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Interior Design Considerations for Wheelchair Users

Interior Design Considerations for Wheelchair Users

August 27, 2020

If you’re an interior designer who has been hired to decorate the living space of someone in a wheelchair, keep in mind these important design considerations:

Ramps: Entrances should be wheelchair accessible. The easiest way to accomplish that would be to install a ramp. If the house has multiple stories then you’ll need to include ways for a wheelchair to get up and down the stairs. A wheelchair lift is one option.

Space: Wheelchair users need doorways that are wide enough to accommodate the chair, enough space surrounding furniture so they can easily maneuver around the object, and finally, consider the space needed for a lifting aid.        

Toilet & Bathroom: Ensure there is enough space around the toilet for the wheelchair. As far as selection of a sink goes, you’ll want something that’s high enough to fit the wheelchair under, but low enough for the person to use.  

Height: The wheelchair user must be able to reach all light switches, door handles, emergency switches/ buttons and control panels. The same goes for furniture. All of these seemingly small details are extremely important.

Ensure that the area where clothing will be stored is accessible from the height of a wheelchair, this can include simple height appropriate shelving or even electronic racks that raise and lower on command. Another solution would be to store clothing solely in a low to the ground chest of drawers. 

Ceiling lifters: A wheelchair user might have an easier time moving about their house if the ceiling above their bed is outfitted with a ceiling lifter. Another possible location for a ceiling lifter would be the bathroom on the ceiling above the toilet.

Wheelchair Accessible Furniture Brands:

Hertz Furniture Systems

Global Industrial

School Outfitters

Furniture Accessories for the Disabled (resource)

Sources & Further Reading

SACARE: “Tips for Interior Design When keeping Disability Access in Mind

Ramp image: https://www.nps.gov/heho/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm

Wheelchair lift image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ThyssenKrupp_wheelchair_lift_in_Moscow_02.jpg

Wheelchair accessible bathroom: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alternative_Handicapped_Accessible_sign.svg

Chest of drawers image: https://pixabay.com/en/drawers-chest-of-drawers-752944/

Hertz Furniture Systems