Accessibility Guides: An Overview Of Modern Options And Tips For The Home

Future-proof building, is called barrier-free building. Who has the chance to build a home or to renovate an existing House, which benefited in later years greatly, if it’s inherently optimized to the needs of elderly and disabled people. Statistically speaking, the proportion increases dramatically the over 65 in the next few decades. In Germany there was off end of 2013 approximately 17 million people 65 years. According to the Federal Statistical Office, every third German has exceeded the senior age of 65 by the year 2060.

Therefore, it is today more important than ever to make the home as barrier-free as possible. This guide gives an overview of the current guidelines for accessibility for barrier-free construction or conversion of private residential environments.

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Info graphic source:

What does accessibility mean?

The term of accessibility is considered ideal conceptions. An ideal that is probably never quite reached in connection with the living. Nothing is really 100% without barriers. There are always little things that might prove to be barriers.

Basically, it comes to make life within your own four walls as easy as possible for elderly and disabled people. The term might be “accessible” even a little true, however the word accessibility is firmly anchored in the parlance. The aim is that people can use housing as far as possible without outside help. What is good for elderly and physically restricted, this helps but also such as the very young. Finally, small children are mostly yet not too coordinated or fixed on the legs.

Floor-level showers are a good example. Many children have difficulty with the pure and out climbing here.

A floor-level shower is not only much safer, but also more comfortable for full people

Bathroom shower

Also many more modern bathrooms are designed so that they are not accessible. For age-friendly accommodation is to ensure, as far as possible on the ground floor to install the shower tray.

set up decorating tips bathroom Bathroom Design

A floor-level shower is not only much safer, but also more comfortable for full people

Basic information: who needs accessibility?

The floor-level shower is an example that not only physically restricted people benefit from a barrier-free shower. Basically, all people benefit from it. Temporary injuries can affect a person in the short term so that he, for example, no longer can stand up without grab bars by the toilet, for example, because he’s wearing a cast on the leg for six weeks. Such barrier-free features make it easier to not only everyday. You can also significantly contribute to enhancing the value of a property.

Accessibility increases the value of real estate

When homeowners build barrier-free or renovate, they lay the foundations for themselves and their tenants to be able to live for many years in the real estate. If owners want to rent later, they have a clear competitive advantage with a barrier-free real estate. Extensive renovations are then may not be necessary. You can also get also higher rents.

Free advisory services help you plan

A barrier-free real estate is a good idea in many ways. However, is to go with careful planning. There are advice centres, which give suggestions and tips for the rehabilitation after aid support, search and sift also plans to help avoid planning mistakes in Germany. The Federal working group housing adjustment e. V. offers a comprehensive, structured by State list with many information centres throughout Germany.

Statutory regulations for accessibility in private households

The legislature has issued already binding guidelines for barrier-free design of living spaces. These are written down in DIN 18040-2, the which those interested can download on

DIN 18040-2 applies to the barrier-free planning, design and equipment of apartments, buildings with apartments and their grounds, which serve the development and use of housing-related. The requirements to the infrastructure of the buildings with apartments take into account also the unrestricted use with the wheelchair. Inside of apartments are distinguished usable apartments and – rentals usable accessible and fully with the wheelchair – barrier-free. (Source: Beuth-Verlag)

The following requirements and guidelines relate generally to DIN 18040-2.


Herd that can be ride is suitable for wheelchair users. So, the entire stove range is available. Fotolia 74287914 Jenny storm

The most important changes depending on the living room

The possibilities to create rooms “barrieärmer”, are quite extensive. In addition to an associated increase in comfort, barrier-free building, which is to settle in the ambient assisted living, the living room makes safer at the same time. So, residents of barrier-free apartments to can be reminded after cooking, turn off the stove, or before entering a room, to enlighten them. Also tripping hazards can be eliminated and not least door cameras or motion increase the protection against burglars. Finally, barrier-free building is so not just interesting for the elderly, but can represent an asset in every stage of life. Possible measures for the realization of accessibility include:

Stove guard
Motion detector
Access controls for apartments
Base leistenkanaele
Venetian blind control systems
Temperature control
Scannable switch

In the following, the individual living spaces are represented with the necessary requirements and the possible implementations.

