The number of Americans living with disability has reached 61 million, according to the CDC, and that number as a proportion of the wider population is only rising. That means more homeowners will be living with disability and may well require accessibility tools to help them enjoy full independence within their homes. Typical accessibility tools can include the use of ramps, walking aids such as handles, and machinery such as stairlifts. These can sometimes be at odds with the existing design of a home, but the advent of smart tools is making modern and accessible design possible.
When it comes to creating an accessible home, it’s easy to stop and think of accessible aids – such as ramps, handles, and machinery. However, accessibility can mean many things to a lot of different people. Consider how a disability such as cerebral palsy will impact someone. Cerebral palsy advocates CPFN (cpfamilynetwork.org) rightly asserts that while cerebral palsy often produces symptoms such as stiffness of muscles and lack of balance, it can also cause hearing problems, loss of vision, and learning disabilities. This is a great example of how disability impacts individuals and how the simplest options aren’t always the best. The Bureau of Internet Accessibility outlines the four main categories of digital accessibility – perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust – and these are helpful in considering home design, especially with the use of smart tools.
People with accessibility requirements need independence in order to enjoy a good quality of life in their homes. CIO.com highlights how one purpose built smart home has enabled that without compromising on an aesthetically pleasing design for the home. The home promotes features such as alarm systems that can be deployed by the tenant, alongside smart home functions that help to provide care on a day-to-day basis, for instance, with managing medication and health worker appointments. The ultimate goal is to allow someone with accessibility requirements to live independently and enjoy a home that they find comfortable and pleasant to live in.
Becoming The Norm
The good news is that these design concerns are becoming commonplace. The Washington Post has highlighted a raft of new home designs that are smart and modern yet built with accessibility in mind – and not just today’s requirements, but the potential demands of the future, too. Consider in particular the Chad Dorsey home in Dallas, which has preempted potential accessibility needs in the future. All of the rooms are no-step, meaning wheelchair users and those with impaired mobility can easily access it, and the doorways are three-foot-wide, too, to prevent potential issues. Smart devices are built-in and work with every aspect of the home’s maintenance, and design has not been compromised.
This has clearly shown that aesthetic design does not need to be compromised to create an accessible environment. Careful thought and planning are all that’s needed to make homes accessible and disability-friendly. Put these considerations first, and the design of the home will follow.