Renovation is an exciting time for a homeowner. But it’s worth considering the question of accessible home renovations first. In today’s age, most Americans struggle to find housing. Unfortunately, this creates a gap in the quality of life at home enjoyed by disabled Americans and the wider populace.
Plan Accessible Home Renovations Carefully
Above all, our homes are one of the most significant investments we will ever make in a lifetime. Yet, we never think about things like accessible home renovations unless our loved ones or we experience a disability. Or if we have seniors living with us that need special modifications.
Additionally, in understanding the mindset of those with disabilities, we can only imagine the daily struggles of everyday life. That’s why it’s essential to design or renovate a home from their perspective. Unfortunately, accessible home renovations can cost more than expected without the right resources. And often more than we can afford without proper planning and financial assistance.
Below, we will look at what you should know before planning your accessible home renovations.
Many Faces Of Accessibility
The most recognizable form of accessibility requirement likely concerns mobility. Wheelchair users and people with other impairment conditions derive a lot of value from eschewing stairs in favor of ramps. And adding rails and guards to help navigate the home.
Moreover, mobility aids are one of the most valuable ways to promote independence in the home. Yet, typically, when we add rails and ramps, they don’t fit well with a home’s original design theme. There is a lot more to accessibility than simply aiding mobility, though. Consider a multi-faceted condition such as cerebral palsy – what is cerebral palsy? While mobility requirements are common in CP, broader symptoms can include visual and auditory loss.
With this in mind, a home that enables someone with a wide range of symptoms can be hugely beneficial. In addition, a few adaptations to your home can significantly benefit those with disabilities. For instance, lowered worktops and smart devices that respond to visual or audio impetus will benefit people without accessibility requirements. When planning your accessible home renovations, it’s always a good idea to think about these things.
Planning A Renovation
Equipped with the knowledge of what accessibility requirements are, you can make informed decisions on how to amend your home designs. For example, could your kitchen employ an island with a lowered countertop that someone with a wheelchair could use? Children would also enjoy this and become involved with the cooking. Are your devices smart, and will they enable accessibility rather than hindering it?
The interface of smart devices and accessibility is fundamental. However, a study published by the ACM Digital Library found that most smart devices and apps tested lowered the accessibility of the overall system containment.
Inaccessible controls, a vision-oriented setup, and a lack of textual descriptions of images mean that many devices do not provide accessibility. Thinking in-depth about what that means is the goal of a smart home renovation.
An excellent place to start looking when trying to create a genuinely accessible smart home is through existing templates. Putting a plan into place, as ZDNet suggests, can help you to outline where you can find weaknesses in your project. For example, will a device require a smartphone setup before it can get running? Or can it get running without needing to access a device physically?
Does the device, and the company behind the device, have a good track record in usability? Or are there likely to be several updates that impact the ability of the user to use the device over a more extended period? Device setups must happen with ease and user friendly. More so, maintained easily without the need to update software constantly. Input should be minimal.
Improving Energy Efficiency with Accessible Home Renovations
Over time, much of the independence developed for those with disabilities using smart technologies. For example, some classic mobility devices have no demand on the electrical grid, but smart devices do regardless of their efficiency. Similarly, devices such as hardwired assistance alarms require a constant connection to the grid to run correctly.
One journal, published by Nature Energy, found that people diagnosed with disabilities are particularly exposed to climate change and energy-related challenges. A renovation, then, should focus on energy efficiency and energy independence. At a minimum, accessible home renovations should include energy efficiency concepts.
When it comes to heat and lighting, think about using renewable materials. For instance it’s also certainly worth considering building energy independence through solar cells. In addition, energy storage solutions within the home are becoming more advanced every year. And this offers yet another bit of independence for people who are often most at risk within society.
Managing The Future With Accessible Home Renovations
People living with disability form an urgent need in society today. But that doesn’t mean accessibility issues are just for them. Just because you don’t have mobility or general accessibility adaptations today does not mean you won’t need to in the future. As old age approaches, having a home ready-built to meet the demands of medical conditions and lowered mobility is something to be embraced. And that means you won’t experience a significant upheaval during senior years.
There’s also significant pressure on the population and the housing stock due to increasing rates of disability. According to studies profiled by American Progress, COVID-19 has added up to 1.2 million more disabled people to the US population. Furthermore, the overall rate will rise due to public health pressures over the coming years. More so, this makes creating genuinely innovative and accessible housing a moral imperative and an economic one.
Designing your accessible home renovations as a first is an inclusive nod towards potential future homeowners and your future self. Putting in safeguards for people living with disability will help your own home perform better, increasing its value long into the future. American housing needs to do a lot better for both individuals living with disability and those who might develop disabilities in the future. Doing the work yourself is an excellent way to contribute and make a more comfortable home.
Life with a disability can present us with challenges daily, some foreseen while others are not. But you can improve the overall quality of your life.