty climbing stairs to reach your front door—it may be time to consider making adjustments at home.
Home accessibility aids can go a long way towards promoting the health and quality of life for people with mobility challenges and limitations, and they are safe and straightforward to use.
There is a wide range of ramps, stair lifts, and other devices on the market, so picking the right equipment can become quite overwhelming. We have put together this comprehensive guide to home accessibility aids to help you make the right choice. We start by sharing some of the common home improvement mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.
With their slippery surfaces, steep rises, and lack of proper railing, stairs and entryways can be hazardous for any member of the household, especially for those with reduced mobility and upper body strength.
Installing a home accessibility aid can be complicated, as structures must comply with both local building codes and mandated ramp safety regulations and standards. Before undertaking improvements to create your wheelchair-accessible home, make sure you account for several variables, including slope rise, ramp length, drop-offs, and potential obstacles, such as trees or walls.
Poorly constructed ramps pose a risk to both wheelchair users and other members of the household and cost time and effort to replace. Whether you’re installing a wooden, modular, or Roll-a-Ramp structure, steep rises should be avoided in all cases. As a rule, your ramp should have only one inch of rise for every 12 inches of run.
Devising your layout is another important aspect of proper wheelchair ramp construction, as you may have to incorporate a switchback or U-shaped design to keep your ramp’s rise low and smooth.
Handicap ramps should be at least 40 inches wide and feature both handrails and non-skid surfaces for added transfer safety in wet or snowy weather. Uneven surfaces, poor structural support, inadequately-sized landings, and high curbs are other hazards that should be avoided when installing ramps or trying to make your home wheelchair-friendly.
According to research carried out by the Ministry of Health of British Columbia, ramps reduce the risks of falls among the elderly and are recommended as a primary preventive measure. Ideally, wheelchair ramps should be an extension of your home, ensuring smooth transfers in and out of raised porches and hard-to-reach landings.
Landscape ramps such as the one pictured above provide a safe, gentle slope, but may be unsuitable in homes with steep front steps. Structural wheelchair ramps can be set up to accommodate an array of home exterior designs and layouts, adopting different configurations (straight, switch-back, U-shaped, or L-shaped) depending on the dimensions of your home entryway. Built for use with scooters, walkers, and power chairs, structural ramps are both versatile and highly functional and come in permanent and portable designs.
Modular Wheelchair Ramps
Constructed of durable, weather-resistant materials, modular ramps provide a permanent fix to all your home accessibility needs. Modular wheelchair ramps are easy to transport and install and are designed to facilitate several different configurations, including L and U-shaped setups. This home accessibility aid is relatively simple to service and can be upgraded with applications that make wheelchair transfer easier.
Wheelchair ramps are safe to use all year round, provided you take the necessary precautions when moving in wet or icy conditions. Canopies or covers and heating coils may be necessary during winter months to prevent ice build-up on pathways and other important outdoor structures.
The Roll-A-Ramp is one of the most popular modular ramp systems available in Vancouver now. It is lightweight, ultra-portable, easy to assemble, and a great option for temporary stays or quick getaways.
Roll-a-Ramp modules are linkable, which means that your ramp run can be lengthened or shortened according to your needs. With Roll-a-Ramps, you can reach high access points and entry areas without worrying about anchoring your structure, setting up railings, or improving stability.
This home accessibility aid works perfectly with handrails on one or both sides, has grooved aluminum floors, and is designed to accommodate wheelchairs, scooters, and power chairs. Roll-a-Ramp’s durable aluminum chassis makes it suitable for the outdoors and can be left outside all year long.
Threshold wheelchair ramps are custom designed to make crossing raised thresholds safer and easier. No home can be considered fully wheelchair accessible without these accessories, as entering and exiting rooms and buildings can be dangerous or cumbersome even with slightly uneven flooring or threshold. Threshold ramps come in a range of sizes, heights, and colors, and should be installed in doorways to cover gaps, crevices, or cables.
Easy to install and constructed of high-impact endurance rubber, our rubber threshold ramps are the perfect option for those who want to make doorways easier to navigate. This device can be used indoors and outdoors and features a slightly raised arch that provides ample clearance over floor tracks and sliding door guides. These threshold ramps feature high weight capacity and great portability.
The multifold ramp provides great convenience and adjustability as it separates into two pieces for easy carrying – you can even fold it and carry it like a suitcase. Its lightweight design makes it very user-friendly because it is easy to handle and set up.
The Multifold Ramp accommodates wheelchairs and scooters with various wheel configurations. Its full platform design provides excellent stability for all sorts of users.
Navigating steep stairs can be a daunting task for any individual, and tends to be beyond the capacities of most people with reduced mobility. Built with user independence in mind, stair lifts give disabled persons the option to move around the house without assistance and are available in two different configurations (straight and curved).
Bruno’s Elan Stair Lift SRE-3050 is a good choice for homes with straight staircases. With a weight capacity of 300lbs, this high-quality device is designed to provide a smooth ride. The stair lift’s vertical rail makes your chair hug the wall, freeing up space on the steps.
If you have a curved staircase in your home, Bruno’s Elite Curved Stair Lift is a great option as a home accessibility aid for you. This device is designed to climb up any kind of staircase and is both lightweight and compact. With its offset swivel seat, flip-up arms & folding footrest/seat, and other high-quality accessories, the Bruno’s Elite Curved Stari Lift set the standard for stair lift safety and design.
Home accessibility aids can be life-changing for those struggling with mobility issues, and they’re designed to help maintain independence for long-term use. The solutions you need will vary, depending on the layout of your home, abilities, and budget.
Every home is unique. Our no-obligation expert recommendations are specially tailored to each space and needs, and will be provided after our FREE in-home consultation. Our service area includes Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
Mia Chua is an offshore team member of Home2stay, managing marketing, content creation and assisting with overall operations. Accessibility and inclusivity are global issues, and she has big dreams to someday bring what she learns from Home2stay to influence positive changes to her own country across the globe.
Prior to joining Home2stay, she worked in operations and marketing in the real estate and fast-moving consumer goods industries.
Her interests include picking up new skills, cooking and baking, health and wellness, technology and social issues.