Wheelchair friendly furniture and fittings
Implementing a wheelchair friendly home or office does not stop at implementing the correct design for universal access. After installing wheelchair friendly access ramps, wheelchair friendly kitchens and bathrooms, it is necessary to take a look at the furniture as well.
Tables, beds, chairs and couches all need to be taken into consideration after the access builders have left.
Tables and desks
Consider the height the table needs to be to fit a wheelchair with the addition of the user’s legs to slide under the table or desk. It is also imperative that there is ample space between the table legs to accommodate a wheelchair. Also ensure that there is sufficient space surrounding tables and other furniture in order for a wheelchair to move around freely.
When choosing a bed, you might need to bring both a measuring tape and another person or ask a relatively heavy store attendant to lie in the bed while you measure the height. In order to pass an audit related to the Australian Access Standards, and to ensure that the wheelchair user can move from the bed to the wheelchair easily, the bed does not only need to be minimum 500mm high, but also have that minimum height when a person weighing 90 kilograms lies in it. Also allow for enough space around the bed of at least 1200mm for easy wheelchair access. If a king size bed will restrict movement around the bed, opt for a bed that is smaller, or you might need to move some internal walls to make the bedroom bigger.
When designing a wheelchair friendly kitchen, you need to look further than having lowered benchtops and cooking areas and wheelchair access under these areas. How would you access the contents of a hot oven when the oven door opens downwards? A side-opening oven provides the wheelchair user a safer method of cooking with the oven by enabling better access.
Controls and Switches
The considerations do not stop at the furniture. You might need to call an electrician to lower light and fan switches to be more easily reached from a wheelchair user. You might even consider enabling remote control of lights, fans and air condition for superior usability.
The tap fittings can also cause problems at times. The old-fashioned tap fittings with individual knobs for hot and cold water will not suffice. You might need to acquire the services of your local plumber to change over your tap fittings. VIP Access works closely with Complete Plumbing Solutions in installing disability aids for bathrooms and kitchens. The long handled flip mixers assist
Window coverings can trouble most of us at different times, especially vertical blinds that do not move freely in their tracks, while big heavy drapes should be avoided at all cost. Opt for window coverings that are easy to open and shut, such as plantation shutters that as an added bonus do not have any strings attached which can easily catch on the wheelchair.