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Diagram by: DesignAble Environments Inc.

Diagram by: DesignAble Environments Inc.

Windows enhance our rooms by bringing natural light and fresh air into the space. They come in all sorts of sizes and styles and, much like our doors and locks, it is important to analyze the functionality of the windows in your home.

Whether you are planning a new build, or replacing the windows in your current home, window size should be your first point of consideration. Your windows should be large enough to bring sufficient light into the space, but not too large that would cause over illumination and glare. Over illumination and glare are a serious concern for the elderly or for other people who have visual impairments, as they can “wash out” the distinct features of a room. This can lead to an increased hazard in the home. To help combat these hazards, consider using adjustable blinds or curtains to help control the amount of natural light entering the room.

Since one of the main purposes of windows is to provide views to the outside, it is essential to carefully consider the height of your window sill. Is or will this window be used by children or from a seated position? Is the window sill low enough to allow someone to see out while lying in bed? The recommended height for viewing from a seated position is 30 inches. For a horizontal or lying position the recommended sill height is 24 inches. It is critical that you take into account other concerns surrounding lower window sills such as installing safety locks and the degree of opening space if the window is operable - this should be of special concern if there are children in the home.

For operable windows you will need to consider the functionality of the opening and locking mechanisms as well. Much like our doors, window locks and levers need to be easily operated with little to no tight or specific motions required. Certain types of operable windows such as casement, awning or hopper windows can easily be opened with one hand on a crank handle or lever and the locks on these windows are often easy to reach. Sliding windows are a great alternative as they are usually easy to reach and open. With regards to sliding windows, it is important to consider size as large sliding windows may not be easily used by someone with limited strength due to their weight. Double hung windows are often not recommended in a universally designed home as they require fine motor skills and finger strength to operate.

For ease of access, window openings and locking mechanisms should be between 24 and 48 inches off the ground. Ensure a clear path to the window to allow access without the hazard of leaning over furniture. A 30 by 48 inch space is fully sufficient to allow a wheelchair or scooter to pull up and utilize the controls.


Windows are another small factor that can make a big difference to the overall functionality and comfort of your home. By looking forward and planning ahead you can ensure that the beauty of the outdoors is enjoyed by everyone at every stage of life.

For more information on how you or a loved one can build a Home for Life™ please contact us.