Composite front doorWhen it comes to accessibility in a home, it is essential that you take into account the mobility of all that will use or reside in the house. The design of the door should afford effortless mobility and accessibility for all including individuals in wheelchairs, and those that need extra help to stay mobile.

In the UK, 18% of the current population are aged 65 and above. That figure is expected to shoot up to 25% in the next 30 years.

We all grow old and that is why we need to re-think the designs of our homes when we are planning renovations, starting with a survey to understand the scope or potential to make doorways and windows more accessible, a task that Fourwalls are expert in. The objective is to ensure that the access points meet the mobility requirements that you, your family, or friends will have as you get older.

Improving Entrance Door Accessibility

Doors and entrance points that have sympathetic designs make it easier for people with limited mobility to use them without needing any assistance, meaning that individuals can keep as much of their independence as possible. A well-designed door made for those who need a bit of help to stay mobile also minimises the risk of injuries.

According to Government figures, nearly a third of people in the UK aged 65 and above fall at least once a year. The outcome of this is injuries, pain, distress, and a loss of confidence..

People aged 80 and over can require things such as ramps, handrails, or railing to help improve mobility and accessibility while minimising risk.

Overall, the design of the doors, access points and mobility aids around the home should grant the aged and ageing ease of operation. In terms of material, either PVC-U or Composite doors require very minimal maintenance and are not prone to warping or twisting, compared to timber doors.

Another essential element that the doors should have is a low-threshold; this refers to the bottom piece of the frame that you step over. Usually a threshold is around 70mm to enhance thermal efficiency by sealing the door. However, that height will present a challenge for people with limited mobility especially those in wheelchairs. 12mm is the ideal height for a low threshold which allows a wheelchair user to bump the wheels over the lip of the door.

Adding Wheelchair Access Doors

For people that use wheelchairs, you need to take into account other things such as, ECW (Effective Clear Opening Widths). The recommended ECW is 900mm; however, achieving this can be hard especially for older properties.

You also need to consider the turning space available for wheelchairs. To allow for a 360 degree turn, you need to have a space of 1500mm X 1500mm, and it should be free of clutter.

The doors you install should be able to open at an angle of 90 degrees or more, so that a wheelchair user will have unhindered access. To achieve this, the space between the door’s opening edge and the wall should be at a minimum of 300mm.

Modifying Windows To Improve Accessibility

Aside from access points, windows designed with accessibility in mind also help enhance mobility and promote independence for the aged and those with restricted movement. Considerations include lowering the height of the windows so that wheelchair users can operate them or installing window handles with an ergonomic grip.

As for the window sills, you should set them at a height of around 900mm to 1200mm from the floor so that individuals on wheelchairs can reach them.

When thinking of the opening and closing mechanisms for the windows, you can opt to use manual winders or powered systems. The latter is an excellent option if the windows are out of reach or the people operating them can’t open and close a manual system easily.