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Ten design considerations to make housing accessible for people with disabilities

The following is a general list of the key design considerations for making a dwelling accessible for someone with a disability.

  1. Approach to the house: There are a number of design considerations here including approach routes, car parking, design of the garage, level access around the house, lighting and security. 
  2. Main entrance: In order to provide independent access into the dwelling, it may be important to ensure that there is a level landing outside the entrance and level access provided at the entrance door. Door widths, entry systems, opening forces, door handles, and lobbies may need to cater for someone with reduced mobility. Security will also be an important issue at the main entrance of a dwelling.
  3. Layout of the house: It is important to ensure that the house is laid out correctly.  For example the carer’s bedroom should be located in close proximity to the person’s bedroom if night care/close supervision is required. If someone has acquired a mobility impairment as a result of their injury then additional access requirements will be required throughout the house (i.e. wider doors and corridors; accessible entrance and light switches that are easy to operate).
  4. Appropriate living spaces: People with disabilities may require extra space for resting, quiet times, fitness and rehabilitation.  It is important to ensure that the needs of the person are met and ensure sufficient space is provided within the home.
  5. Therapy rooms: Some users who have a disability will require regular therapy.  As a result they will need a room for treatment and activities including fitness. If this room is suitably designed it could also be used for storage of equipment and computer use.
  6. Kitchen design: Kitchens may need to be customised to meet the needs of the person who has a disability.  This will improve both access and safety for the user.
  7. Bedroom design: The bedroom needs to be appropriately designed to accommodate the user.  This may involve modifications to an existing bedroom or the provision of en-suite bedroom facilities on the ground floor.
  8. Bathroom: The bathroom needs to be appropriately designed to accommodate the user.  This may involve modifications to an existing bathroom.
  9. Laundry room: Consider the design of the laundry room and ensure it is accessible.
  10. Facilities for a care worker: Adequate facilities may be required for a care worker. If the care worker is required on a 24 hour basis, then separate sleeping and toilet/shower facilities will be required. 

In next month's updates O'Herlihy Access Consultancy will highlight a number of additional design criteria to make housing accessible for all. In the meantime, if you would like further information on making housing accessible for people with disabilities please do not hesitate to contact one of our team on 01-4151285 or e-mail [email protected].