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Diagram by: DesignAble Environments Inc.

Diagram by: DesignAble Environments Inc.

A home built with long-term accessibility in mind is a Home for Life™. Doors and their locks and handles are some of the more difficult components of our homes to adjust to as we age or experience permanent or temporary disability. Our hands might not have the same degree of motor skills that they did in our youth or motion could be limited due to accident or injury.

It’s important to remember the most accessible doorway is an empty doorway, no door means nothing to push, pull, turn, or move. For some people this is the only option available for them to enter or exit certain rooms in their home. Depending on the layout of the home, it may be wise to consider eliminating doors wherever possible.

Another important factor to note is the width of the doorframe itself. Wheelchairs and other mobility devices such as walkers and scooters require a minimum of 32 inches of clear passage space. If possible, 34-36 inches is ideal providing you with the recommended clear passage width, with or without the door installed. In addition to door size and frame width, it is also important to take into consideration the many different types of doors available. Traditional hinged doors will require you to account for swing clearance, but are easy and fairly inexpensive to convert into a universal design in a ready-built home. Sliding, accordion, and bifold doors are all convenient options to consider if there is not enough space to provide the necessary clearance. Pocket doors are a fantastic consideration in a new build, but are not an ideal upgrade in a ready-built home.

The barrier with doors might not be the physical door itself but rather the handle or lock. Lever-type door handles and locks that can be accessed with only one hand without tight motions such as grasping or pinching, are great alternatives to consider rather than the standard knob and lock. Push-button locking systems are also a great option as they are much easier to use than traditional key and lock systems. Remote control devices, sliding locks, and smart phone integrated technologies are some other fantastic alternatives that you can incorporate into your home.

Doors and their handles and locks are small elements that provide maximum functionality. It’s today’s small decisions that will allow you to stay in your home for all your tomorrows.


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