For many people, accessibility and mobility are a challenge. If you need a little help to stay mobile, you will need to consider the design of your door. This is something that people with defined requirements such as wheelchair users will need to consider as well as those who just need a bit of extra help when they want to move around.
As the population ages, this is becoming more important. In fact, 18% of the UK population is over 65 and this will increase to 25% by the year 2046. Remodelling and re-thinking the design of your home can help it fit your changing needs as you age. This is something you should consider for friends and family who already have these requirements as well as yourself in the future.
Improving the Entrance Door Accessibility
The design of your entrance door is vital to helping people with limited mobility live a more independent life. There are many things that good door design will be able to help with including minimising the risks of injury while the move. Falls are something to consider as government figures have shown that a third of people aged 65 and over as well as half the people aged 80 and over have fallen in the last year.
This can cause injuries, pain, loss of confidence and distress. Adding a handrail to the entrance area or a ramp can improve accessibility and reduce the risk associated with the entrance.
Something else that needs to be considered is the reliability and easy operation of the door. PVC-U and composite doors are considered maintenance free. They are also resistant to warping and twisting which is something that can happen to timber doors. When this happens, the operation of the door can be affected.
A low threshold will also need to consider and this is very important. The threshold of your standard door will generally be 70mm. This height has been set to improve the thermal efficiency of the door sealing. The problem is that this can be a challenge for people with limited mobility. Wheelchairs can also have a hard time getting over this threshold. A low threshold of 12mm will improve access for all people.
Wheelchair Access Doors
If you are a wheelchair user, there are certain factors that you need to consider. One of the most important will be the minimum effective clear opening widths or ECW. Guidelines suggest that the best ECW will be 900mm, but this is not something that can always be achieved with an older property.
There are also some other practical considerations that need to be taken into account. Standard wheelchairs will need a space of 1500mm by 1500mm to turn 360 degrees. This means that there should be a clear space inside the door that allows for this.
The doors should also open wider than 90 degrees to allow wheelchair users to pass without any problems. To support this, a minimum of 300mm of clear space will be needed between the wall and the opening edge of the door.
Modifying Windows for Better Accessibility
Many people do not realise that a good window design can also have a big impact on the mobility, quality of life, and independence of older people, wheelchair users, and those with limited mobility also being able to provide sound proof windows if needed. The modifications will include the lowering of the window height to accommodate wheelchair users. The choice of handle also needs to be considered for those who have difficulty gripping standard handles.
A good general guidance for wheelchair users is to have a windowsill that is no higher than 900 to 1200mm from the ground. This is the maximum height, which allows the users a reasonable view out of the window.
There are also a lot of different opening and closing mechanisms that can be used. These will include manual window winders and a powered system. These systems allow windows that are generally out of reach of the user or that require more dexterity to be opened and closed