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Informed Consumer's Guide to Accessible Housing

AbleData Informed Consumer Guide to Accessible Housing


For most people, a home is more than a building: it is a state of mind, an expression of personality, the one place where it is possible simply to be. The types of homes in which people live reflect their tastes and priorities. Deciding to change that home, whether through remodeling or relocation, is a major decision. Finding the right house or apartment requires attention to a myriad of details: price range, location, aesthetics, overall floor space, the number of bedrooms, and more. People with disabilities face the same considerations, but as important as they are, they are overshadowed by the need for housing to be accessible: housing that enables people with disabilities to live their lives as independently as possible.

If a house is inadequate for the needs of the people living in it, it never quite becomes a home. For people with disabilities, a dwelling must be fully accessible to become a home. The purpose of the Informed Consumer Guide to Accessible Housing is to examine what accessible housing is, to discuss the types of products available to achieve accessibility, and to offer resources to assist in this endeavor.

For more information, see the AbleData Resource Center on Accessible Housing.

What Is Accessible Housing?

Whether or not a home is accessible depends upon the nature and extent of one's disability. As a practical matter, an accessible home is one that enables an individual to do what he or she needs and desires to do as independently as possible.

For an individual who can walk but has difficulty getting up or maintaining balance, access may require adding grab bars and a tub seat in the bathroom. Non-slip flooring and a stair lift may also be appropriate. For wheelchair users, access may require ramping entrances, widening doorways, lowering counters, adding lever or loop-style hardware to doors and drawers, and modifying storage areas. Individuals with severe physical disabilities such as quadriplegia may benefit from environmental control units (ECUs) that enable them to control heating, air conditioning, lights, and appliances from a central location, using an input method (such as a keyboard, switch, sip-and-puff, or speech) that matches their abilities.

People with sensory disabilities also require accessible housing, although their needs are different from those of people with mobility or other physical disabilities. Individuals with hearing disabilities require adaptations for such audible signals as the telephone ringer, the doorbell, and smoke alarms. Adaptations may include flashing lights or high decibel amplifiers. People who are blind may require Braille or tactile markings on appliance controls, and tactile marking of changes in floor level and stair edges. Talking microwaves and thermostats are also available. People with low vision may be accommodated with good lighting that does not produce glare as well as electrical outlets and light switches with plates in contrasting colors to the wall.

Because of their differing needs, the concept of accessibility often means different things to people with different disabilities. But there are also several concepts of accessibility that are not disability-specific but differ in their focus. These concepts include accessible design, adaptable design, universal design, and visitability.

Accessible design generally refers to houses or other dwellings that meet specific standards issued by a government agency or other standards-making organization. These standards are found in state and local building codes, Federal laws and regulations such as the Fair Housing Act Amendments and the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), and other sources such as the International Code Council (ICC) / American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A117.1 Standards for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, a model code that has been referenced by Federal law and regulations. These standards set minimum requirements for such features as door widths, clear space for wheelchair mobility, audible and visual signals, grab bars, and switch and outlet height. The accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulate the accessibility of public buildings and facilities.

In adaptable design, structural elements and other features that are hard to change after a house has been built are made accessible from the beginning, while the house's design allows other features to be added or changed as necessary to meet the needs of a resident with a disability. For instance, wider doorways and halls and barrier-free entrances are included as integral features, while bathroom walls may be designed with additional supports to allow for the installation of grab bars in the future. Cabinets under sinks can be designed to be removable, providing storage space until someone using a wheelchair requires the knee space. Similarly, closet rods and counter tops can be installed on adjustable glides, allowing them to be positioned for the needs of different users. For a house to qualify as "adaptable," it must be possible for changes to be made quickly without the use of skilled labor and without changing its essential structure or materials. Criteria for adaptable housing are included in the ANSI standards and UFAS.

Universal design aims at housing that is usable by all people, whether or not they have a disability, without adaptation. This is accomplished by designing wider halls and doors, barrier-free entrances, elevated electrical outlets, lowered switches, adjustable closet rods and shelves, adjustable counters, touch switches, and other features as integral elements in the building. This type of design makes the home usable by all family members, and recognizes that human abilities change over the life span.

Visitability is a concept focused on making equal social relations possible for people with disabilities by designing all homes so that people with disabilities can visit. The idea is that even if people with disabilities live in dwellings accessible to themselves, their social and family life is likely to be limited if they cannot visit other people’s homes in turn. Visitability resembles universal design but is somewhat narrower, given that what is necessary to visit a home is less than what is required to live there.

Access and Rental: The Fair Housing Act Amendments

It is not necessary to own a house in order to obtain accessible housing. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1989 (FHAA) extended the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to cover housing for people with disabilities. Under the FHAA, it is illegal to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of a dwelling, to refuse to process an offer, or to refuse a legitimate offer on the basis of an applicant's disability. It is also illegal to use differing applications or criteria for persons with and without disabilities or to segregate persons with disabilities to specific units or areas. Further, the FHAA renders it unlawful to inquire as to whether the buyer or renter has a disability and about the severity of the disability. These prohibitions apply to most housing options, including multi-family buildings, condominiums, cooperatives, and mobile homes. However, the FHAA does not apply to the sale or rental of single-family homes unless the owner owns more than three such homes at the same time and the sale or rental is conducted without the use of a real estate broker, agent, or salesperson. The FHAA also does not apply to multi-family dwellings of four or fewer units if the owner occupies one of those units as his or her place of residence.

Further, the FHAA specifies design and construction guidelines for multi-family residences begun or occupied for the first time after March 13, 1991. All units in a multi-family building of four or more units equipped with at least one elevator and ground-floor units in buildings of four or more units without elevators are required to be accessible. All such buildings must have at least one entrance on an accessible route (unless prohibited by terrain), have doors into and within all units wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, have an accessible route in and through all dwelling units, have accessible switches and controls, provide reinforcement of bathroom walls for installation of grab bars, and have all public and common areas accessible.

Within all housing units, the FHAA requires that the landlord or rental agent make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, and services required to enable a tenant with a disability to occupy and use a housing unit. Further, the law requires that the renter be allowed to make reasonable modifications to the dwelling at his or her expense to accommodate a disability. The landlord has the right to require that such modifications be accomplished in a professional manner, that the tenant acquire all necessary permits, and that the interior premises be restored to their original state upon termination of occupancy if such restoration can be readily accomplished and if the accommodations may interfere with a future tenant's use or enjoyment of the unit. For instance, the landlord may require that grab bars be removed and walls repaired, but not that the supportive blocking behind the walls be removed. Similarly, it would be considered unreasonable to constrain the tenant to restore doorways to their original width once they had been widened to accommodate a wheelchair. It is also considered unnecessary to restore exterior modifications because necessary modifications do not restrict future tenants' use of the dwelling.

Achieving Accessibility

While achieving accessibility may mean finding a new apartment or designing and building a single-family home to the specifications that meet the needs of a person with a specific disability, it is often possible to adapt or modify current and existing housing using various assistive technologies.

When considering which adaptations to make, it is essential that the person with the disability evaluate the rooms and spaces in terms of usability. If the person with the disability needs or desires to use the space, it must be accessible. This includes living, family, and recreational areas, as well as closets and laundry facilities.

Hearing Disabilities

People who are deaf or hard of hearing require modifications in areas where audible signals are utilized. The most familiar adaptive devices for people who are deaf are text telephones (also known as TT, TTY, or TDD); these devices enable people who are deaf or have speech or communication disabilities to converse on the telephone using a keyboard and visual display. For those with less severe hearing disabilities, amplified handsets may suffice to provide telephone access.

However, access is also required for other systems in the home with audible signals, including smoke alarms, security system alarms, doorbells and chimes, telephone ringers, and door knockers. Multi-purpose systems are available that use microphones and transmitters to cause connected lights to flash or a bed or pillow vibrator to activate when a sound occurs. Some units are also designed to detect the sound of a crying baby. Most of these systems are equipped with adjustable sensitivity levels to screen out ordinary sound and activity. Other systems are designed for specific purposes; for example, an interface connected to a standard burglar alarm can cause lights to flash, and smoke alarms may provide both audible and visual warnings. Permanent and portable systems are available.

Visual Disabilities

Accessible housing for people with visual disabilities may, in large measure, be achieved with relatively minor modifications. For example, rearranging the furniture may be an easy way to establish clear travel paths through rooms and in hallways. Since people who are blind use their memory to navigate through a familiar environment, furnishings should not be moved too often or without the knowledge of the household member who is blind.

Low hanging lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, and protruding objects such as wall-mounted lamps can be hazardous to persons with visual disabilities, and it may be necessary to remove or replace them if they cannot be raised above head level. Door thresholds should be flush with the floor or fitted with small beveled ramps to remove tripping hazards. Tactile warning strips may be used to mark abrupt changes in floor level, the edges of steps, and the transition from one area to another. For those with low vision, similar results may be achieved using contrasting colors or tape markers on surfaces to indicate changes.

Lighting plays a large role in making a home accessible to people with low vision, but the specific role it plays may be very different depending on the individual. Some people with low vision, including many with retinitis pigmentosa or glaucoma, need more light, and are best served by lighting that is bright and consistent throughout the house. However, others experience glare in bright light and may prefer dim light and drawn curtains. For them, rooms that have white walls and light-colored furnishings or receive too much sunlight are to be avoided.

"Low tech" solutions for people with visual impairments include Braille or large print labels and tactile markings for switches and controls. Although flat panel controls have become common, some appliances and environmental controls such as thermostats are still available with tactile markings. In addition, some manufacturers offer Braille overlays for appliances. If tactile controls are not offered by the manufacturer, tactile markings can be added using Braille labeling tape, adhesive bumps, or marking fluid that hardens to form raised dots or lines. As a high tech alternative, talking thermostats and microwave ovens are also available.

