When you have a disability, life can be incredibly challenging at times. Nobody wants to, or should have to struggle but this is a reality for millions of people.
One such problem comes when trying to access a door; opening the door and getting through it can be problematic for many people but the good news is that using an assistive door device could make life much easier.
Best Door Access Devices for Improved Home Accessibility
Assistive devices for door access come in many forms and depending on your disability, there may be a simple or more complex solution. The following are all viable methods for using doors more easily:
1. Automatic Door Opener
As its name may suggest, an automatic door opener is a device that will open a door automatically, removing any manual strain on the user. These devices use either an electric or pneumatic function and can be fitted to an existing door in both residential and commercial properties, making them incredibly diverse.
The automatic door opener can be operated in several ways making them ideal for a variety of disabled users. For those with very limited abilities, these door openers may come with sensors that will automatically open the door as soon as an approach is made. Alternatively, if the user has good hand function, they may be able to make use of either a push button or a remote control.
While this option is one of the more expensive, the automatic door opener has many features that make it ideal for use in the permanent home of a less able-bodied person. For example, they usually come with the option to change the speed as well as many being fitted with a timer so if you require the door to be open for a longer time, this won’t be an issue. In addition, they are incredibly safe to use since most are fitted with sensors to detect obstructions and will continue to open until this is moved.
While there are many examples of this type of door opener on the market, the most sophisticated devices such as the one shown below offer wireless push button control, obstacle sensing, and a hand control to adjust the settings.
2. Expandable Offset Door Hinges to Make a Doorway Wider
In some homes, the doorways can be very narrow and this prevents wheelchair or mobility scooters from being able to comfortably pass through. This can be very limiting but a viable solution comes in the form of making the doorway wider. By doing this, the person living with a disability will gain much more freedom and independence in their own home.
One of the most obvious options would be to hire someone to extend the doorway but this will require heavy construction work and will likely work out to be very costly. However, there is a more affordable and much more convenient solution; an offset door hinge. Where a traditional hinge sits inside the door frame with the door sitting inside the jamb, the offset hinge is larger and allows the door to be placed outside of the jamb while open, therefore, increasing the usable width of the door. However, it is important to keep in mind that this method is only suitable if you require between 1-1.5 inches of additional room.
When choosing this option, you will need to make sure that you select offset hinges that are durable and offer excellent stability to the door, such as these brass hinges by Mars Wellness.
3. Fit a Door Knob Grip
For people who struggle with strength or grip issues, working with a circular door knob can be a very trying experience. However, since a lot of homes are fitted with this type of door opening, there needs to be a solution. While it would be possible to replace all of the door knobs with handles, this might be an expensive option.
An excellent alternative would be to use a door knob grip. These are small, very inexpensive items made from rubber or plastic and fit over the existing knob. They also feature two small parts at either side which jut out and allow the user to turn the knob using just one finger pressing down. This can make accessing doors for people with limited hand function much simpler and can bring about new independence.
There are many products out there that have additional features to make them even more convenient. One such example is the Able Life EZ door knob grip that has an opening for the keyhole as well as being glow in the dark so the user can more easily find their way to the door during darkness.
4. Arthritis Key Turner
According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), more than 24 million Americans struggle with arthritis and this debilitating condition can cause a wealth of problems. One of the most significant issues is that the use of the hands deteriorates and this can result in the person not being able to complete otherwise simple tasks like turning a key in a lock.
In order to live an independent life, those with arthritis must be able to manage day to day things like securing the house. A key turner is a small device that fits over the top of a key, allowing the user to get a better grip. This is a result of a much larger surface area as well as a textured grip.
Made with comfortable gel pads and steel hinges, products like the Keywing key turner allow those with arthritis to use their key freely. What’s more, these devices often come in bright colors so if the user also has vision problems, they will be more easily able to find their keys
5. Fit a T-Pull to Make Closing a Door Easier
While getting through the door can prove to be challenging for those with disabilities and mobility issues, closing the door can be just as problematic. In many cases, a wheelchair user would have to extend their reach just to close the door. Not only can this be frustrating and make the job more difficult but it can also put unnecessary strain on the muscles.
While there are a lot of highly technologically advanced assistive aids out there, the T-pull is one that is far simpler yet just as innovative. These small devices fit to the door offering an extended handle that is far easier to reach. For many of us, closing the door is a simple task but when you have a disability, it can be an undignified situation but with something as simple as a T-pull, disabled users can close a door with dignity and moreover, comfort.
