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How Well is Your Home Caring for You?

See our checklists of universal design solutions if disabilities are cramping your style.

A home with universal design features is a home that fits everyone—even those who face special physical challenges. Below, see a list of seven physical disabilities that can be addressed with universal design solutions. Then click on the arrow next to a disability that may affect you or a loved one in your home to find lists of universal design standards that alleviate difficulties related to each.

See also: What Is Universal Design?

If your home's design reflects the standards in each list—great! That part of your home should be easy to use for many years to come. But where features or conditions in your home don't match the standards, consider modifying your home to conform with the universal design approach.

Special Needs Checklists

 

Limited Reach

  1. My upper kitchen cabinets are 48 inches from the floor.
  2. My kitchen and closets have pull-down shelving.
  3. My cabinet shelves are no more than 10 inches deep.
  4. I have a lazy susan to reach things stored on deep shelves.
  5. I have pull-out shelves in the kitchen.
  6. I have a side-by-side refrigerator.
  7. My oven doors swing to the side.
  8. My cooktop has easy-to-reach controls at the front.
  9. My sink controls are on the side so I can reach them easily.
  10. My microwave oven is no higher than 48 inches above the floor.
  11. There is a hand-held shower in my bathroom.
  12. My closet rods pull down to a comfortable level.
  13. I have a closet organizer that helps me reach all my belongings.
  14. My electrical outlets are 27 inches above the floor.
  15. My clothes washer and dryer are front-loading

Poor Strength In Hands And Arms

  1. Cabinets and drawers have D-shape handles.
  2. Special hardware makes my drawers slide easily.
  3. I own a trash compactor so I don't have to lift as many trash bags.
  4. I have a garbage disposal to reduce the trash I have to carry.
  5. My sinks have lever faucet handles.
  6. My countertops are smooth so heavy pans can slide across them.
  7. Push-button controls are on all my appliances.
  8. There is a heat-resistant counter near my microwave oven.
  9. I have a spray hose so I can fill pots that are on the stove.
  10. All my doors have lever handles.
  11. I have rocker light switches.
  12. I have an automatic garage door opener.

Balance and Coordination Problems

  1. The edges of my counters are rounded so I won't get hurt if I fall.
  2. There is a bath seat in the tub or shower.
  3. My bath tub has a transfer bench to ease getting in and out.
  4. I have a walk-in shower and a pull-down seat.
  5. Grab bars are near the bath and toilet.
  6. There is a phone in the bathroom.
  7. Every stairway has handrails on both sides.
  8. The handrails extend beyond the top and bottom of the stairs.
  9. I don't have to climb stairs to get to my bedroom or bathroom.

Trouble Bending

  1. My dishwasher is 8 inches from the floor.
  2. My lower kitchen cabinets are 6 inches above the floor.
  3. I have a wall oven at a good height so I don't have to bend.
  4. My sink is no more than 6 inches deep.
  5. My microwave oven is no higher than 48 inches above the floor.
  6. I use an elevated toilet or toilet seat.

Trouble Walking and Climbing Stairs

  1. The edges of my counters are rounded so I won't get hurt if I fall.
  2. I have a countertop that I can use while sitting
  3. There is knee space under the stove so I can sit while cooking.
  4. There is knee space under all my sinks so I can sit while washing.
  5. I have a bath seat in the tub or shower.
  6. I can use a transfer bench to get in and out of the tub.
  7. I have a walk-in shower.
  8. Grab bars are near the bath and toilet.
  9. Handrails are on both sides of every stairway.
  10. The handrails extend beyond the top and bottom of the stairs.
  11. I don't have to climb stairs to get to my bedroom or bathroom.
  12. All my stairs have a slip-resistant surface.
  13. My doors are wide enough for a walker to get through.
  14. The threshold on my door is no higher than ? inch.
  15. My floors are smooth and slip-resistant.
  16. My carpet has a low pile and a firm pad.
  17. I do not have my area rugs.
  18. Clutter and electric cords are out of my path.
  19. My driveway is smooth, but not slippery.
  20. I have a ramp to my front door with handrails on both sides.

Uses a Wheelchair - Trouble Standing

  1. I can use my counter while sitting in a wheelchair.
  2. There is knee space under the stove.
  3. There is knee space under all my sinks.
  4. All of my appliances have controls at the front so I can reach them.
  5. I have a side-by-side refrigerator.
  6. My oven doors swing to the side.
  7. My microwave oven is no higher than 48 inches above the floor.
  8. There is a heat-resistant counter near my microwave oven.
  9. The kitchen ad closets have pull-down shelving.
  10. My cabinet shelves are no more than 10 inches deep.
  11. I use a Lazy Susan to reach things stored on deep shelves.
  12. I have pull-out shelves in the kitchen.
  13. I have a roll-in shower.
  14. I have a hand-held shower.
  15. I have a way to transfer into the tub.
  16. There is enough space to transfer from wheelchair to toilet.
  17. My closet rods pull down to a comfortable level.
  18. I have a closet organizer that helps me reach all my belongings.
  19. I have a "walk-in" closet that is wide enough for my wheelchair.
  20. My electrical outlets are 27 inches above the floor.
  21. My doors and hallways are wide enough for a wheelchair.
  22. There is enough floor space near doors to move my wheelchair.
  23. The threshold in doorways is not raised.
  24. I can wheel myself from my car to the front door and then inside.
  25. I can wheel myself to a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.
  26. My walkway and driveway are smooth but not slippery.
  27. I have a ramp to my front door that has landings at bottom and top.
  28. The ramp has an edging so I won't slide off.
  29. My floors are smooth; my carpet has a low pile and a firm pad.
  30. Clutter and electric cords are out of my path.

Limited Vision

  1. I have increased the wattage of my light bulbs.
  2. My stove controls are clearly marked and easy to see.
  3. Under-the-cabinet lights are over the kitchen counter.
  4. The edge of my counters are a different color than the top.
  5. My stove has big numbers that I can see from across the room.
  6. My stove uses different colors to tell me which parts are hot.
  7. Lights are in all my closets.
  8. My outside walkways, stairs, and entrances are all well-lit.
  9. All indoor stairs are well lit.
  10. The edge of each step is a color that stands out.
  11. My steps are a different color than the surrounding area.

Hearing Impairment

  1. My smoke detectors have strobe lights.
  2. I increased the volume on my phones.
  3. My dishwasher is ultra-quiet to reduce background noise.

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