Three critical areas for accessibility in the home are entrances, bathrooms, and kitchens. There are several attractive, universal solutions to entrance accessibility that do not involve building a ramp. In new construction, grading the lot and placing the house so that the house floor and entrance level are close to ground level eliminates the need for a ramp. If you are planning a garage, and local building codes allow, build it with a sloping floor so that the door into the house provides a level entrance. Using an earth fill to gently build up the ground level near the entrance, or building an attractive bridge that goes from a point on the lot that is at the same level as the entrance, creates a universal entrance. For existing homes with no more than a two step entrance, the earth fill strategy is ideal.
Bathrooms and Kitchens
Several manufacturers make universal kitchen and bathroom cabinet components. These include cabinets with higher toe kicks and lower counters to accommodate wheelchairs. Both bathroom and kitchen sinks should provide clear knee space. If you choose cabinets for under the sink, choose ones with doors that fold out to provide knee space; some units can be pulled out entirely. Other cabinets allow upper shelves to be lowered into a convenient reach range for people who are short or who are seated in a wheelchair. Pantry units are available with rotating shelves and full-extension drawer units can be specified so that rear contents can be reached. Side-by-side refrigerators with shelves that easily pull out increase usability for a variety of consumers. For the bathroom, several companies make accessible, prefabricated, curbless showers so that people can enter a shower without stepping over a curb, or seated in a shower chair. Some bathroom sinks mount on the wall leaving a clear space underneath. For conventional bath tubs, locate lever faucet controls on the near side of the tub to avoid reaching.
Specific publications about universal design for entrances, kitchens and bathrooms can be found in the publications list .