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How to Find the Perfect Wheelchair Accessible Apartment
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How to Find the Perfect Wheelchair Accessible Apartment

Finding an affordable apartment in a desirable location with great amenities is challenging enough, but when it comes to finding a home for people with disabilities, the whole quest sometimes looks like a wild goose chase. Despite overwhelming odds, there are ways to narrow down your search and find an apartment or house that suits your accessibility and mobility needs. Check out these considerations. 

You know the best

No property manager, real estate agent, or housing counselor knows better what makes a property an ideal fit for you. Since nobody knows better what you need, you need to advocate your requirements. An accessible apartment is the one that fits someone who uses a wheelchair, scooter or walker, or has limited mobility. In this case, even inconspicuous details like the width of doorways, height of countertops or thresholds might pose an insurmountable obstacle. To organize your ideas, make a list of your needs, wants, and other notes on comfort before you begin your search. These lists often include entries like accessible parking, elevator access, roll-in shower, as well as a range of nearby amenities.

Ask the right questions

Many landlords, property, managers, or realtors don’t really know what it means to have an accessible property. When you find a home that might suit you, make sure to go through all the specific features that are essential for you and your family. For example, you can inquire of the doors are at least 32 inches wide, as well as if they are opened by handle or knobs. If there are any ramps, ask if they have handles installed alongside. Next, you should find out if light switches and thermostats are low enough to reach. The floor type is another important consideration, as some types of carpeted surfaces are harder to roll upon. Finally, an important consideration is whether the bathroom is large enough to be navigated in a wheelchair or with assistance, as well as if the bathtub or shower has been made accessible. 

Find an optimal location 

Apart from ensuring that your new apartment is accessible on the inside, you also want to make sure the location works for you when you leave home. Some of the most desirable housing and land packages in Sydney, Australia, follow that pattern. The latest developments in suburbs like Austral and Box Hill are nested close to top-class schools, as well as healthcare institutions, while commercial and recreation areas are just minutes away thanks to the well-developed transport hub. Singapore, one of Southeast Asia’s most modern cities, is a stellar example of a metropolis made accessible. Over 85% of buses are wheelchair accessible, while over 95% of the city pedestrian walkways, taxi stands, and bus shelters are barrier-free for easier wheelchair access, allowing people with disabilities to look for homes in most popular districts of Sengkang and Jurong West. Crosswalks in the area should have appropriate lights and crossing sounds for enhanced safety. Besides, you should find out about the nearby transportation stops, as well as which pharmacies and restaurants make deliveries in that area. 

Consider conversion options

If two and two make four, you can compromise on the interior accessibility in favor of the great location. After all, it's easier for you to make a few basic alterations to an existing apartment, than change the landscape of your neighborhood. Adding a wheelchair ramp alongside the existing stairs is the first logical step. These ramps can be made of wood, aluminum, and even poured concrete. Take quotes from local carpenters about widening the doorways and consider changing the hinges for swing-away or sliding style. Even a half-inch threshold is a big obstacle for a wheelchair – an obstacle that is easily removed alongside doorway adaptation. Standard kitchen and bathroom countertops are often too high to be reached from a wheelchair, while floor cabinets can prevent access to the countertops. In both cases, it's better to leave empty space on the floor level. 

 

For millions of people worldwide, traditional housing options don't meet their needs. While landlords and real estate agents can attract these tenants and buyers by having apartments converted, in most cases, it's people themselves who're hunting for localities and properties with accessibility features. This short guide might shed some light on the topic that needs more consideration.

Image credit: Steven HWG via https://unsplash.com/@rebelvisual

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