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Remodeling a Home for Disabled Homeowners

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Raised Consciousness of Independent Living and Sparked New Coping Products

© 2011 by Kelly R. Smith

Photo of Kelly R. Smith

President Bush signs Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

President Bush signs Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

This article was updated on 09/01/21.

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Federal and state legislation like the Disabilities Act of 1990 raised consciousness about our handicapped and often-overlooked citizens. It also prompted research and development of disabled-accessible construction technology products like the talking thermostat. President Bush signed it into legislation. Bush may not have as many accomplishments as Theodore Roosevelt when it comes to domestic policy but this was huge.

That’s one of the advantages of our capitalist economic system, love it or hate it; the demand for improved goods and services precedes innovation, and this generally improves our lives. Truly successful architects, engineers, remodeling contractors, and interior decorators stay ahead of the curve and educate themselves. Liberal socialists like Bernie Sanders on the other hand, stifle innovation and make life worse for all of us.

If you are considering remodeling a home that you or other challenged people occupy, it’s important to do your homework and learn what aids are available; more are being introduced all the time. In fact, many are mandated by building code. One that I particularly like for ease-of-use and home security is the Ring Doorbell.

Programmable Digital Thermostats Aid Legally Blind and Visual-Impaired Residents

One of the most impressive thermostats on the market for the blind and visual-impaired is the Kelvin Voice Activated Talking Programmable Thermostat. After someone invented the Clap On, Clap Off light switch, this development was inevitable.

This thermostat is both programmable and voice-interactive. Pushing the control buttons makes it describes the button’s function verbally. Then the user tells the thermostat which setting to use. Done.

Bathroom Fixtures for the Handicapped

Bathroom grab bars and handrails are the most common of these bathroom fixtures. These’re very important for the safety of mobility-impaired people entering and exiting the bath as well as sitting down or getting up from the toilet. During a bathroom remodeling project, you must install wood backing between the wall studs to secure these devices. Check your local building code.

There are also sinks available that are designed to be 27” to 30’ off the floor. This allows the wheelchair-bound to get as close as possible. There are also sinks on the market up to 40” high to aid residents who have trouble bending or leaning over.

Roll-in showers and walk-in bathtubs are becoming more popular for people with mobility challenges. A remodeling contractor can install one as a quick project.

Kitchen Design Tips for the Disabled

Your kitchen is an important area of your home for specialized outfitting. Countertops and sinks have special height considerations. They should be adjusted height-wise and also allow enough overhang for wheelchair users.

Note also that very short people have these same considerations. Something else to consider for wheelchair users is mounting fog-free mirrors over your working surfaces as well as your stove. This will allow you to view things while avoiding pushing up out of the chair.

Install Wheelchair Lifts and Ramps

Ramps will almost always need to be custom-built on your site. Why? Because your existing situation is likely to be so unique that Home Depot isn’t going to stock them. On the other hand, wheelchair lifts are commercially available for a wide variety of situations. For example, porch lifts are basically exterior elevators. These can be an ideal solution for houses built on stilts.

Then we have stair lifts. These are chairs that run up and down your staircase on a rail. You've likely seen these in the movies. If you have a swimming pool, pool lifts are available to move someone in and out of the water.

The moral of the story is that just because someone is handicapped or disabled doesn’t mean they must give up independent living. Today, it is easier than ever before because of the array of constantly evolving products. Take advantage of them when Remodeling a home for disabled homeowners.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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