Monday, December 1, 2008

Come see my new site

I now have my own domain and I invite you to visit my new site at '' for continuing information on accessible home design and the latest on the ADA and more that affects all of us and our families in the disabled community. I will from time to time post here as well but the main part ofg my efforts will be directed to my new site. So come and join me there and I look forward to meeting you there.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Great Outdoors Part 5

Parking and Entrances

As you can see from the illustration at the right, an accessible driveway is flat and level. Also there are no sudden changes in elevation from one area to another. The driveway is also wider than a one- car driveway by approximately another car width. This allows extra space on the right side of the vehicle for loading and unloading disabled passengers. The walkway from the driveway to the front entrance is wider than a normal sidewalk. To allow for accessibility, the front entrance needs to have a width of 48”. Also, there is not a change in elevation when you reach the porch. The transition from the walkway to the porch is flat and smooth. The porch has a slight angle to it. If you look closely you can see that it slopes from the front door to the flower bed. This create the zero threshold we discussed in an earlier post. The threshold itself is less than 1/2” high. There is one area that, for now, cannot be dealt with and that is the transition from the street to the driveway. In recent years this has begun to change, with curved, sloping curbs, but it still presents a challenge in some subdivisions. It is always a good idea, if possible, to create a landing pad at the curb. This is an area of concrete connecting the curb to the sidewalk or walkway to the front entrance. This provides a solid surface for unloading disabled visitors to your home as well as a solid path to your door. Until next time, breathe peace and God's Love.........................

The Great Outdoors Part 4

Outdoor Kitchen

When the term “outdoor kitchen” is used it can mean anything from a tabletop charcoal grill to a custom built outdoor kitchen setup. For the purpose of this discussion, we will talk about the latter. As with the indoor kitchen, counter top height is restricted to 32” anywhere it is expected that a disable person might use it. So, a prep area that is 32” high should be provided in the cooking and clean up areas to allow easy access. The toe kick should be modified to 9” x 6” and knee space should be provided underneath the cooking and sink areas. It might be necessary to lower the grill surface to 32” to accommodate a wheelchair user as well. The picture to the right illustrates a typical outdoor kitchen. As you can see, the current elevation would make this kitchen difficult to negotiate in a wheelchair. Breath Peace and God's Love.................................

The Great Outdoors Part 3


Pools can provide the opportunity for exercise for the physically challenged. It is important to provide safe access around the pool. We also need to provide specialized equipment to assist in moving the physically challenged from wheelchairs to the pool and back to their wheelchairs again. The hard scape around the pool needs to be a solid and surface free of changes in elevation to provide the needed stability. The depth of the shallow end of the pool needs two be less than 3 feet. Flotation devices should to be provided to aid the handicapped in flotation. The edge of pool should be slightly elevated to prevent wheelchairs from rolling into the pool, and wide pathways need to be provided around the entire pool as well as between all furniture around the pool for maximum accessibility. Also keep in mind that all changes in elevation should be gradual. If these guidelines are followed, you'll have a pool that everyone can enjoy. Breathe peace and God’s love……..

The Great Outdoors Part 2


When we think of the garden we generally see beds of shrubs and flowers. But when we consider accessible design for the garden we will deal with the hard scape. By hard scape we mean raised beds, water features, and walkways or paths. In dealing with the garden we must keep three basic things in mind: preventing falls, stability, and reach. Let's start with simplest of these which is reach. Reach involves primarily raised beds. We need to make sure that a raised bed is high enough to allow someone seated in a wheelchair to access the bed without leaning out too far. Now this rule would apply to any area one would need to reach into in order to maintain that area. Next, we need to address a way to prevent falls. To do this you have to avoid sudden changes in elevation that could cause tripping and sudden drop offs, which could be hazardous to wheelchair users. Last, but, not least, we come to the question of stability. For someone with an impaired ability to walk or who is in a wheelchair, a stable surface is very necessary. Areas covered with grass, sand or loose gravel do not provide the stable surface that people who are wheelchair bound would need in order to be mobile. Instead of using these unstable surfacing materials, consider using a hard-surfaced pathway or pathways made from compacted material, such as builder's sand, throughout the garden so that everyone, including the disabled, can enjoy the outdoors. And don’t forget to provide plenty of scattered seating for those who tire easily.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Great Outdoors Part 1

Since it is Spring and we are all thinking of outdoor activities I thought we would talk about accessible design for outdoor spaces. In the next few post we are going to cover several areas including the patio, garden, pool, and outdoor kitchen area. Also I will cover parking and entrances as well.


In discussing patios I also include decks, as many of the design factors apply to both. Also there are certain things that are unique to decks. A patio is any outdoor area, usually a poured concrete slab adjacent to an entrance to the main house. Usually there is an elevation change of 3” to 4” from the indoor floor level to the patio level. This is dealt with by using what is known as a zero threshold. This means that the elevation change is handled by a gradual change using a ramp about 24” long from the threshold of the door to the level of the patio. If this is being done during the construction phase of the house this ramp can be blended in to both slabs so that it is not noticeable. Or the entire patio is poured such that there is a slight slope from the entrance away form the house. Note: If this is a remodel and the ramp is not going to be blended in, then a 1” curb must be placed on both sides of the ramp to prevent a wheelchair from rolling off the sides of the ramp. As for the area of the patio itself the only concerns are the furniture placement. You must remember to leave enough space for a wheelchair to maneuver. This means aisle of 36” or more and an area of at least 60” for turn around. The last place in the patio we will look at is again a change in elevation. Also this only applies when going from the slab to a grass area or garden path. In that case we will use what is called a cut-in ramp. I will discuss this kind of ramp and many others in a future post. Accessible design for a deck involves mainly changes in elevation. In addition we need to concern ourselves with slipping and tripping. Again I will cover this in detail in a future post.