Accessible Laundry Rooms

Lucile Guidry, Attaway, Denise  |  4/14/2009 5:41:33 AM

Entry into and out of a laundry room needs to be wide enough to allow for the individual using the workspace, any assistive devices such as wheelchairs, as well as any additional items that will need to be transferred through the passage.

Ideal whole home access plans include safe access for service rooms, including the laundry room. Laundry room design includes many of the same challenges encountered when planning any other significant hazard area considerations such as: water, heat, electricity and mechanical devices in addition to the space considerations for safe access and functionality.

A good rule of thumb is to remember to not "crowd" the workspace. When designing a laundry room, it is a good idea to:

  1. Prioritize the fixtures and mechanical devices based on functional need (washer and dryer are important—soaking sink is helpful, but not vital).
  2. Determine the dimensions of objects needed, including any necessary air circulation space.
  3. Ensure there is adequate space to maneuver (using any assistive devices) within the completed unfurnished workspace.

Entry into and out of the workspace, as in any other accessible passage, will need to be wide enough to allow for the individual using the workspace, any assistive devices, as well as any additional items that will need to be transferred through the passage.

Storage and access for laundry and other products will need to conform to the reach and safe usage consistent with the needs of the users. For instance, for a family member with limited reach (someone confined to a wheelchair, unsteady on their feet, very short in stature, and so on) shelves, racks and cabinets need to be positioned lower to the ground and be shallower to accommodate for any physical and/or functional restrictions.

Similarly, cleaning supplies: rags, brooms, brushes, sponges, solutions, etc need to be easily accessible. Appropriate safety equipment such as smoke, radon, carbon monoxide detectors, alarm "panic buttons," and fire extinguishers are among the types of personal safety and functional options to consider installing.

An accessible home incorporates adaptation and accommodation preparations and installations in living and work areas that can make a dwelling safe and functional to the residents for a lifetime. With decreased personal functionality and diminished access to and within one’s home becoming the most frequently cited reason for relocation to assisted living facilities and nursing homes. This loss of independence is often one of the most severe lows to one’s self-esteem. Making a home more accessible for life is a good investment on every level.

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