T-Pull offers this easy to use door closing device that is durable and can be used on both internal and external doors. It is simple to install and made from plastic, giving it a comfortable feel on the hands.
6. Install a Portable Threshold Ramp
Bringing a wheelchair through an external door can quickly become very challenging. Even if there is a very small lip at the base of the door, this can be impossible for wheelchair users to get over. Even if they were to attempt this, there is the risk of the wheelchair tipping over and injury occurring.
An excellent solution to this problem is to install a portable threshold ramp which allows the user to enter the door regardless of any small obstacles like steps or raised door frame sills. These devices are foldable and lightweight meaning that they can be taken anywhere, freeing up access wherever you go.
These small wedge-shaped ramps can be placed in the doorway giving the wheelchair or mobility scooter user a stable and smooth surface to safely move through the door. While they come in a range of designs, we think that this one from EZ-Access offers the most simple yet effective solution. It is made from rubber and offers a slip-resistant surface suitable for a rise of up to five inches.
If you have ever found that accessing doorways when you are at work, shopping, socializing, or running errands to be difficult; this could be a life changing solution.
7. Use a Lever Handle Instead of a Round Door Knob
Earlier, we discussed using a door knob grip to make opening doors simpler. While this is a viable option, some people prefer to install a different type of handle that can be more easily operated.
A lever handle is often preferred by disabled users with limited hand function as it is generally a lot easier to grip. Furthermore, if the user has very significant hand function issues, these handles can be opened using the elbow. Doing this will reduce the strain on the user as well as reducing any pain they may feel when attempting to grip a door knob.
While there are many options available and most are simple to install, it is also important to think about aesthetics. If you are installing lever handles in the home, we would assume that you would be looking for something that will blend in with your decor. These simple yet chic door lever handles offer excellent build quality, durability, and are reversible to suit both right and left-handed users.
8. Use a Doorknob Extender
If you want to continue to use your door knobs and do not like the idea of a rubber grip, there is also the option to extend the knob making it into a lever. This is excellent for people with limited dexterity and is an affordable option.
Installing this type of equipment is very simple since the extender is fitted using a series of screws. They will usually come with a hole cut out of the center, allowing the user to access the keyhole, much like this product by Maddak Ableware. Not only does this device offer everything you will need to be able to independently open doors without straining your hands, but it also comes with a one-year warranty.
9. Install a Garage Door Opener
While many disabled people find it difficult to walk or get around, many of them are still able to drive. This offers freedom and independence but one major problem occurs when it comes to getting the car in and out of the garage.
But this should not be a reason for disabled drivers to stop using their vehicle. A garage door opener is a wirelessly controlled device that is attached to the garage door and will open and close at the touch of a button. Most of the modern devices, such as the Genie StealthDrive Connect, can be operated using a smartphone so the user does not have to get out of their car.
This device and many others like it feature voice control and will work with some of the most modern systems like Google Home and Alexa. They offer a backup battery so that, in the case of a power outage, you can still use the device as well as easy installation.
10. Fit a Ring Doorbell
When you are living with mobility issues, the simple act of answering the door can be very challenging. What’s more, if you aren’t sure who is calling, there may be concerns for your safety. However, with the ability to see who is at the door without having to leave your seat, these problems are eradicated.
The Ring Doorbell is one of the most popular and effective systems that offer smartphone notifications when someone is at the door. There is a video link so you can see who is there as well as a two way microphone for communication.
If you see that it is a salesperson, or someone you don’t know or aren’t expecting, you don’t need to compromise your safety by opening the door. However, if the video shows a friend or family member, you can communicate with them, perhaps telling them where the spare key is to let themselves in.
One of the best aspects about this device is that it improves your safety and peace of mind. However, it will also limit the number of trips you have to take to the door, reducing fatigue on people with already weakened bodies. What’s more, the doorbell works with your Alexa devices so you can operate everything with voice control.
11. Use a Smart Lock for Keyless Entry
While some people may benefit from using a key grip, others may find that this still presents a challenge. Using a smart lock system allows you to secure the door without the need for a key, and when you want to get back inside, you won’t need to struggle with gripping a small key.
These devices typically work with your smartphone or tablet and depending on the model, may be compatible with your Alexa devices, like the Schlage Encode. Anyone who has impaired fine motor skills or problems with grip would find this to be a worthwhile solution.
Many people fear that these kinds of devices compromise their security and that other people could easily access the door. However, they typically come with security features such as access codes and restrictions on entry. For example, you may alter the settings so that the access code only works at certain times of day. This can be useful for visiting friends and family members as well as for caregivers.