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How can I make an entrance accessible?

Often, the most significant barrier in getting into and out of the home for people with mobility or sensory limitations is the entranceway itself. Many people think that a ramp is the only solution and hate the idea of advertising their disability by adding one. But ramps are not the only way to make an entrance accessible.

Sometimes a little creative landscaping can provide a level or slightly sloped path from the sidewalk or driveway to the house. “Ramping” can be achieved by building up the grade and adding landscaping to enhance a new accessible walkway. A curved walkway winding past plantings could be a lovely way to enter your home.

Ask a landscaper for ideas on creating an accessible entryway. When you do, keep the following guidelines in mind:
  • Pathways should be 4 feet wide to allow easy maneuvering of a wheelchair or walker; that width also allows two people to walk side-by-side comfortably.
  • If possible, slopes should be limited to a 1-inch rise for every 20 inches in length; though Americans with Disability Act requirements for ramps only require a 1 to 12 ratio, this is too steep for pushing or propelling a manual wheelchair -- or a walker -- any distance, especially if you do not have handrails on both sides to help you.
  • Flat rest areas, at least 5 feet long, should be provided for every 3 feet of continuous rise. Place a raised garden bed with a bench off to the side of the walk for those who may need to sit down and rest a moment.
  • Build in some handrails along the way, if not the entire length of the sloped area (recommended), then at corners and key locations. Make them decorative or part of flower boxes and plantings and they will blend into the overall setting.
  • Use contrasting railings and plantings, even colored cement, to help those with poor vision more easily “see” where the sidewalk leads.
  • Texture concrete surfaces. When adding new walkways, brush the wet cement with a broom while still wet before setting to give the walk some grip under foot. For an existing sidewalk, there are nonslip coatings that can be applied to ramps and walkways; ask about these at your local home improvement store.
  • Extend sidewalks to the door ending with a large (a minimum 5 feet square), flat landing area (no step) in front of the door.
Home Accessibility (300 Tips for Making Life Easier)

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Home Accessibility (300 Tips for Making Life Easier)

Written by the best-selling author of Multiple Sclerosis: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier and Parkinson's Disease: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier, Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.