Finding Apartments: Guide to Handicap-Friendly FeaturesOctober 27th, 2010 by Staff Writer
All too often, when you read a guide to apartments, it doesn’t address handicap-friendly features. If you, your spouse or a child has a handicap, that’s your primary concern. A regular apartment won’t have the space, equipment or accessibility that you need to accomplish routine tasks and get through the day. When you conduct an apartment search, review each option for the following features:
If someone in your apartment uses a wheelchair, then the size of the hallway is very important. You need to be able to get to from one room to the next easily, especially to the bathroom. Many apartments are standard sized, designed with the “walker” in mind. While you can make adjustments to the apartment in other areas, you can’t do much about hallways. Ask the landlord what the dimensions of all the hallways are in the apartment, and make sure that the wheelchair can fit in them comfortably.
You’ll need enough room in the bathroom to access the toilet and the bath with a walker or wheelchair. There also needs to be enough space on either side of the toilet for you to get on and off with any equipment you use. Some apartments have the toilets installed next to the sink with little room to maneuver. It’s not enough to think that there’s enough bathroom space based on reading a guide. Apartments are often more glowing in print ads and other material then what you actually get. The writer also may not be considering renters in the handicap community, when they use words like “spacious.” Be very specific when you call the landlord, and ask how many inches of space are around the toilet, as well as the exact bathroom dimensions. Toilets with support bars, and ones that are raised may also be a necessity for you, and you should ask landlords about that as well.
Walk in Showers
While you’re asking about the bathroom, ask about the showers. The best ones are those that have no tub, and are easy for you to walk or roll a wheelchair in. They are designed to eliminate the need to climb in, which can lead to injury. Tubs can also be slippery, and the bath mats that you find in stores are not sufficient to meet the needs of the handicap. You’ll appreciate this handicap-friendly feature in the apartment, whether it’s you who needs it or whether you help someone else in your home take showers.
Number of Elevators
You don’t want to get stuck on the bottom floor, because an elevator in your apartment building breaks down. It’s better to avoid this situation in the first place by renting a ground floor apartment. However, if you’re limited in options, make sure there is more than one elevator. No matter how well they’re maintained, they do shut down from time to time, or tenants hold them up when moving in or out. You’ll have fewer problems with alternative means of getting to an apartment located on a higher floor.
Let your needs for daily living be your guide to apartments that are handicap-friendly. If an apartment cannot meet those needs, keep looking.