Making your apartment disability-friendly may seem like a tough task upon first inspection. You may worry about spacing issues, appropriate equipment such as handrails and walking aids and also ensuring that rooms are totally safe. While it may seem like a lot of work, you can rest assured that making your home accessible to people with disabilities is not as difficult as it may seem.
While it would be easy to give a set list of what a property does and does not require to be truly accessible and disability-friendly, the nature and severity of individual disabilities do vary.
According to ABLEize, there are a few core features that every landlord should consider including in their disability-friendly property or apartment.
Professionally Installed Approaches for Access
Ensuring that your property has adequate hand rails, beams, and general mobility aids to help with access is essential. Accessibility is arguably the most important aspect of a disability-friendly apartment. If the tenant cannot comfortably make their way around the property, this could create several difficulties for them each and every day.
Ramp Installation (if required)
If your tenant suffers from a physical disability which has lead them to use a wheelchair, walker or stroller, it’s important to ensure access to the property is made as easy as possible. Ramps are fantastic ways to ensure wheelchairs and other mobility transportation vehicles can easily enter the property. It’s also important to ensure that the entryways are big enough to fit a wheelchair.
Doors Must be Appropriate for Wheelchair Access
As mentioned above, you must ensure that the doors into your property are big enough to allow wheelchair access. For information about the necessary size, check out this resource.
Switches and Handles Must Adhere to Guidelines
Door handles, light switches, shower settings and so forth must be at a height that is accessible as well. This way, it allows easy access to people with disabilities who might otherwise be unable to reach.
Ensure You Have Disability Discrimination Act (DDS) Appropriate Facilities
This includes toilets, showers and other general washing facilities. For example, if someone has mobility problems, they may not be able to step into their bath or shower, meaning a door may have to be installed; or other accommodations will have to be made.
Making sure your tenants feel comfortable in their new apartment is of the utmost importance and one of way of ensuring their comfort needs are met is by purchasing appropriate furniture. Riser recliner chairs and adjustable beds are extremely popular for those who struggle with mobility. While they do not fall into the ‘essential needs’ category, the thought goes a long way. So, if you’re looking to make your property as comfortable as possible for your tenant(s), furniture to aid mobility may be worth considering.
It’s also very important to remember that it’s not just physical structures and aids that need to be included. If, for example, the tenant(s) are visually impaired, they may require a more detailed lease agreement and documentation. Similarly, those who require guide dogs should be excused from a ‘no pets’ policy.
For more information on how you can make your property disability-friendly, you can look at the Americans with Disabilities Act.