Physical and Mobility Disabilities

Some of the adaptations mentioned above, such as door sill ramps and proper lighting, are also beneficial to individuals with mobility and other physical disabilities, but further accessibility measures are often required for people who use walkers or wheelchairs, as well as those whose disabilities affect the use of their hands.


For persons with mobility disabilities requiring the use of wheelchairs and/or walkers, accessibility barriers frequently begin outside the home. The presence of even one or two steps or a threshold rise can make entry impossible. Options for overcoming vertical access barriers include a variety of ramps and lifts.

A threshold ramp allows a wheelchair to get over a small threshold rise, such as when the level inside a room is slightly higher than the level outside the room, or when a doorframe includes a bottom section above floor level. Portable or semi-permanent ramps of aluminum, stainless steel, or fiberglass can be used to get over or bypass a small flight of stairs, such as porch steps. Longer or steeper inclines may be overcome with modular ramps, or it may be necessary to construct a wooden or concrete ramp.

Picture of the Aluminum Threshold Ramp from HandiRamp.
Figure 1:  This Aluminum Threshold Ramp from Handi-Ramp enables a wheelchair user to get over a small threshold rise.

Ramps should be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair with extra space on either side for safety. The incline should be gradual enough to allow the user to get up the ramp without danger of tipping over backwards or tiring out before reaching the top. Steeper or more gradual inclines may be appropriate in different locations. For example, a steeper incline may be tolerable in a short threshold ramp, while an exterior ramp should be particularly gradual in climates where ice and snow are common. If the rise is long, a landing platform should be constructed halfway up the ramp. Additional safety requirements include handrails on both sides and a non-slip surface.

Picture of the Add-A-Ramp System from Quest Engineering installed between an exterior walkway and a front door.
Figure 2:  The Add-A-Ramp System from Quest Engineering is a modular fiberglass ramp that can be adapted to different locations.

Platform lifts and enclosed residential elevators are alternatives, particularly where the terrain makes ramping impractical or where entries are too high to be accommodated with a ramp, such as those above a walk-out basement or on a deck. These devices can also provide indoor access in multi-level dwellings (see below).

Picture of the Vertical Home Lift from Mac’s Lift Gate installed for a mobile home door.
Figure 3:  The Vertical Home Lift from Mac’s Lift Gate is an exterior wheelchair lift that can raise a wheelchair user to the level of an entrance door.

Doors and Doorways

Once past the front steps, the next barriers are frequently narrow doorways and hard-to-grasp doorknobs. In order to accommodate a wheelchair or walker, doorways should be wide enough to provide space for the width of the wheelchair or walker as well as ample hand clearance. In homes where moving walls to widen doorways is not an option, removing doors or installing pocket doors that slide into the wall when not in use may gain additional width. Another option is the use of offset hinges that allow the door to swing clear of the opening and provide up to two inches of additional space in the doorway. Wherever possible, small rooms should be fitted with doors and hinges that open outward to prevent the door from being blocked from the inside in case of emergency.

Picture of a Swing Clear Door Hinge from Stanley Hardware.
Figure 4:  The Swing Clear Door Hinge from Stanley Hardware is an offset door hinge that can provide extra clearance in a doorway by allowing the door to be swung away from its frame.

Door knobs and locks are also major factors in accessibility. Standard round door knobs and other types of handles which require grasping, twisting, or pressure are often unmanageable for those who are unable to use their hands or who have diminished strength and grasping ability. Ideally, standard lock and knob sets should be replaced with lever-style handles. In those instances where knob and lock replacement is not possible, several manufacturers offer lever handles that fit over the existing knob. Some of these devices are portable, allowing them to be moved from room to room or used when traveling.

Picture of a Kwikset Dorian Door Lever from Kwikset Corporation.
Figure 5:  The Kwikset Dorian Door Lever from Kwikset Corporation is a lever-style door handle.

Picture of the Portable Door Knob Turner from North Coast Medical.
Figure 6:  The Portable Door Knob Turner from North Coast Medical is a lever handle that attaches to an existing knob.

Security is another consideration in knob and lock selection. Push-button locks that disengage when the door is opened from the inside are among the most accessible for people with disabilities, but may not provide adequate security. Some other options include slide bolts, remote control locks, and electronic keypads.

Picture of Electronic Touchpad (Keyless) Lockset with Lever Handle.
Figure 7:  This Electronic Touchpad (Keyless) Lockset with Lever Handle is sold by Improvements Catalog.

Movement Between Floors

Technologies to help people with physical disabilities move between floors include home elevators, wheelchair lifts, and stair lifts. A stair lift has a seat that runs on a track up and down the stairway, usually to one side so that household members without disabilities can pass by. Home elevators and lifts carry individuals in wheelchairs as well as others with physical disabilities from one level to another. Lifts and elevators may include features such as powered doors; internal lighting; custom controls and cabs; and emergency safety systems in case of power failure.

Picture of a Custom Residential Elevator from Waupaca Elevator Company.
Figure 8:  The Custom Residential Elevator from Waupaca Elevator Company can carry a wheelchair user from one floor to another.

Picture of an Ameriglide Battery Powered Stair Lift.
Figure 9:  The Ameriglide Battery Powered Stair Lift is an interior stair lift that carries the user up the stairway on a track.

Movement in Hallways and Rooms

For movement in hallways and rooms, adequate space is of paramount importance. Hallways should be wide enough for the wheelchair or walker frame, but there should also be space for the user’s arms, for turning around, and for someone to pass in the other direction. Kitchens, bathrooms, and other rooms should have enough clear space for maneuvering and turning around, with full access to appliances and fixtures.


In order to be accessible to a wheelchair user, bathroom fixtures must be at an appropriate height and within reach from a seated position. People who use wheelchairs usually require grab bars to transfer to and from a toilet, and often can transfer more easily when the toilet has a higher seat. Other individuals with physical disabilities who have difficulty rising from a seated position also benefit from a higher toilet seat and grab bars, which can be floor- or wall-mounted or attached to the toilet itself. Toilet height can be increased by installing a specially designed tall toilet, by placing a wall-mounted unit higher on the wall, or by adding an elevated seat to a standard unit. In addition, the tissue holder needs to be mounted within convenient reach.

Picture of the Tall-Ette Extra-Wide Elevated Toilet Seat from Maddak.
Figure 10:  The Tall-Ette Extra-Wide Elevated Toilet Seat from Maddak has built-in support arms and attaches to a regular toilet.

Picture of the ADA Compliant Ultra Flush Two Piece Pressure-Assist Toilet from Gerber Plumbing Fixtures Corp.
Figure 11:  The ADA Compliant Ultra Flush Two Piece Pressure-Assist Toilet from Gerber Plumbing Fixtures Corp. has a 17-inch-high rim.

Picture of the Inverted T Grab Bar from Jaclo Industries.
Figure 12: This Inverted T Grab Bar from Jaclo Industries provides both vertical and horizontal grip.

In order for an individual who uses a wheelchair to reach the faucet, the sink should have enough clearance below to allow the wheelchair to roll underneath it. Frequently, this requires removal of below-sink cabinets. When removing cabinets, care should be taken to cover exposed pipes and sharp edges and surfaces. Faucets should be within easy reach and operable with one hand. For individuals without the use of their hands or who have limited strength, faucets equipped with electronic sensors can turn water on and off automatically. Another access option is the installation of a faucet that can be activated using a single switch.

Picture of a pair of Wrist Blade Handles from Gerber Plumbing Fixtures Corporation.
Figure 13:  These Wrist Blade Handles from Gerber Plumbing Fixtures Corporation make faucets easier to use for individuals with upper extremity disabilities.

Picture of of the Kohler Touchless Electronic Faucet.
Figure 14:  The Kohler Touchless Electronic Faucet has infrared sensors that start water flowing when a hand is placed beneath the faucet.

Access to bathing facilities is critical. In order to prevent injury and to facilitate transfers, bath and shower enclosures should be free of door tracks or other obstructions and sharp edges. Tubs and showers should be equipped with grab bars and built-in seats or portable tub benches for users who cannot stand or maintain balance while standing. Seats should be positioned so that controls are within easy reach. To facilitate bathing or showering while seated, hand-held shower attachments are helpful. Other safety options include anti-scald valves to prevent water temperature from exceeding a pre-set limit and offset controls that allow regulation of the water temperature from outside the tub or shower.

For wheelchair users, a roll-in shower allows the user to enter the shower in a shower chair with caster wheels, or to enter in a wheelchair before transferring to a shower seat. Roll-in showers have a low floor rim that keeps water in while allowing the chair to enter. Shower chairs are typically made of PVC plastic or rubber-coated stainless steel, and have an oval hole in the bottom of the seat for cleaning access.

Transfer benches are intended to enable individuals who use wheelchairs, have a balance disability or do not have the strength to support themselves to enter a bath tub safely. The bench straddles the edge of the bathtub, with two legs outside the tub on the bathroom floor and two legs on the tub floor. The user sits on the extension or transfers to it from a wheelchair, then slides over to the part inside the tub, either using grab bars or with the help of a personal assistant or caregiver.  These benches may have padded seats and backs or molded seating surfaces.

Picture of the Accessabath Bath Safety System from American Bath Enterprises.
Figure 15:  The Accessabath Bath Safety System from American Bath Enterprises is a roll-in shower with built-in grab bars and seat.

Picture of the Essential Padded Bathtub Transfer Bench from Essential Medical Supply.
Figure 16:  The Essential Padded Bathtub Transfer Bench from Essential Medical Supply enables the user to slide into the bathtub from outside.

