Accessible environments are essential for people with disabilities. They help people live independently in their home and allow them to access public facilities and services like government buildings, shops, transport and recreation areas. It is important that environments follow recommended guidelines and that people with disabilities are involved in the design process.
For public spaces it is important to follow established universal design guidelines that ensure that the environment is accessible for everyone. For example, buildings should have suitable ramps and/or lifts to ensure complete access, bathrooms should have grab rails, lowered sinks and be large enough to allow wheelchairs and other assistive devices to move freely and easily.
The government of Nepal has endorsed mandatory provisions for making public spaces accessible for people with disabilities. Links to these guidelines are available on our resources page. These guidelines should be followed when designing and constructing any public spaces.
While the above guidelines can also be useful when designing accessible private spaces it is important to consider the individual needs and preferences of the person the space is for. Custom designed and built equipment can be far more practical in helping people to live more independently. Some examples are given below.
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Accessible Kitchen / Stove
One example of a purpose designed / built accessible space is an accessible stove. In the example shown an existing kitchen is adapted to be more accessible. The table is lowered so that the master chef is able to easily reach the stove while staying in their wheelchair. This allows them to cook their own food without the support of others. It also allows them to cook for their guests!
If designing an entirely new kitchen it would also be beneficial to consider the height of the cupboards, bench tops and sink as well as how easily a wheelchair is able to move around.
Another example of making a space more accessible is adding a ramp to allow easy wheelchair access to a building. In this example a step is replaced with a ramp. This allows wheelchair users to easily and independently enter and leave the store and to do their own shopping.
This ramp was built in consultation with and under the supervision of wheelchair users to ensure that it was designed and constructed appropriately. The ramp is not too steep and is colored to make it more visible.
These are only two examples of how a private space can be made more accessible. There are many other adjustments that existing homes might require. For example, changes to the bathroom, toilet and shower, changes to a bedroom or living room or changes to doors and other entryways. Always consider the requirements of the individual when determining what adjustments are required. These considerations can also be applied to newly designed / built spaces as well.
When designing and constructing any accessible environment or equipment it is important to consider the strength and durability of the design as well as the equipment and materials used. You should consider using local, sustainable and renewable materials and construction methods when available and appropriate.