To those individuals that move with the aid of a wheelchair, accessibility means having the ability to move freely throughout the home without obstacles such as steps or narrow doorways. Older homes were not constructed with this type of accessibility in mind, and must be modified in order to accommodate the needs of the disabled resident.
Recommended Door Width for Wheelchair Access
Most wheelchairs measure 24 to 27 inches wide from wheel to wheel. In order for a wheelchair to be operated and move freely through a door, the doorway should be at least 32 inches in width. If the doorway is located in a hallway, and requires that the wheelchair be turned to pass through it, the door should measure at least 36 inches wide. If you receive funds from the Specially Adapted Housing Grant, doors must be at least 32 inches wide and hallways must be at least 42 inches wide to comply with the requirements of the grant.
If you choose to have the doorway resized, you'll need to relocate light switches and electrical sockets. You'll want to make certain that there is at least 2 feet of clear floor space on the side of the door that pulls in. The use of swing-away hinges and expandable doors can increase door width by at least 2 inches.
New Construction and Wheelchair Access
In new construction, most builders recommend door width of 32 inches to 36 inches and a hallway width of 46 inches for design purposes, comfort, and ease of mobility. For those individuals who receive funds from the Specially Adapted Housing Grant, new construction must include 36-inch doorways and 48-inch hallways.