Walk-in bathtubs feature a side door, enabling ambulatory users to enter the tub without stepping over the high tub wall. Bathtub inserts are also available to convert a standard tub into a walk in tub.

Picture of the Low Rise Walk-In Bathtub from Independent Living USA.
Figure 17:  The Low Rise Walk-In Bathtub from Independent Living USA has a door that allows the user to enter without stepping over the tub wall.


Some of the adaptations made to the bathroom can be beneficial in the kitchen as well, including removal of under-sink cabinets to allow wheelchair access to the sink, faucet control modification, anti-scald valves, and adequate floor space to facilitate turning and access to all fixtures and appliances.

Appliances such as stoves, ovens and cooktops should be low enough to be accessible to wheelchair users and should be equipped with accessible controls on the front or side. Rear-mounted controls are hazardous on a stove or cooktop when a burner is on since a wheelchair user may be burned reaching over the flame or heating element.  Some rear- mounted controls may be too far from the front of the appliance for a wheelchair user to reach at all.

Appliances should also be adjacent to counter space to facilitate movement while preparing food. A self-cleaning oven is also helpful. Under-counter appliances may be easier for a wheelchair user to reach, and some, such as drawer dishwashers, may also be helpful for those who have difficulty bending over.

Picture of the KitchenAid Single Drawer Dishwasher.
Figure 18:  The KitchenAid Single Drawer Dishwasher has one drawer that pulls out from under the counter, providing easier access for some with physical disabilities.

Another consideration in the kitchen is access to cabinets, shelves, and countertops. Countertops should be low enough to be accessible to wheelchair users, and cabinets should also have shelves low enough for a wheelchair user to reach. To allow people who use wheelchairs to get close enough to reach the countertop, base cabinets should have toe kicks, extra space above the floor to accommodate wheelchair footplates.

Picture of a kitchen equipped with cabinets from the Accessible Living Collection from Wellborn Cabinet.

Figure 19:  The Accessible Living Collection from Wellborn Cabinet includes base cabinets with low countertops and toe kicks.

For individuals who have difficulty reaching the back of shelves, roll-out shelves are available. Powered cabinets allow higher shelving units to be lowered to countertop level.

Picture of Glide-Out Shelves from ShelfGenie installed in a pantry and 2 cabinets in a kitchen with all of the shelves extended.
Figure 20:  Glide-Out Shelves from ShelfGenie feature rollout shelving that can be useful for individuals who have difficulty reaching to the back of shelves.

Storage and Laundry

Clothes closets can often be made accessible to a wheelchair user simply by lowering the hanging rods. When the existing rod is an integral part of the closet, a second rod may be installed below it. Another option is the use of modular storage systems that include hanging rods, shelves, and drawers that can be configured to the specific requirements of the user. Powered units that raise and lower and/or rotate shelves and racks also are available.

Picture of the Suspend-A-Rod from Control Specialties Ltd.
Figure 21:  Suspend-A-Rod from Control Specialties Ltd. is a closet rod that can be suspended from a higher rod.

Laundry facilities also need to be accessible if full independence is to be achieved. As in other areas of the home, this involves providing sufficiently wide doorways, space for maneuvering, and suitable appliances. Most often, front-loading washers and dryers with easily operated, front-mounted controls provide the necessary access.

Environmental Controls

Computerized environmental control systems will operate lights, televisions, stereos, heating and cooling systems, security systems, and other electric systems and appliances from a computer keyboard or remote control module.  These systems may use keys, switches, or voice commands to operate a particular function. These systems may be particularly useful for individuals with severe physical disabilities and other mobility disabilities. Lighting systems that sense people in a room, automatically turning lights on when someone enters a room and turning lights off when the room is unoccupied, may also be useful.

Picture of the Simplicity Environmental Control Unit.
Figure 22:  The Simplicity Environmental Control Unit from Quartet Technology is available in switch-operated, voice-operated, and dual units.


This AbleData Informed Consumer Guide is a broad introduction to the practical aspects of accessible housing. It is designed to provide initial guidance on what can be done and what needs to be done to make a home accessible. More detailed discussions of particular issues can be found in the books and articles listed below under Publications, and from organizations and Web sites listed below under Resources. Additional guidance may be sought from rehabilitation professionals such as occupational therapists, from caregiver support groups, and from organizations of people with disabilities.

An excellent source of information about accessible housing in the local area is the nearest Center for Independent Living (CIL). CILs are local or regional organizations managed and staffed by individuals with disabilities that provide information and support to help people with disabilities live independently in the local community. There are too many local CILs to include a complete list in this Guide; however, the following sources provide contact information for most CILs:

Once the kinds of modifications needed are determined, information about specific products to help achieve the goal of accessible housing is available from the AbleData online database of assistive technology which provides information about and descriptions of more than 36,000 products for people with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. Information Specialists are available to help provide specific information about a particular product or type of product or contact information for manufacturers and distributors of assistive technology.

Paying for Accessible Housing

Whether one is building an accessible home or modifying an existing residence, the total cost can be high. What follows is a brief overview of some of the available funding options. For a more complete discussion of funding sources, see the AbleData Informed Consumer's Guide to Funding Assistive Technology, which can be viewed or downloaded free of charge from the AbleData Web site.

A home equity or other bank loan may be one source of financing. In many states, an alternative financing program provides guaranteed loans for home modifications for individuals with disabilities. For a list of such programs, see the AbleData Resource Center on Alternative Financing Programs.

Depending upon a person's circumstances and the nature of his or her disability, other possible sources of funding may include medical insurance, government agencies such as vocational rehabilitation or services for the aging, and private organizations that help people with disabilities. To help people with disabilities find these resources, each state has a Federally funded assistive technology project that provides information on resources available in that state for funding assistive technology. For a list of such projects, see the AbleData Resource Center on State Assistive Technology Projects. A list of national funding sources is provided in the AbleData Funding Resource Center.

The local Center for Independent Living can also provide information on funding assistance available in the local community. Additional information on funding accessible housing is available from a number of the organizations listed in this Guide under Resources and in the AbleData Accessible Housing Resource Center.


AARP (formerly American Association of Retired Persons)
601 E Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20049 USA
Telephone: 888-687-2277 toll free.
AARP has publications and information related to safe and comfortable housing for seniors. Much of the information is collected on the AARP Home Design Web page,

Access Board
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20004-1111 USA
Telephone: 800-872-2253 toll free or 202-272-0080.
TT: 800-993-2822 toll free or 202-272-0082.
Fax: 202-272-0081.
Originally named the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, the Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The board issues standards and guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and provides technical assistance and training on these requirements and on accessible design.

Accessibility Equipment Manufacturers Association (AEMA)
PO Box 380
Metamora, Illinois 61548-0380 USA
Telephone: 800-514-1100 toll free.
Fax: 309-923-7964.
AEMA is an association of persons, firms, and corporations with an interest in the private residence elevator and accessibility equipment industry. Members get access to in-depth code information at the regional level, as well as industry research data and news. The AEMA Web site includes a member directory and information on accessibility equipment.

Accessibility Services of United Spinal Association
33 Leo Crest Court
West Seneca, New York 14224 USA
Telephone: 716-828-9139.
Fax: 716-828-9108.
Accessibility Services provides training and consultation on state and Federal accessibility requirements for design professionals and code enforcement officials.

Adaptive Architecture
26 Charlotte Drive
Spring Valley, New York 10977 USA
Telephone: 845-364-0337.
Fax: 845-364-0264.
Adaptive Architecture is an architectural firm specializing in accessible environments for people with disabilities. The firm designs residential homes and additions for clients, as well as commercial office buildings and interiors.

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
11 Penn Plaza
New York, New York 10001 USA
Telephone: 800-232-5463 toll free or 212-502-7600.
Fax: 212-502-7777.
In its AFB TECH labs, AFB conducts research on the accessibility for blind users of many types of products, including home appliances. Results are published in AFB’s online journal AccessWorld and summarized in the AFB AccessWorld Appliance Accessibility Guide.

American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
608 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Washington, D.C. 20002-6006
Telephone: 202-546-3480.
Fax: 202-546-3240.
Web site:
ASID is a professional organization for interior designers. Its magazine, ASID Icon, occasionally publishes articles on designing and remodeling for seniors and people with disabilities, and information on these topics is collected on the Aging & Accessibility page of the ASID Web site,

Blind Handyman
Phil Parr, Host
1604 Southwood Drive
Lufkin, Texas 75904 USA
Telephone: 936-634-9500.
The Blind Handyman is a radio program carried on many local radio reading services for the blind and on ACB Radio, an Internet radio station for the blind. The program discusses home building, repair, and maintenance from a blind perspective. Programs are archived at the On Demand page of the ACB Radio Web site,

Center for Housing and New Community Economics (CHANCE)
Institute on Disability/UCE, University of New Hampshire
10 West Edge Drive, Suite 101
Durham, New Hampshire 03824-3522 USA
Telephone: 603-862-4320.
Fax: 603-862-0555.
CHANCE's mission is to improve and increase access to integrated, affordable, and accessible housing coordinated with, but separate from, personal assistance and supportive services. CHANCE seeks to offer alternatives to approaches that segregate, congregate, and control people with disabilities.

Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center)
378 Hayes Hall, School of Architecture and Planning
3435 Main Street
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York 14214-3087 USA
Telephone: 716-829-3485 extension 329.
TT: 716-829-3758.
Fax: 716-829-3861.
The IDEA Center’s Home Modifications Project ( provides design and consulting services for families and individuals, social service agencies, and not-for-profit organizations, and the IDEA Center’s Web site also features a Gallery of Bright Ideas showing kitchen and bathroom products, ramps and lifts, grab bars, and other products from a variety of companies that place emphasis on Universal Design.

