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Home modifications for a disability

If you’ve become disabled because of an illness or injury, whether temporary or permanent, it’s natural to start thinking about home modifications and renovations to suit your changing needs. Staying safe and happy in your home with full accessibility may be as simple as storing heavy objects lower to the ground or as complicated as moving to a one-story home to avoid stairs. 
 
There are a range of home modifications to consider, depending on the nature and severity of your changes in ability. 

Examples of disability home modifications

There’s a range of potential disabilities that illness or injury can cause, and many can create different needs and challenges when it comes to accessibility and safety in your home. 

Example home modifications for people with physical impairments 
  • Add a shower chair or raised toilet seat in an existing bathroom.  
  • Secure throw rugs that could be tripping hazards.  
  • Move unnecessary furniture that could be a hazard.  
  • Exchange doorknobs for lever-style handles.  
  • Add grab bars to showers and by the toilets.  
  • Store heavy items at a comfortable level about waist high.  
  • Install anti-scalding devices for sinks, tubs, and showers.  
  • Consider devices that shut off the stove and oven automatically. 
Example home modifications for people with hearing impairments 
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and security systems with strobe lights, extra-loud alarms, or vibrating devices. 
  • Consider voice or clap activation for lights and electrical devices. 
  • Install carpet, heavy drapes, and acoustic treatments to reduce unwanted background noise and reverberations. 
  • Add a specialized doorbell with flashing lights, loud chimes, or a vibrating device. 
Example home modifications for people with vision impairments 
  • Add extra lighting to halls, closets, dark rooms, and outdoor paths. 
  • Consider voice or clap activation for lights and electrical devices. 
  • Use bright colors and sharp contrast in flooring, stairs, handrails, doors, cabinets, etc. 
  • Install dimmer switches to help control light brightness and glare. 

How Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists (CAPS) can help you with disability home modifications

If you do decide to research options for modifying your home for your change in abilities, consider searching for a contractor, remodeler, or architect experienced with aging-in-place or universal design. You may be decades away from retirement, but the principles of universal design try to make buildings accessible for the widest range of people possible. 
 
The National Association of Home Builders, in collaboration with AARP, developed the CAPS program, which offers a directory of experienced remodelers with the CAPS designation on its website. Find an experienced CAPS-designated remodeler in your area
 
Also, several grants are available for families who need to renovate their home due to disability. Check out the USA.gov’s Disability services resources for more information. 

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This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.

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