Miscellaneous Accessibility Features
In addition to those already presented, there are a few miscellaneous accessibility features that add to the enjoyment of our accessible home. Most of these are relatively small but when added together do make a difference. They are described briefly in the sections that follow.
Simplifying Passage Through Doorways
I use the door into the house from the garage more than any other door. There are often times when I'm holding something in my hand or balancing an object on my lap. My wife also tends to have her arms full when using this door. As a result we decided it would be worth the investment to install an automatic door opener.
We had the opener installed over top of the door, with two switches in the garage and one switch inside the house, all wired to open the door. It cost about $1,000 but it???s been worth it. I would definitely recommend an automatic door, everyone in the family benefits from it.
We have doors to our patio from both our bedroom and the breakfast room. I use these doors relatively frequently. It's very easy to open these doors (they open inward) and roll out onto the patio. Unfortunately, it is more difficult to close the door once you're outside. You need to turn around, roll part way back into the house, grab the door knob, and then back out pulling the door shut as you do so. This is made even more challenging since a door threshold is often difficult to roll over backwards.
I came up with an inexpensive solution to this door closing dilemma. I added an additional handle/knob to each of the doors (See pictures above). On the door from the breakfast room I mounted a handle on the outside of the door close to the hinge. On the door from the bedroom I mounted a standard door knob outside of the door near the center. With this extra handle/knob it is extremely easy to close the door. You can grab it on the way by and pull the door shut as you roll out onto the patio. Or if you prefer, once you're on the patio you can turn around and grab the knob to pull the door shut. Both methods make it a piece of cake to shut the door behind you. I can't tell you how much aggravation and time this simple accessibility feature has save me over the dozen years we have live here.
Rolling Utility Cart
My wife makes extensive use of a rolling utility cart we keep in the garage. It is similar to this All Purpose Utility Cart
found at Amazon.
This cart in itself is not an accessibility feature, but it takes advantage of the unimpeded access from the garage into the house. When returning from shopping she unloads the bags from her car on to the utility cart. Then she can roll all the groceries through the automatic door and into the kitchen making stops at the freezer and refrigerator on her way to the pantry. This cart has really proved to be a back saver!
I probably spend 99% of my time on the main level of our accessible home. However, there are two bedrooms, a full bath, workout area and home theater in the finished basement. We had a Concord elevator installed when we built the house. It has worked well for a dozen years.
The elevator is another accessibility feature that provides great benefits to everyone in the family. For example, it was fantastic for getting the large rear-projection big screen down to the basement. We simply rolled it into the elevator and sent it downstairs where we rolled it out. We entertain often and the elevator is great for bringing additional tables and chairs up from the basement. When my mother-in-law stayed with us, in later years she used the elevator exclusively since she could no longer negotiate the steps.
Entry Closet Configuration
This is a really minor feature of our accessible house but every little bit helps. I made sure the rod and shelf in the entry closet were mounted lower than typical so I could hang up and retrieve guest's jackets and coats without their assistance. It's just one more area where, through thoughtful design, I have made it possible to remove potential limitations of my disability.