Center for Universal Design
North Carolina State University College of Design
101 Leazar Hall
2230 Katherine Stinson Drive
Raleigh, North Carolina 27695 USA
Telephone: 800-647-6777 toll free or 919-515-3082.
Fax: 919-515-8951.
The Center for Universal Design is a national research, information, and technical assistance center that evaluates, develops, and promotes accessible and universal design in housing, buildings, outdoor and urban environments, and related products.

Concrete Change
600 Dancing Fox Road
Decatur, Georgia 30032 USA
Telephone: 404-378-7455.
The Campaign for Concrete Change has the goal of making every new home visitable, that is, fully accessible to people with disabilities. Although its focus is on new homes, its Web site has information on visitability that can be applied to the modification of existing homes as well. 

Dave Regel Construction, Inc.
1633 County Highway 10, Suite 3 West
Spring Lake Park, Minnesota 55432 USA
Telephone: 866-408-0833 toll free or 763-785-0833.
Fax: 763-785-0844.
This company custom builds accessible homes. The founder, Dave Regel, has published a DVD and manual with step-by-step instructions for other builders on how to build in barrier free amenities. The DVD, called "Beyond Barrier Free: Accessible Home Builders Knowledge Program," is available for purchase at

EasyLiving Home
755 Commerce Drive, Suite 415
Decatur, Georgia 30030 USA
Telephone: 770-270-1611.
Fax: 770-936-1954.
EasyLiving Home is a voluntary certification program for visitable homes. The program was developed by a coalition of public and private organizations to encourage the voluntary inclusion of key features that make a home cost effective, accessible and convenient for everyone without sacrificing style or adding substantial construction costs. EasyLiving Homes are designed for easy access, easy passage, and easy use. Begun in Georgia, the program has affiliates in Kansas/Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, and seeks to add affiliates in other states.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
On this ABC television series, which airs Sunday nights at 8 PM, a team of professional designers is given one week to transform an entire home. In many episodes, the designers incorporate universal design concepts into their rebuild. Among the recipients of home makeovers have been Iraq veterans with leg amputation and spinal cord injury, a family with a son who is a blind wheelchair user, a family with deaf parents and a blind autistic child, a woman with multiple sclerosis, and a family that includes children with a variety of orthopedic disabilities. Many segments from the series have been posted on YouTube.

Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST
Telephone: 888-341-7781 toll free.
TT: 888-341-7781 option 1.
To promote compliance with the design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act, Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST offers comprehensive and detailed information, online Web resources, and a toll-free line for technical guidance and support. The program is supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by BearingPoint, a company based in McLean, Virginia.

Home Access Program
510 North Avenue
Libertyville, Illinois 60048 USA
Telephone: 800-876-RAMP toll free or 847-680-7700.
Fax: 847-816-8866.
The Home Access Program is an initiative started by Handi-Ramp, a manufacturer of access ramps. Its Web site includes a searchable database of home accessibility consultants in all parts of the United States who can aid in home modifications. Other resources include news/press releases, a database of realtors, and links to books, products, and other organizations.

Home Wheelchair Ramp Project
Metropolitan Center for Independent Living
1600 University Avenue West, Suite 16
St. Paul, Minnesota 55104-3834 USA
Telephone: 651-603-2029.
TT: 651-603-2001.
Fax: 651-603-2006.
MCIL's Ramp Project provides guidance in arranging for resources, construction and ownership of ramps, both permanent and temporary. In addition, the Ramp Project has produced a Ramp Manual and videotape. The manual provides step-by-step instructions for construction of a ramp using MCIL's own modular design.
Fall Prevention Center of Excellence
University of Southern California
Andrus Gerontology Center
3715 McClintock Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90089-0191 USA
Telephone: 213-740-1364.
Fax: 213-740-7069.
This Web site serves as an information clearinghouse on home modification for both professionals and consumers, with online courses, Frequently Asked Questions, and a National Directory of Home Modification and Repair Resources.

Homes for Our Troops, Inc.
37 Main Street
Taunton, Massachusetts 02780 USA
Telephone: 866-7-TROOPS toll free or 508-823-3300.
Fax: 508-823-5411.
Homes for Our Troops is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 that assists severely injured veterans and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and coordinating the process of building a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
451 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20410 USA
Telephone: 877-234-2717 toll free or 202-708-1112.
TT: 202-708-1455.
HUD has two loan programs that can be used for accessibility improvements; a program to fund supportive housing; and informational Web pages.

P.O. Box 23268
Washington, D.C. 20026-3268 USA
Telephone: 800-245-2691 toll free or 202-708-3178.
TT: 800-927-7589 toll free.
Fax: 202-708-9981.
Sponsored by the HUD Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), HUD USER is a source for research and data on housing in the United States. It provides free downloads of more than 1,000 publications and data sets published by PD&R. Most of the reports can also be ordered in hard copy from the HUD USER Web Store for a nominal fee.

Institute for Human Centered Design
180-200 Portland Street, Suite 1
Boston, Massachusetts 02114 USA
Telephone: 617-695-1225.
TT: 617-695-1225.
Fax: 617-482-8099.
The Institute for Human Centered Design promotes best practices in universal design through education, training, and consultation. Current projects include design and construction technical assistance through the Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST Program, and ADA technical assistance through the DBTAC-New England ADA Center. The institute's publications include A Consumer's Guide to Home Adaptation.

U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530 USA
Telephone: 202-514-4713.
TT: 202-305-1882.
Fax: 202-514-1116.
The Division enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all types of housing transactions. According to the Department’s Web site, recent enforcement efforts have focused on discriminatory zoning and the accessibility of newly constructed multifamily housing.

Lighthouse International
111 East 59th Street
New York, New York 10022-1202 USA
Telephone: 800-829-0500 toll free or 212-821-9200.
TT: 212-821-9713.
Fax: 212-821-9707.
Lighthouse International is a major provider of vision rehabilitation services in New York. Its Web site features a section titled, "Living Better: A Guide for People with Vision Loss,", with information on kitchen adaptations, lighting, and labeling, and videos on such topics as "Using the Oven" and "Using the Stove."

Mary Jo Peterson, Inc.
3 Sunset Cove Road
Brookfield, Connecticut 06804 USA
Telephone: 203-775-4763.
Fax: 203-740-2333.
Mary Jo Peterson, Inc. is a design studio and consulting firm with specialized expertise in kitchen, bath, and universal/accessible design.

National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC)
1400 16th Street NW, Suite 420
Washington, D.C. 20036 USA
Telephone: 202-939-1784.
Fax: 202-265-4435.
NAIPC is a membership organization that provides a national forum for individuals from the aging, healthcare, financial services, legal, design and building sectors to work together to help seniors to continue living in the housing of their choice. Resources on the NAIPC Web site include a Guide to Making Your Home Senior Friendly, with tips on entryways, bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, lighting, and the yard as well as a list of the Top Ten Product Ideas.

National Association of Elevator Contractors
1298 Wellborrk Circle, Suite A
Conyers, Georgia 30012 USA
Telephone: 800-900-6232 toll free or 770-760-9660.
Fax: 770-760-9714.
The NAEC's members install and maintain elevators and lifts in homes and offices. The site provides some useful information on the elevator/lift industry, including a member directory of contractors, professionals, and suppliers.

NAHB Research Center
National Association of Home Builders
400 Prince George’s Boulevard
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20774 USA
Telephone: 800-638-8556 toll free or 301-249-4000.
Fax: 301-430-6180.
The NAHB Research Center publishes an annual directory of accessible building materials, and its bookstore offers guides to aging-in-place and home safety for seniors.

National Handicap Housing Institute, Inc.
1050 Thornsdale Avenue
New Brighton, Minnesota 55112 USA
Telephone: 651-639-9799.
Fax: 651-639-9699.
NHHI provides services related to the development, design, financing, marketing and management of barrier free, affordable housing for very low-income adults with physical disabilities.

National Kitchen and Bath Association
687 Willow Grove Street
Hackettstown, New Jersey 07840 USA
Telephone: 800-843-6522 toll free.
Fax: 908-852-1695.
The Consumers section of the NKBA Web site includes the NKBA Kitchen & Bathroom Planning Guidelines with Access Standards; information on remodeling; Steps to a Safe Kitchen; and Steps to a Safe Bathroom. The NKBA is an industry association with over 40,000 members, including builders / remodelers, dealers, manufacturers, and others in the kitchen/bath industry.

National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification
USC Andrus Gerontology Center
3715 McClintock Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90089-0191 USA
Telephone: 213-740-1364.
Fax: 213-740-7069.
The Center promotes home modification to make tasks easier, reduce accidents, and support independent living. This Web site offers resources to aid in modifying homes so that older individuals or people with disabilities are able to remain in their homes longer rather than moving to assistive living or other supervised living arrangements.

Rebuilding Together, Inc.
1899 L Street NW
Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20036 USA
Telephone: 800-473-4229 toll free.
Fax: 202-483-9081.
Rebuilding Together is a nonprofit working to preserve affordable homeownership for low-income families, including individuals with disabilities and seniors. Its network of more than 200 affiliates provides free rehabilitation and critical repairs to enable low income disabled and aging homeowners to remain in their homes for as long as possible, making homes safer, more accessible, and more energy efficient.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design at Buffalo (RERC-UD)
School of Architecture and Planning - University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York 14214-3087 USA
Telephone: 800-628-2281 toll free or 716-829-3485 ext. 327.
Fax: 716-829-3861.
The RERC-UD's projects include research aimed at creating evidence-based guidelines for universal design, and supplying technical expertise for building model homes in collaboration with local members of the National Association of Home Builders.

