You might not put a great deal of thought into designing and choosing your doorknobs -- after all, they're just there to open the door -- but an ordinary and entirely innocuous door handle can be a more difficult obstacle to navigate. People who use wheelchairs, suffer from poor vision or have limited mobility and/or strength in their upper body are just some of the disabled users who may find standard door handles difficult to use.
Fortunately, there are a wide array of door handle types which are much more accommodating to disabled people, and if you choose to have custom doorknobs created from your home or business they can be specially adapted for ease of use. When fitting door handles with disabled accessibility in mind, keep the following guidelines in mind:
Door handles for wheelchair users
The main issue preventing wheelchair users from using conventional door handles is one of height, so a door handle accessible to wheelchair users should be fitted at a lower height than usual. At the same time, you don't want to make your door handle too uncomfortable to use for able-bodied people -- for this reason, extended pull bars are often fitted. These simple handles are long and fitted vertically to the door, providing easy grip at both standing and sitting height.
However, if you choose extended pull bars for a door, you should avoid the cheapest options where the handle sits flush against the door. These can form a nasty finger trap, especially if the door is used by wheelchair-bound users and able-bodied users at the same time. As such, pull handles should rotate outwards to face the edges of the door frame (most achieve this with a simple 90 degree turn) which prevents fingers from getting trapped between handles, particularly when fitted to double doors.
Door handles for people with limited vision
While a blind or sight-impaired person may have little trouble operating a conventional door handle, finding it in the first place can be the challenging parts. Door handles intended for use by the visually impaired should therefore be made in highly contrasting colours. This enables even severely visually impaired people to locate the handle due to its contrast with the surrounding material of the door.
However, high-contrast handles aren't much help to profoundly blind people. To aid these people, consider having extra large handles with textured grips installed, allowing a blind person to quickly determine when they have grasped the door handle.
Door handles for people with limited upper body strength and mobility
If you suffer from an illness that affects the joints, muscles and/or nerves upper body and deprives you of strength and co-ordination, you will know how difficult finding the grip strength to turn a simple door knob can be. To get around this problem, many people with these illnesses and disabilities (particularly people suffering from arthritis and other joint conditions) choose to have adapters fitted to door knobs and handles.
These adapters are generally made of easy-grip plastic, and are slotted over the knob or handle to provide a larger, more easily grasped surface area. If you don't like the way these adapters look, you can also have door knobs and handles manufactured to have large, grippable surfaces. If you choose this option, keep suitable handle materials in mind - even the largest doorknob can still be slippery if it is made from metal, so consider wooden or plastic alternatives.Share
1 March 2017
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