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How can I make entryway thresholds more accessible?

When it comes to thresholds, anything higher than one-half inch is a safety hazard to someone in a wheelchair or who has difficulty seeing or walking. When building or remodeling, insist on a barrier-free entry on at least one door (preferably two for the sake of safety). If you are retrofitting an existing home, here are a few ideas to help you get through the door.
  • Lower your threshold. If the threshold is wood, a quick fix is to sand down the edges on each side (interior and exterior) to create a smooth hump that is easier to slide or roll over. If you need a longer lead way to get over a particularly high threshold, try making a wedge out of a standard piece of lumber (1 × 2 inches to 1 × 6 inches will likely work best) and affix it to the edge of your current door threshold. Ask at the lumber yard if they might cut and sand it down for you.
  • Invest in a portable threshold. If sanding your door threshold is not possible due to materials, door design, or because you rent, there is a reasonably low-cost solution -- a portable threshold ramp that sits over the existing one. Made of lightweight but sturdy aluminum, the ramp extends the width of the threshold, making a gentler transition into the house. The advantage of this ramp is that you can fold it up and take it with you if you move or when visiting the homes of friends and family whose doorways may provide a challenge.
  • Purchase a threshold ramp to get over small steps. If you only have one small step (2–4 inches) to maneuver, there are a variety of threshold ramps that will give you the lift you need. If you prefer to build your own, a height of 2 to 4 inches will require a length of 24 to 48 inches; it should be sturdy enough to support 400 pounds or more. Ask your Independent Living Center (ILC) for recommendations or about trying one that might be in their lending library.
  • Paint thresholds, door frames, and knobs in a color that contrasts with the door and siding, and mark any changes in height with high-contrast paint. This will help those with visual limitations “see” the difference and easily identify doors and hazards.
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.