ServiceMagic, Inc.
14023 Denver West Parkway
Bldg. 64, Suite 200
Golden, Colorado 80401 USA
Telephone: 800-474-1596 toll free or 303-963-7200.
Fax: 303-980-3003.
The ServiceMagic Web site has interactive menus that can match homeowners to prescreened disability service contractors who can remodel to accommodate a disability. It also contains informational articles on topics such as senior-friendly remodeling and remodeling for wheelchair access.

Shared Solutions America
974 Bremen Way
Alpine, California 91901 USA
Shared Solutions America is a national non-profit organization and resource center dedicated to educating adults age 50-plus and people of all ages with disabilities about how to apply the principles of universal and accessible design in both new and existing living environments. Its Web site includes galleries of pictures illustrating accessibility features in all parts of the home.

Simplified Disabled Housing
Florida USA
Telephone: 951-902-5838.
This company offers a system of mass-produced but individualized accessible housing in new housing developments. In this system, customers tour a model home and make simple adjustments using a series of color-coded measurement marking dots at various heights and depths on the walls and cabinets. Each simple dot represents a custom option made to address a specific accessibility need. Customers mark cards to show which the options they would like for each feature in the house, and the new home is built with every feature in the house customized to the customer's specifications.

TAD Journal - Technical Aid to the Disabled
Locked Bag 2008
Wentworthville, New South Wales 2145, Australia
Telephone: +61-2-9912-3400.
Fax: +61-2-9890-1911.
TAD Journal contains brief articles on aids custom-designed and built for individuals with disabilities by volunteers for the Australian organization, Technical Aid to the Disabled, including some for home accessibility. Many of these custom products are described in the AbleData database, and recent back issues of the TAD Journal appear on the TAD Web site.


The articles and books listed in this section may be helpful to a person who is considering home modifications or seeking accessible housing. When available, a link is provided to a Web page on which the text of the publication can be viewed free of charge or to a Web page from which the publication can be purchased online. The views stated are those of each article's author(s) and do not reflect the opinions of AbleData or the U.S. Department of Education.


“25 Things to Know About Universal Design,”, no date [retrieved May 12, 2009].
Web (to view text):
Article from the Better Homes and Gardens Web site offers 25 tips for making a home welcoming and accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.

AARP, “Home Modification: Your Key to Comfort, Safety, and Independent Living,” Washington, D.C., 2006, 24 pages.
Web (to order free text):
This booklet discusses home modifications that allow older homeowners to continue living in their homes. The booklet includes home safety and maintenance checklists, descriptions of no-cost, low-cost, and major home modifications, and information on hiring a contractor and financing home modifications.

AARP, The Do-Able Renewable Home: Making Your Home Fit Your Needs, Washington, D.C., no date.
Web (to view text): or
This book offers practical ways to adapt a home to the physical abilities of the aging body, including accessible stairs and ramps and modifications for the bathroom and kitchen. Originally produced by AARP, this book has been reissued by a number of organizations.

AARP, “Your Home and Community: Are They Ready for You?” Washington, D.C., no date, 16 pages.
Web (to order free text):
Seniors who wish to stay in their current home and community as long as possible will find useful information in this booklet. It offers extensive checklists to evaluate the reader’s home and community livability.

The Accessible Home: Updating Your Home for Changing Physical Needs, Minneapolis, Creative Publishing International, 2003, 144 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This handbook provides practical information for homeowners who wish to do their own work in adapting an existing home to make it accessible to family members with physical disabilities, based on universal design principles.

Access Board, U.S., ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) for Buildings and Facilities.
Web (to view text):
This government document contains scoping and technical requirements for accessibility of buildings and facilities under the ADA. These requirements apply to all areas of newly designed or newly constructed buildings and facilities and altered portions of existing buildings and facilities covered by titles II and III of the ADA.

Altman, Adelaide, ElderHouse: Planning Your Best Home Ever, White River Jct., Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2002, 256 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
Downsizing and adapting the family home can help seniors live comfortably and independently as they age. This illustrated book takes the reader through an average house, explaining how to build or retrofit safer walkways, better-lit spaces, wider doors, lower cabinets, and handy grab bars.

Ayala, Albert M., The Right Space: A Wheelchair Accessibility Guide for Single-Family Homes, Chandler, Arizona: Debold - Marquez Books, 2005, 236 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
Mr. Ayala provides an illustrated step-by-step guide to building a wheelchair-accessible one-family home. Adhering to accessibility guidelines of the ADA, the guide includes several hundred three-dimensional pictures that illustrate basic floor spaces and fixtures within a home’s first floor, including the bathroom and kitchen.

Bakker, Rosemary, Elder Design: Designing and Furnishing a Home for Your Later Years, New York: Penguin Books, 1997, 224 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This guide is intended for seniors who seek to modify their home to make it safer and more comfortable as they age. Written by a geriatric environmental specialist, the book takes the reader room by room through an average house, teaching essential rules of thumb, pointing out hazards, and offering solutions that range from simple color changes to whole-scale renovation. Advice is given to readers with sensory or physical limitations, including cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer's disease, regarding furnishings and design ideas that enhance mobility, vision, hearing, and memory skills.

Barrier Free Environments, Inc., The Accessible Housing Design File, New York, Wiley, 1991, 224 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
The book provides accessible design solutions for parking, site design and entrances, doorways, windows, kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms.

Bayer, Ada-Helen, and Leon Harper, Fixing to Stay: A National Survey on Housing and Home Modification Issues, Washington, D.C., AARP, May 2000, 82 pages.
Web (to view text): or
This study examines housing and home modification issues among Americans age 45 and over, based on a survey of 2,000 midlife and older adults. More than 80 percent of respondents said they want to stay in their current home as long as possible. Of those able to make changes, 70% have made at least one modification to make their homes easier to live in.

Bogert, Samantha, “Stay-at-Home Solutions for Seniors,” Rehab Management, March 2008.
Web (to view text):
Article discusses accessibility modifications for seniors or people with disabilities who wish to remain living at home. Suggestions are offered for an older person with cognitive decline, and for a client with declining ability to ambulate due to ALS.

Bonneville, Lisa, The Safe Home: Designing for Safety in the Home, Washington, D.C., American Society of Interior Designers, 2007, 104 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This book outlines steps interior designers can take to design for clients’ home safety, including general safety as well as safety for seniors and individuals with disabilities. It contains schedules, worksheets, checklists, and a room-by-room home safety tour.

Broadwell, Bethany, “Finding the Perfect Used Accessible Home,” Quest, Vol. 15, No. 5 (September-October 2008), pp. 44-45.
Web (to view text):
This article offers advice for people with disabilities who are in the market for a home. Its topics include finding a realtor who is knowledgeable about accessible properties, incorporating disability-specific costs into financial estimates, and working with an occupational therapist or residential accessibility consultant to check into accessibility modifications that may become necessary.

Canning, John, “An Assistive Home,” Action Magazine, April 15, 2008.
Web (to view text):
This article describes simple devices that can be placed in a home to make it easier to get through the day with as little struggle as possible.

Consumer's Guide to Home Adaptation, Boston, Adaptive Environments [now the Institute for Human Centered Design], 2002.
Web (to purchase text):
The guide describes modifications to improve disability access in every area of the home. Illustrated worksheets highlight potential solutions. The guide includes suggestions on how to work with contractors and sketches of construction detail for common home adaptations. Although consumer-oriented, the guide can be helpful for any professional involved with home adaptations.

Davies, Thomas D., Jr., and Carol Peredo Lopez, Accessible Home Design: Architectural Solutions for the Wheelchair User, 2nd edition, Paralyzed Veterans of America, 2006, 148 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This book has chapters on entryways, residential elevators and lifts, kitchen design, bathrooms and toilets, plumbing fixtures, grab bars, doors, windows, and outdoor rooms and garden paths.

Davis, Marcie, “Accessibility,” Special Living Magazine, Summer 2008, pp. 38-47.
Web (to view text):
The author outlines the planning and building of a wheelchair-accessible home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Easy Living With Universal Design,” Manassas, Virginia, Prince William Area Agency on Aging, 24 pages.
Web (to view text):
This booklet offers guidance on modifying an existing home to fit every lifestyle and support aging in place.

Fannie Mae, A Home of Your Own Guide, Washington, D.C., no date.
Web (to view text):
This manual is designed to serve as a curriculum guide for housing educators and counselors who provide pre-purchase homebuyer education to prospective homeowners with disabilities. Chapter 3 discusses planning for accessibility modifications. It has been reissued by other organizations.

Fleishman, Sandra, “Adapting Your Home to Maximize Mobility,” Washington Post, February 18, 2006, page F01.
Web (to view text):
This article from the “Real Estate” section of the Washington Post discusses home adaptations to accommodate people with disabilities. Topics include common accessibility barriers and factors to consider when modifying an existing home.

Fleishman, Sarah, “Designing for the Future: As U.S. Population Ages, the Need Grows for Homes Accessible to People With Disabilities,” Washington Post, March 29, 2003, pages F01, F07-F08.
Web (to view text):
This article from the “Real Estate” section of the Washington Post describes the availability of accessible housing and the concept of visitability. The article discusses the difficulties faced by a couple trying to find accessible housing in the Washington, D.C. area after the husband developed multiple sclerosis, and discusses the results of an ordinance passed by Atlanta in 1992 to require a zero-step entrance in single-family homes built with city funding or city-administered state and Federal money.

