Accessibility Checklist

As we age certain normal age-related changes take place that can often make it difficult for us to remain in our homes. These normal aging changes affect not only our five senses, but also our mobility and strength.  While a handful of houses being built today take into account changing needs, the majority of people still live in houses that they must adapt to. However there are some things that can be done do to change a house so that it can accommodate changing needs of the resident. Some are simple, such as installing a lever door handle and others are more complex and costly, such as adding a bathroom to the first floor.  The following suggestions are just a few of the many things you can do.

Door Handles and Doorways

  • Door locks that are easy to operate, keyless locks with a remote control or keypad
  • Lever style door handles vs. round ball type handles
  • Doorways that are 36 inches wide (if making the doorway wider is not an option, clear swing hinges can help you gain a couple of inches)

Kitchens and Laundry

  • Easy access to kitchen storage; pull out shelves, lazy susans in corners
  • Appliances with controls that are large, easy to read and ones that have large push pads
  • Microwave placed on counter, never above stove
  • A side-by-side refrigerator/freezer combination gives the user easy access
  • Stove with controls in the front
  • Good lighting over stove, sink and other work areas, under cabinet lighting
  • Raised dishwasher and oven
  • Lowered kitchen cabinets and adjustable shelves in closets
  • Spring-loaded switch for the garbage disposal, so that it must be held in the on position to operate
  • Increase overall illumination; good lighting over stove, sink and other work areas, under cabinet lighting
  • Laundry on main floor, front loading washer and dryer


  • Use anti-scald faucets (sometimes called even flow) to make water temperatures even
  • Turn water temperature down to 120 degrees
  • Use single lever faucets in sinks, tubs, and showers
  • Adjustable-height, handheld showerhead
  • Reinforced grab bars in the bath and shower and reinforced walls to allow grab bars near the toilet
  • Accessible toilet; the seat is higher than regular toilet seat
  • Telephone jack in the bathroom and one near the bed


  • Use fluorescent lighting to spread light evenly and minimize glare
  • Light switches that are easy to reach and can be turned on before you enter the room or lights that come on when you enter the room
  • Lighted switch plates
  • Well lit stairways with a light switch at the top and one at the bottom
  • Use colors that contrast (never use blue and green together)

Equipment; Phones, Alarms, Televisions, and Stereos

  • Phones with large numbers; some phones have pictures of the person that you are calling
  • Doorbells, smoke alarms, and telephones that blink and sound simultaneously giving 2 signals or cues (double cueing)
  • Purchase stereos and televisions where the bass can be turned up and the treble down (people lose the ability to hear higher frequency sounds)

Flooring and Stairs

  • Use of sheet vinyl or low pile carpeting on floors
  • Anti-slip strips on the front edge of steps in a contrasting material
  • Eliminate throw rugs, open risers on stairs and stairs that have nosings
  • Anti-slip strips on the front edge of steps in a contrasting material
  • Sturdy handrails on both sides of stairs
  • Eliminate thresholds or minimize them by adding a piece to the threshold so that the foot will glide over it