Learn About Mobility, Accessibility, and Your Home

Composite front doorAccessibility and mobility are difficulties for quite a few of us. As such, what should you consider in terms of your door design if you need some extra help in staying mobile? This can be those that have clearly defined requirements, like wheelchair users for example, or just those of us getting a bit older and might need a bit more help than we previously did in staying mobile.

That last point is particularly essential given how the UK population is increasingly living longer. Right now, nearly 18% of the UK population is already aged 65 or older, and that’s expected to go up to 25% by the year 2046.

Re-thinking and then remodelling our home designs in order to fit our constantly changing requirements when we age will be crucial for all of us as we age, and we might even have family and friends that are needing those requirements already.

Improving the Accessibility of Entrance Doors

Entrance doors having a sympathetic design is crucial in helping folks of limited or restricted mobility in continuing to lead independent lives.

There are many things which great door design might do in the support of those that require just bit more help in staying mobile so they can minimise their injury risks and keep their independence.

According to Government figures, about a third of all those aged 65 and over, and even half of those aged 80 and over inside the UK, have a fall at least once each year. This, of course, is a source of pain, injury, distress, and loss of confidence.

The addition of a ramp, railing, or handrail might contribute to reduced risk and improved accessibility.

Ease of operation and reliability are also essential. PVC-U and composite doors are increasingly maintenance-free, as they aren’t subject to the warping and twisting that might impact how timber doors operate.

A low threshold is the most important facet to consider, though. A standard door threshold, which is the bottom frame piece you step over, is typically about 70mm. It’s set to this height in order to improve the door sealing and thermal efficiency.

However, at 70mm, might be a difficulty for anyone with limited mobility, which makes it hard for bumping the wheels of a wheelchair over them.

A low threshold will sit at about 12mm high, substantially improving wheelchair-user access.

Wheelchair Access Doors

If you are a wheelchair user, then there are several specific things you might want to consider. That includes ECW, or Minimum Effective Clear Opening Widths.

Guidance recommends that an ideal ECW is 900mm, although older properties can’t always support that.

Other practical considerations come into play. For a standard wheelchair to be able to turn through a full circle of 360 degrees, the required space is 1500mm x 1500mm, which means it’s essential to be sure that there is clutter-free and clear space inside the hallway.

Doors also should open more than 90 degrees in order for wheelchair users to get through unhindered, and to support this, there needs to be at least 300mm of clear space between the wall and the door’s opening edge.

Improving Accessibility by Modifying Windows

Good window design also makes a substantial impact on independence, mobility, and the quality of life for wheelchair users, older folks, or anyone else with restricted mobility.

That might include lowering the window height for wheelchair users or choosing different window handles for anyone who finds standard handles hard to grip.

As a general rule of thumb, any window sills for a wheelchair user shouldn’t be situated more than 900mm – 1200mm above the floor. That’s the maximum that enables wheelchair users to have a reasonable exterior view, but some integral blinds may be wanted on lowers windows to allow for privacy.

There are also many different opening and closing mechanisms currently available. These include things like manual window winders, but also powered systems, as these can be used for opening and closing windows that are either out of reach, or when the user simply lacks the dexterity necessary for a standardised opening and closing system.