“Gimme Shelter: Retiring Boomers Demand Livable Homes,” Modern Homes, March-April 2006, pages 12-18.
Web (to view text):
This article discusses universal design in manufactured and modular housing.

Herwig, Oliver. Universal Design: Solutions for a Barrier-Free Living, Basel and Boston, Birkhauser, 2008, 175 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This illustrated book presents the latest senior-friendly products and houses, providing designers and architects with the information they need to design products and living spaces for senior citizens.

ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003 Standard on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, Washington, D.C., International Code Council (ICC) & American National Standards Institute (ANSI), 2004, 128 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This standard has been adopted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A 2009 update is expected to be published in 2010.

Imrie, Rob, Accessible Housing: Quality, Disability and Design, London, Routledge, 2005, 264 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
The book examines the role of public policy in addressing the housing needs of people with disabilities and creating accessible and desirable home environments.

Johnson, Margo, Richard Duncan, Andrea Gabriel, and Michael Carter, “Home Modifications and Products for Safety and Ease of Use,” Raleigh, North Carolina, Center for Universal Design, copyright 1999, 21 pages.
Web (to view text):
This booklet suggests modifications and products beneficial to individuals with conditions affecting hearing, vision, sense of smell, sense of touch and dexterity, strength and range of motion, mobility and agility, balance and coordination, and cognition. Most of the suggestions address mild- to moderate level problems. For example, more suggestions apply to low vision than to total blindness, more to hearing impairment than to profound deafness.

Jordan, Wendy A., Universal Design for the Home: Great Looking, Great Living Design for All Ages, Abilities, and Circumstances, Beverly, Massachusetts, Quarry Books, 2008, 208 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This illustrated book discusses universal design, including general accessibility and comfort as well as handicap accessibility. It includes projects for small and large houses, one-story and multi-story houses, room arrangements, kitchens, baths, entries, and exterior areas. There is an emphasis on remodeled projects, but new homes designed with an eye toward present and future accessibility are included as well.

Kelly, Joseph Dennis, II, “Universal Design - Transparent, Inclusive, Attractive...and an Essential Consideration for Today’s Residential Designers,” ASID ICON, 2004.
Web (to view text):
Written from the viewpoint of an interior designer, this article on universal design focuses on reasons for following universal design principles.

Kochera, Andrew, Falls Among Older Persons and the Role of the Home: An Analysis of Cost, Incidence, and Potential Savings from Home Modification, AARP Research Report, AARP Public Policy Institute: Washington, D.C., March 2002, 14 pages.
Web (to view text): or
The author reviews the literature on the cost effectiveness of home modifications to reduce the incidence of falls among older adults.

Kochera, Andrew, Accessibility and Visitability Features in Single-Family Homes: A Review of State and Local Activity, Washington, D.C., AARP Public Policy Institute, March 2002, 36 pages.
Web (to view text): or
This paper reviews the methods used by state and local jurisdictions to promote accessibility features in new single-family homes, including builder requirements, tax or fee incentives to the consumer, and consumer awareness campaigns.

Lasoff, Susan, and Linda Lorentzen, The Accessible Home: Easy Ways to Improve the Safety, Practicality, and Value of Your Home, Fairview Press, 2003, 26 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
The Accessible Home is a pocket-sized booklet with simple tips on making homes safer and more accessible for older adults and people with physical disabilities.

Lawlor, Drue, and Michael Thomas, Residential Design for Aging in Place, New York, John Wiley & Sons, 2008, 236 pages.
Web (to purchase text):  
This book, written by two interior designers with aging clients, provides concepts, designs, and techniques for creating environments with limited physical barriers while avoiding an institutional appearance.

Lichter, Mark, “Visitability: A Growing Trend,” PN/Paraplegia News, May 2009.
Web (to view text):
The author discusses the concept of visitability, which seeks to provide all homes with the bare-minimum level of accessibility to a wheelchair user, including a zero-step entrance, widened interior doorways, and access to a bathroom.

Luscombe, Belinda, “This Bold House,” AARP Magazine, September-October 2003.
Web (to view text):
This article features the home of designer James Joseph Pirkl, known as the father of transgenerational design, that is, design for all ages and all abilities.

Mace, Ronald L., “Universal Design in Housing,” Assistive Technology, Volume 10, Number 1, pages 21-28, 1998.
Web (to view text):
This article examines the meaning of universal design in housing, and discusses the differences between barrier-free and accessible housing and universal design in housing. The author explains that since nothing can ever be truly universal, the real goal is to make things "more universal" or "more nearly universal." Universal design in housing is not assistive technology, and in fact may eliminate the need for some assistive technology while making other assistive technology more convenient. The article concludes with a detailed listing of some characteristics of universal design in various parts of the home.

Maichle, Patricia L., “Universal Design: A Sensible Way to Build and Buy Homes,” AT Messenger, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Summer 2004), pp. 2-3.
Web (to view text):
This article discusses efforts to further the development of universally designed homes by the Coalition for Universal Design in Delaware.

Maisel, Jordana L., Eleanor Smith, and Edward Steinfeld, Increasing Home Access: Designing for Visitability, Washington, D.C., AARP Public Policy Institute, 2008, 109 pages.
Web (to view text): or
The report discusses barriers to visitability implementation and opportunities for further acceptance of visitability design parameters in the construction of new homes.

“Makeover Tears House Down, Builds Another in a Week,” Special Living Magazine, Spring 2008, pp. 26-33.
Web (to view text):
A wheelchair-accessible home is constructed with the help of 700 volunteers for a segment on the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television program. Photos show every part of the house, from the open floor plan with hardwood floors to the accessible laundry room and the patio with a whirlpool spa.

Malloy, Robin Paul, “Inclusion by Design: Accessible Housing and the Mobility Impaired,” Hastings Law Journal, Volume 60, Number 4 (March 2009).
Web (to view text):
Professor Malloy calls for a national design standard requiring that single-family residential housing be accessible to the mobility impaired. The author questions the difference in inclusive-design requirements between public places and private homes, and suggests that the difference rests upon two misunderstandings: a failure to appreciate the public nature of private housing, as people with disabilities are often unable to visit friends and family members because their homes are designed with exclusionary features; and misperception concerning the inability of individuals to bargain for socially-optimal outcomes in the market for private homes.

Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc., These Four Walls... Americans 45+ Talk About Home and Community, Washington, D.C., AARP, May 2003, 121 pages.
Web (to view text):
This report on a survey of 2,001 Americans age 45 and over about their current housing situation, modifications made to enable older relatives to live comfortably in their home, and the perceived importance of specific home features and community services in their later years.

Moakley, Terry, “Affording Accessibility Home Modifications,” Action Magazine, March 27th, 2006.
Web (to view text):
This article discusses loans and grants available to help some people with spinal cord disabilities afford necessary changes to homes, including two programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development section and two programs administered by the HUD.

NAHB Research Center, Cost & Practicality of Home Modifications, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, 2001, 40 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This report summarizes a roundtable discussion on improving delivery of home modification services to older adults, held in Chicago in July 2001, with participants including remodelers, aging professionals, government representatives, and consumers.

NAHB Research Center, Directory of Accessible Building Products, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, [annual], 100 pages.
Web (to view text):
This annual directory contains descriptions of nearly 200 commercially available products designed for use by people with disabilities and age-related limitations, including products for the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and garage; doors and windows; heating and plumbing; home automation; and lifts, elevators, and ramps.

NAHB Research Center, Residential Remodeling and Universal Design: Making Homes More Comfortable and Accessible, Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1996, 127 pages.
Web (to view text):
This guide suggests products and designs for creating comfortable, functional home environments. The ideas are illustrated by line drawings with descriptive labels for major features. The guide was written by the National Association of Home Builders Research Center under contract to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Nichols, Dana, “This Friendly Old House,” Dialogue: A World of Ideas for Visually Impaired People of All Ages, Volume 45, Number 2 (March-April 2006), pages 57-59.
This article provides tips on minor adjustments that can make a home accessible to people with visual impairments.

Ohime, Jackie, “Protecting Your Home: Tips for Visually Impaired Home Owners,” Dialogue: A World of Ideas for Visually Impaired People of All Ages, Volume 46, Number 6 (November-December 2007), pages 46-51.
The article offers advice to the visually impaired on safeguarding their home from burglary, including appropriate home modifications.

Peters, Rick, Practical Improvements for Older Homeowners: Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Comfortable as You Age, New York, Sterling Publishers / Hearst, 2009, 192 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This guide explains how to make a house safe, easy to navigate, and conducive to independent living, for individuals as they get older. The book includes both do-it-yourself and professional remodeling projects, with detailed discussions of what the job entails, how long it should take, and what it typically costs.

Peterson, Mary Jo and Irma Dobkin, Gracious Spaces: Universal Interiors by Design, New York, McGraw-Hill Professional, 1999, 203 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This book provides guidance for architects, interior designers, builders, and others on creating accessible living spaces for seniors and people with disabilities.

 Products and Plans for Universal Homes, Tucson, Arizona, Home Planners / Hanley Wood, 2000, 128 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This book presents 51 universal home plans in a wide range of styles and sizes, along with information on over 1800 products from over 450 manufacturers.

Purpora, Megan, “Simple Remodeling for Tomorrow’s Needs – Cost-Effective Green Solutions for Your Home,” Reach Out Magazine, January-April 2009, pages 10-15.
Web (to view text):
The author discusses accessibility solutions for each part of the home that anticipate future needs and are environmentally friendly.

Rebholz, Jenny S., “Universal Design: A Commitment to Accommodate All,” ASID ICON, 2006-2007 ASID Industry Partner Directory and Product Guide, pages 34-38.
Web (to view text): or
This article describes the renovation of a home incorporating principles of universal design to allow its residents to age in place.

