How to Improve Your Home for Comfortable Living With a Disability

We often underestimate the importance of having a house that we can actually feel relaxed in. Sometimes, we get so busy that having a cozy home is the last thing on our minds! But it should actually be a priority in our life. Our home is where we recharge and relax after a stressful day, so getting the CASp certification ADA approves of would be a big improvement to our quality of life. 

Nowadays, there is a stigma about being a special needs individual. Having a disability means more effort and sometimes even sacrifices just to do mundane activities. The United States Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) actually lays out the guidelines for [public] spaces in order to prevent discrimination for those with disabilities. 

The CASp certification ADA requires is often requested from commercial property owners. Why is that? Well, the accessibility standards listed in the ADA are approved by federal and state laws. Public accommodations should abide by these standards. Failure to do so means a violation of the law, and they are subject to violations and even lawsuits. 

But what about the comfort and accessibility within our own home? While a house is different from a public accommodation like a restaurant or mall, we can still refer to the ADA guidelines. They make for a very good reference when it comes to building or renovating a space for individuals with special needs.

How to Improve the Home for a Person with Special Needs

  • Identify their needs. 

There are several forms of disabilities and mental conditions out there, so this is not a one-size-fits-all kind of checklist. Consult with the individual with special needs, as well as relevant persons like their doctor, family members, or therapist. Really try to understand their condition and the activities that are difficult for them.

The ADA supposedly covers people with any disability, but their usual recommendations are applicable to physical spaces. This would make a great reference for those individuals in wheelchairs, crutches, or in need of any physical assistance.

  • Provide ways to make things more convenient for them. 

Once you have identified their limitations and needs, you can figure out how to address them. People who are visually impaired could use more space like wider hallways. They would also benefit from physical guides like handlebars and Braille text in the home. Meanwhile, people in wheelchairs would be unable to go up the stairs – so consider a bungalow space or one with a ramp. 

The more modifications you make that are catered to them, the more comfortable space will be! 

  • Have a spacious bathroom. 

People may underestimate the joy of having a lot of space in the bathroom, but this is beneficial for everyone! Yes, even those individuals without special needs. A spacious bathroom will allow you the convenience of doing all your self-care activities without worrying about hitting an elbow on the sink or toppling over the towel stand. Think twice before putting in a bathtub since it does take up quite a lot of space and it might not be accessible for individuals with special needs. If you refer to the CASp certification ADA has laid out, a bathtub is not on the list. Instead, you will find the need for handlebars, proper height for the sink and toilet, and measurements for adequate space. 

Having appropriate flooring in the bathroom is a plus. Keep in mind the special needs before installing the floor of your bathroom – tiles may be too slippery while movable rugs don’t stay in place. 

  • Keep things organized. 

This goes without saying! A clean and organized home will make a big difference in your daily life. Set aside a time every week or even every day to organize the items in your home – whether it’s the living room, kitchen, or bedroom that needs fixing. Surely you will enjoy coming home to a cozy place without clutter lying around. 

One helpful tip for this is to assign where your items belong. Segregate your items by category – like keep together all school supplies, books, tools, etc. Shelves and drawers will help keep things in place. This will also make it easier for you to find things fast since you know where they are kept in your home!

  • Remove any barriers. 

Lastly, the CASp certification ADA requires from physical spaces is the removal of barriers that limit movement or pose difficulty to people with disabilities. These include but are not limited to narrow doorways, dimly lit rooms, and necessities (like light switches, refrigerator handles, water dispensers, etc.) placed at inappropriate heights. 

Go back to their special needs so you can assess what counts as barriers to them. You may think that something is helpful but it might actually pose a challenge, such as plants! Everybody loves having plants in the home and it has a lot of benefits. However, placing a big plant in a narrow hallway might be more dangerous than it is helpful.

Investing in your home is actually investing in yourself and your family! Our home is our comfort zone – where we feel absolutely comfortable and relaxed. Take some time to make your home as comfortable as possible and you will never look back.