Idea Center

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Recommendations for Improving Mobility in Your Home

It's about real people.

The good news is: we are living longer. Homes with accessibility features allow us to stay at home
no matter what happens in the future.

Accessible homes are better investments, safer for children, and accomodating to friends and family members with limited mobility. It's time to talk about real people and real solutions.

Find out more about how accessibility can improve your life.

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For Your Kitchen

• Microwave oven in wall or on counter
• Refrigerator and freezer side by side
• Side-swing or wall oven
• Controls that are easy to read
• Raised washing machine and dryer
• Front-loading washing machine and dryer
• Raised dishwasher with push-button controls

For Your Stove

• Replace old stoves with induction cook tops to help prevent burns
• Electric cook tops with level burners for easy food transfer between burners
• Front controls and downdraft feature that pulls heat away from the user
• Light to indicate when surface is hot


• A base cabinet with rollout trays
• Pull-down shelving
• Multi-level work spaces
• Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied-height counters and removable base cabinets
• Upper wall cabinetry lower than conventional height
• Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation in the workspace
• Counter space for dish landing adjacent to, or opposite from all appliances
• Glass-front cabinet doors
• Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items

For Your Bathroom

• Fold down seat installed in the shower
• Adjustable showerheads with hose attachment
• Lighting in shower stall
• Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied-height counters, and removable base counters
• Contrasting color edge border at countertops
• At least one wheelchair-maneuverable bath on the main level of the home
• Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat and toilet for installation of grab bars
• If the main bathroom has a stand-up shower, opt for a curb-less and wide shower pan
• Low bathtubs
• Higher toilets or height-adjustable toilets
• Toilet paper holders that can be changed with one hand
• A wall-hung sink with knee space and a panel to hide and protect user from pipes
• Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower


• Thermostatic or anti-scald controls
• Lever handles or pedal-controlled handles
• Pressure-balanced faucets

For the Exterior of Your Home

• Try a low-maintenance exterior like vinyl or brick
• Low maintenance plants and shrubs create a green environment with less upkeep


• Sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock
• Non-slip flooring in foyer
• Accessible path to the home
• At least one covered, no-step entryway
• Entry door sidelight or a high/low peephole
• Sidelight should provide both privacy and safety
• Locate the doorbell at an accessible height
• A surface on which to place packages while opening the door

Electrical, Lighting, Safety and Security in Your Home

• Install new smoke and CO detectors
• Install automated lighting
• Install an emergency alert system or a video monitoring system
• Easy-to-see and read thermostats
• Accessible light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms
• Light receptacles with at least with at least two bulbs in vital places (such as exits and bathrooms)
• Light switches, thermostats and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher and 48 inches off the floor
• Move electrical cords out of the flow of traffic
• Replace standard light switches with rocker or touch-light switches
• Pre-programmed thermostats
• Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

• Install energy-efficient units
• HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible
• Windows that can be opened for cross-ventilation and fresh air

Around the House


• If carpeted, use low-density material and a firm pad.
• Smooth, non-glare, and slip resistant surfaces are ideal for indoor and outdoor areas.
• Try contrasting colors and textures to indicate changes in surface level.
• Fasten down rugs and floor runners and remove unnecessary rugs.

Floor Plan & Hallways

• Wide, well-lit hallways are ideal
• Avoid steps between rooms on a single level
• Main living on a single story, including a full bathroom
• 5 foot by 5 foot clear turning space in living areas, kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom


• Lighting in closets
• Adjustable closet rods and shelving
• Easy to open doors that do not obstruct access


• Plenty of windows for natural lighting
• Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes
• Lowered windows, or taller windows with lower sill height
• Easily accessible and operable hardware

Stairways, Lifts and Elevators

• Adequate handrails on both sides of the stairway
• Increase visibility on stairs with contrast strips on top and bottom stairs
• Color contrast between treads and risers with lighting
• Residential elevator or lift


• 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances, or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns
• Loop handles for easy grip and pulling
• Pull-out spray faucets
• Levered handles
• Open, under-counter seated work areas
• Laundry chute, or laundry facilities located in master bedroom in multi-level homes

Reduced Maintenance and Convenience Features

• Easy-to-clean surfaces
• Built-in recycling system
• Central vacuum
• Built-in pet feeding system
• Intercom system
• Videophone system

Advice for those who wish to age in place

• Talk with family members about your long-term living preferences. Do you want to downsize to a smaller single family home or plan to stay put in your traditional family home?
• Take a look at your finances and retirement funds. With your current savings and assets, will you be able to pay for home maintenance? Consider starting a separate retirement savings account strictly for home maintenance.