Regel, Dave, Beyond Barrier Free: Accessible Home Builders Knowledge Program, Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, Regel Accessible Products.
Web (to purchase text):
This DVD and manual contain step by step instructions for home builders on how to build in barrier free amenities, written by an author with 20 years experience designing and building barrier free homes.

Riley, Charles A., III, High Access Home: Design and Decoration for Barrier-Free Living, New York, Rizzoli International, 2003, 160 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This book discusses homes that incorporate the principles of universal design. It includes tours of top-of-the-line universal design homes, both new and revamped, as well as room-by-room examinations of universal design features.

Rossetti, Rosemarie, “A Living Laboratory,” PN/Paraplegia News, Vol. 62, No. 8 (August 2008), pp. 16-21.
Web (to view text):
The author, a women with SCI, describes the experiences that she and her husband had planning, designing, and building an accessible home following the principles of universal design. The building evolved into a showcase project, The Universal Design Living Laboratory, for which companies in the building industry have contributed accessible products and services.

Rossetti, Rosemarie, “Is Your Friend’s Home Visitable?” Action Magazine, January 24, 2008.
Web (to view text):
This article discusses the concept of visitability and offers guidance on how a wheelchair user can be accommodated when visiting a friend whose house is not fully visitable.

Rossetti, Rosemarie, “Planning a Basement Escape Route from in Your Home,” Action Magazine, September 4, 2007.
Web (to view text):
The article describes the ScapeWELA Window Well System from the Bilco Company as a basement egress route in case of fire for a wheelchair user.

Shuman, Kate, “Mobility Friendly Home,” Today's Caregiver, March/April 2005.
Web (to view text):
This article provides guidelines on how to make a home as accessible as possible for people with mobility disabilities.

Siegal, Ann Cameron, “A Home You Can Grow Old With,” Washington Post, February 21, 2009, p. F01.
Web (to view text):
The article describes home modifications that permit aging in place, including many specific strategies for life safety, fall prevention, and convenience.

Smith, Stanley K., Stefan Rayer, and Eleanor A. Smith, “Aging and Disability: Implications for the Housing Industry and Housing Policy in the United States,” Journal of the American Planning Association, Volume 74, Number 3 (Summer 2008), pages 289-306.
Web (to view text):
This article discusses implications for the U.S. building industry and housing policy of the increasing percentage of households with at least one resident with a physical limitation. The authors recommend that visitability features should be incorporated in new homes, and that social service agencies should inform elderly and/or disabled people about programs that help them make modifications to their current homes to allow aging in place.

Steven Winter Associates, Inc., A Basic Guide to Fair Housing Accessibility: Everything Architects and Builders Need to Know About the Fair Housing Act Accessibility Guidelines, New York, Wiley, 2001, 208 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
The book provides guidance for architects, builders, contractors, site engineers, and developers to ensure that their work is in conformance with Federal housing accessibility guidelines.

Taira, Ellen D., and Jodi L. Carlson, Aging in Place: Designing, Adapting, and Enhancing the Home Environment, New York, Routledge, 2000, 162 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
The authors examine current trends in adaptive home design and studies of elderly people’s environmental needs and preferences. As a guide for therapists, designers, and caregivers, the book describes home designs that provide a comfortable living environment for seniors while encouraging independence and dignity.

Turner, Margery Austin, Carla Herbig, Deborah Kaye, Julie Fenderson, and Diane Levy, Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities: Barriers At Every Step, Washington D.C., Urban Institute, June 2005, 123 pages.
Web (to view text):
This study examines discrimination against home seekers who use TTYs or wheelchairs. It identifies several categories of discrimination, including unequal access to information about available units and in the application process, fewer invitations for follow-up, and inaccessibility of advertised units.

Universal Design Ideas for Style, Comfort & Safety, Kingston, Massachusetts, RSMeans, 160 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This book on universal design is aimed at builders and remodelers. It includes expert guidance on kitchens, baths, bedrooms, family rooms, garages, yards and patios, lighting, and materials, with budget estimates for how much the projects will cost.

Wasch, William K., Home Planning for Your Later Years: New Designs, Living Options, Smart Decisions, How to Finance It, Middletown, Connecticut, William K. Wasch Associates, 1996, 181 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This step-by-step home assessment and planning guide for middle-aged and older adults includes practical and applied tips for evaluating housing needs after retirement.

Watkins, Natalea, “Universal Home Sweet Home,” New Mobility Magazine, April 2007.
Web (to view text):
The article provides detailed advice for individuals with disabilities on building an accessible home.

Williams, John M., “A New Way to Design Accessible Housing,” Action Magazine, November 10, 2008.
Web (to view text):
The author describes a system for building individualized accessible homes in which people with special needs tour a model home fitted with colored markers and determine the height, width and depth of the components of their individualized home by reaching out to the marker that best fits their needs.

Wylde, Margaret, Adrian Baron-Robbins, and Sam Clark, Building for a Lifetime: The Design and Construction of Fully Accessible Homes, Newtown, Connecticut, Taunton Press, 1994, 304 pages.
Web (to purchase text):
This book shows how to plan and build houses that can accommodate changes in the residents’ abilities over a lifetime, while remaining attractive and distinctive architectural creations.

Young, Leslie C., Ronald L. Mace, and Geoff Sifrin, Fair Housing Act Design Manual: A Manual to Assist Designers and Builders in Meeting the Accessibility Requirements of The Fair Housing Act, Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1998.
Web (to view text):
This manual provides guidance about ways to design and construct housing which complies with the Fair Housing Act Amendments. It includes a clear statement of HUD's interpretation of the accessibility requirements of the Act, along with non-binding recommendations on alternative accessibility approaches.


Aweh, Bryan M., and Joseph C. Mollendorf, “Lever-Operated Dishwasher Opener,” NSF 2005 Engineering Senior Design Projects to Aid Persons With Disabilities, Mansfield Center, Connecticut, Creative Learning Press, Inc., 2005, pages 130-131.
Web (to view text):
This paper describes a student engineering project to build a device to facilitate the opening of a dishwasher door by individuals with limited use of the hands. The lever-handled device is mounted onto the dishwasher with a hanger and suction cup. Cost of the project was $54.

Burton, Darren, “A Range of Opinions: A Survey on the Accessibility of Today's Home Appliances,” Access World, Vol. 7, No. 3 (May 2006).
Web (to view text):
This study examines the usability of appliances (dryer, stove, microwave, bread machine) for users with visual disabilities. The findings indicate that the more tactile and audible controls the appliances featured, the more usable they were.

Del Boccio, Ronda, “The White List: Choosing Blind-Friendly Appliances,” Dialogue: A World of Ideas for Visually Impaired People of All Ages, Vol. 46, No. 3 (May-June 2007), pp. 50-53.
The article discusses accessible appliances for users with visual impairments and ways to adapt models that are not accessible. It examines several types of appliances, including washers and dryers, microwave ovens, stoves and cooktops, and dishwashers.

Hodges, Brad, “Gone Shopping: An Update on the Accessibility of Kitchen Appliances,” Access World, Vol. 9, No. 5 (September 2008).
Web (to view text):
The author reviews major kitchen appliances from the point of view of accessibility to blind users, including dishwashers, stoves and ovens, and washers and dryers.

Hodges, Bradley, “Accessibility Wash: New, Usable Washers and Dryers Are Released,” Access World, Volume 8, Number 3 (May 2007).
Web (to view text):
This article reviews the Whirlpool Duet HT full-size washer and dryer and the Sears Kenmore High Efficiency (HE) 3 and HE5t washers and matching dryers with respect to their accessibility to users with visual disabilities.

Hodges, Brad, “Talking Turkey About Household Appliances and Consumer Electronics: Crisis for the Blind at the Big Box Store,” Braille Monitor, Vol. 47, No. 11, December 2004.
Web (to view text):
This article discusses the accessibility of cooktops, ovens, and ranges for blind users.

Kutsch, Jim, “Not at Home on the Range,” Access World, Volume 4, Number 4 (July 2003).
Web (to view text):
This article discusses the accessibility of electric ranges and cooktops to users who are blind or have low vision. The author finds that flat cooking surfaces and digital controls have left most cooktops and electric ranges inaccessible. Possible solutions are discussed.

Stango, Linda, “Workable Stoves and Ovens,” Action Magazine, November 15, 2007.
Web (to view text):
The author discusses selecting kitchen appliances for a wheelchair user, including stoves, microwaves, and conventional ovens.


Blaustone, Jan, “Bathroom Remodeling: A New Tub or Towel Rack Can Boost Accessibility and Value,” Quest, Volume 12, Number 2 (March-April 2005).
Web (to view text):
The article discusses home bathroom modifications that can improve accessibility and boost home value, including modification for bathtubs, showers, faucets, and commodes.

Davies, Thomas D., Jr., and Carol Peredo Lopez, “Bathtubs for Bathing?” PN/Paraplegia News, June 2001.
Web (to view text):
This article describes accommodations that can facilitate bathtub bathing or showering by wheelchair users.

Goldstein, Justin, Adam Krause, and T.M. Kaikobad, “Smart Shower,” in NSF 2005 Engineering Senior Design Projects to Aid Persons With Disabilities, Mansfield Center, Connecticut, Creative Learning Press, Inc., 2005, pages 198-199.
Web (to view text):
The authors describe a student engineering project to develop a shower device (the Smart Shower) enabling individuals to shower independently with the use of only one hand.

Peterson, Mary Jo, Universal Kitchen and Bathroom Planning: Design That Adapts to People, McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, 1998, 382 pages.
Web (to purchase book):
This book provides illustrated guidelines for incorporating universal design principles in kitchen and bathroom design.

Rossetti, Rosemarie, “Simple Steps to Make Your Bathroom Wheelchair Accessible,” Action Magazine, November 15, 2007.
Web (to view text):
The author describes how she modified her bathroom after becoming a wheelchair user following a spinal cord injury.

“Safe Showering,” TAD Journal, Volume 28, Number 2, July 2008, p. 4.
Web (to view text):
This article describes the custom adaptation of freestanding rails to function as a shower rail system.

Scott, Tom, “Home Safety for People with Disabilities,” Action Magazine, July 20, 2008.
Web (to view text):
The author discusses home modifications to reduce the risk of injuries, with a focus on stairways and ramps, bathrooms, and kitchen.

Sveistrup, Heidi, Donne Lockett, Nancy Edwards, and Faranak Aminzadeh, “Evaluation of Bath Grab Bar Placement for Older Adults,” Technology and Disability, Volume 18, Number 2 (2006), pages 45-55.
Web (to purchase text):
This study compares patterns of use, perceived usefulness, and perceived safety of five different configurations of bathtub grab bars, based on observation and surveys of 103 community-dwelling seniors living in Canada.

Weinstein, Lawrence, “Easy in, Easy Out – Walk in Bathtubs,” Qualified Remodeler, May 2007.
Web (to view text):
This article on walk-in bathtubs is a sequel to October 2006 article listed below.

Weinstein, Lawrence, “Easy In … Easy Out!” Qualified Remodeler, October 2006.
Web (to view text):
This author discusses his experience selecting among available walk-in bathtubs.


Lopez, Carol Peredo, Tom Davies, and Mark H. Lichter, “All About Doors,” PN/ Paraplegia News, Vol. 57, No. 8 (August 2003), pp. 39-43.
Web (to view text):
The article discusses characteristics of doors accessible to people with disabilities. It recommends that doors should be capable of being opened in a single motion, should have lever handles set approximately three feet above the floor, and should be equipped with kick plates to protect against damage from wheelchairs.

Tannenbaum, Andrea, “Around the House: Opening Doors,” PN/Paraplegia News, Vol. 56, No. 7 (July 2002), p. 43.
Web (to view text):
This article describes seven products to help individuals with physical disabilities to get through doors, including lever handles, door knob grips, offset hinges, and threshold ramps.

Environmental Controls

Chen, Weoi-Luen, Ay-Hwa Andy Liou, Shih-Ching Chen, Chi-Ming Chung, Yu-Luen Chen, and Ying-Ying Shih, “A Novel Home Appliance Control System for People With Disabilities,” Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, Volume 2, Number 4 (January 1, 2007), pages 201-206.
Web (to purchase text):
The authors describe a prototype home appliance control system for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) or tetraplegia that uses an infrared remote module fastened to eyeglasses.

Havens, Robert, “Technology Makes 24-Hour Assistance Unnecessary,” Occupational Therapy Now, January 2005.
Web (to view text):
A wheelchair user with minimal use of his limbs describes how he leads an independent life with the aid of environmental control devices, despite having been told that his medical condition required 24-hour supervision.

Mann, William C., Patricia Belchoir, Machiko R. Tomita, and Bryan J. Kemp, “Older Adults' Perception and Use of PDAs, Home Automation System, and Home Health Monitoring System,” Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, Vol. 23, No. 1 (January-March 2007), pp. 35-46.
Web (to purchase text):;jsessionid=JvRVQvhMJLlJVDtsMnX1vhPmwnnyk6wxQ7nK5BynfQMrN6YCrKnL!928310026!181195629!8091!-1.
This study examines older adults’ perceptions of three assistive technology devices that have the potential to enhance safety and independence in the home, including reasons for not using the devices, based on a survey of 673 older adults with chronic physical disabilities.


“Surfaces,” Agrability Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 3 (January 2003).
Web (to view text):
This article discusses floors and other surfaces in a farmstead, both inside and outside, and ways to avoid slips and falls.

Houses / House Plans

Schwab, Charles M., Universal Designed Smart Homes for the 21st Century: 102 Home Plans You Can Order and Build, 3rd edition, Bettendorf, Iowa, Schwab Publishers, 2007.
Web (to purchase text):
The book includes 102 house plans based on universal design principles. Many models are less than 2,000 square feet and are designed for narrow urban lots or retirement communities. The remaining homes are largely less than 4,000 square feet. Home types include in-law additions, empty nester, single family, and duplex.

Weinstein, Laurence, “The World of ‘Off-site’ Homes,” PN/Paraplegia News, December 2007.
Web (to view text):
An architect with SCI discusses accessible modular homes.


Del Boccio, Ronda, “Setting Up the Low Vision Kitchen,” Dialogue: A World of Ideas for Visually Impaired People of All Ages, Vol. 45, No. 1 (January-February 2006), pp. 64-67.
Web (to view text):
This article provides suggestions for making kitchen appliances and tools accessible to a user with low vision.

Peterson, Mary Jo, Universal Kitchens and Bathroom Planning: Design That Adapts to People, McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, 1998, 382 pages.
Web (to purchase book):
This book provides illustrated guidelines for incorporating universal design principles in kitchen and bathroom design.

Rossetti, Rosemarie, “Simple Steps to Modify Your Kitchen for Wheelchair Accessibility,” Action Magazine, October 11, 2007.
Web (to view text):
The author describes how she modified her kitchen after becoming a wheelchair user following a spinal cord injury.

Scott, Tom, “Home Safety for People with Disabilities,” Action Magazine, July 20, 2008.
Web (to view text):
The author discusses home modifications to reduce the risk of injuries, with a focus on stairways and ramps, bathrooms, and kitchen.


Figueiro,  Mariana Gross, Lighting the Way: A Key to Independence, Troy, New York, Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2001, 28 pages.
Web (to view text):
This publication answers common questions about vision and lighting posed by older adults, and offers practical solutions to help older adults, their families, and their caregivers to light their home for more effective and comfortable vision.

Kitchel, Elaine, “Lighting and Low Vision: A Perspective,” Vision Access, Volume 15, Number 3 (Fall 2008), pages 46-48.
Web (to view text):
The author discusses lighting techniques to minimize glare for individuals with low vision.

Pitch, M., and C. Bridge, “Lighting Your Way Into Home Modifications,” in Promoting Independence for Older Persons With Disabilities: Selected Papers from the 2006 International Conference on Aging, Disability, and Independence, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 181-191.
Web (to purchase text):
This paper reviews the research literature on lighting for people with low vision and its implications for home modifications

Takeshita, Bill, “Choosing Lighting that Works for Your Vision,” Vision Access, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Winter 2008), pp. 39-49.
Web (to view text):
Web (to listen to audio):
The article discusses available types of indoor lighting (incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs, low-voltage halogen bulbs, and LEDs) in relation to the varying needs of people with different types of low vision, including corneal disease, cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.


Rossetti, Rosemarie, “Modify Your Laundry Room for Wheelchair Accessibility,” Action Magazine, December 19th, 2007.
Web (to view text):
The author, a wheelchair user, describes her experience while making a laundry room accessible, including modifications to the floor layout and appliance selection.

Vertical Accessibility

“Residential Elevators,” PN/Paraplegia News, Volume 55, Issue 4 (April 2001).
Web (to view text):
This article discusses what a wheelchair user can do to survive a power outage in a residential elevator

Blaustone, Jan, “Taking It to the Next Level: A Home Ramp Primer,” Quest, Volume 15, Number 5 (September-October 2008), pages 48-50.
Web (to view text):
Article on home entrance ramps for wheelchair access, including safety requirements, materials, modular and permanent ramps, sources of information, and points to consider before deciding on a ramp design.

Boykins, Maryia A., “Lift Away Your Fear of Stairs,” PN/Paraplegia News, Volume 62, Number 12 (December 2008), pages 61-62.
The article provides an overview of stair lifts for people with mobility impairments, including power sources, lift configurations, safety features, and control options.

Crase, Nancy, “The Ups and Downs of Elevators,” PN/Paraplegia News, Volume 56, Issue 4 (April 2002).
Web (to view text):
The second of a two-part series, this article describes the challenges of, and solutions to, installing an elevator in a home belonging to an individual with paraplegia. Topics include issue related to choosing the location of the elevator shaft and motor. The first article in this series appeared in the June 2001 issue of PN/Paraplegia News.

Crase, Nancy, “What's Up With Elevators? (Part 1),” PN/Paraplegia News, Volume 55, Issue 6 (June 2001).
Web (to view text):
This article describes the process of installing an elevator in the 100-year-old family home of a man with spinal cord injury, enabling the man to access the second floor of the house.

Scarpace, Anthony J., and Joseph C. Mollendorf, “Stair to Ramp Conversion Kit,” NSF 2006 Engineering Senior Design Projects to Aid Persons With Disabilities, Mansfield Center, Connecticut, Creative Learning Press, Inc., 2007, pages 162-163.
Web (to view text):,SUNY%20Buffalo.pdf.
This paper describes a student engineering project to design a stair-to-ramp conversion kit allowing the conversion of any set of stairs into a switch-operable wheelchair ramp.

Scott, Tom, “Home Safety for People with Disabilities,” Action Magazine, July 20, 2008.
Web (to view text):
The author discusses home modifications to reduce the risk of injuries, with a focus on stairways and ramps, bathrooms, and kitchen.

This Informed Consumer's Guide was written by Katherine A. Belknap and David G. Johnson and produced by AbleData. AbleData is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the U.S. Department of Education under contract number ED-04-CO-0018/0007 and is operated by ICF Macro.

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