Decorating tips – kitchen

The kitchen is not only for cooking. Often, it is also a place to eat together or just to talk. But its main function as a place where older or restricted people prepare their food, the barrier-free implementation should take account of at least the following guidelines.

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It needs space for a wheelchair. Therefore, the kitchen should ideally offer a movement area of at least 150 cm from furniture and walls. Also 120 cm range without wheelchair.
Sink, appliances and countertops are installed at a height of 82-85 cm. This ensures that all surfaces of the seat position can be reached.

The height of cabinets, countertops, Cooktops and sinks can be ideally electrically or easily adjusted by hand.
All work surfaces and cooking zones must be accessible. This is according to that any surface can be used completely.
If however cabinets are used, these are best from role. So, they can sometimes push themselves away.
Electrical equipment stand or hang at a height that allows good access.
Switches and socket outlets are located underneath the worktop. So a hood can be operated for example, au its position below the work surface.
The flooring is suitable for a wheelchair. It is also protected against electrostatic discharges. Here the use of anti-static floor coverings is recommended. Rubber flooring and linoleum are antistatic due to their material-specific properties. All kinds of anti-static flooring to be laid but according to de with a non-conductive adhesive to stay antistatic. The Hessian Ministry of Economics, sets more numbers, and values with regard to the design of barrier-free rooms Transport and regional development in his paper “barrier-free – universal building” dar.

Disabled Enge right bath ImageArchivist demo

A bathroom with tilting mirrors, ground-level shower and ample support on the toilet. Fotolia 83126647 / Jörg Lantelme

Bathroom and WC

Around 80% of all household accidents are falls and most falls happen in the bathroom. Therefore, it is especially in security mechanisms to invest. Barrier-free bathroom meet this criterion – and more. Therefore it is important to note some rules:

Generally, it should be possible to get in the bath with a wheelchair or Walker.

The entrance to the bathroom must be at least 90 cm wide. People in wheelchairs have a turning radius of up to 150 cm. There must be also enough space in the bathroom.

Faucets must be easily accessible, also in the seats.

Where hot water comes out, a temperature limiter prevents scalding. A single lever mixer is comfortable to use as multiple buttons or cocks especially for people with Visual impairment. Alternatively, Touchless faucets are recommended if there is no visual impairment.

Bath may be not too high, so that it is no longer possible- and to get out.

Handles and mounts help here. If this not help lower body strength, there are also solutions in the form of an entry level bath. They have a side door through which you can enter in the bathtub easily. Once closed, so the door is tight and the tub can be filled water are. Additional features of accessible bathtubs: A seat in the tub, an electric hoist, anti slip floor, shower screen, to be able to shower in a sitting position.

Showers have ideally no steps.

You are so equal to ground with a maximum height difference of two cm. The ideal shower area is 120 x 120 cm, wheelchair even at 150 x 150 cm. A folding shower seat, amounting to 46 to 48 cm is secured laterally with flip-up up grips.

Washbasins have a height of 80 cm and are accessible.

The mirror above the washbasin has at least a height of 100 cm. Height-adjustable vanity must stand in the mirror with the washbasin or lower. An alternative solution is a tilting mirror.

The toilet is located at 46-48 cm height.

She must have flip-up support handles on both sides by default. Thus, a sit down and stand up well under difficult circumstances is possible. Adjustable height toilets are available. Washing and toilet paper must be accessible in a sitting position with hands or arms. A toilet with water spray and hair dryer is advisable for people who can use no toilet paper.

Support grips should be attached to several positions.

This applies, for example, the shower, the basin, the area next to the toilet, the bathtub and all those places where longer standing is a person or lowers itself and must get up again. Handles should wear at least a load of 100 kg and run horizontally or vertically. Diagonal support grips are unsafe.

Decorating tips – living room

The living room is the area where people can relax and pursue their favorite pastimes and hobbies. From the perspective of accessibility, it comes in particular that there is enough space in the living room. More standards and regulations:

A minimum depth of 90 cm applies to doors and the square in front of furniture and other objects.
An area of 120 x 120 cm or 150 x 150 cm applies to turning again for the disabled.
A Paternoster lift Cabinet or a gripper help take objects such as books from the shelves or cabinets. Or cabinets are accessible.
Controls and switches are installed at a height of 85 cm and at least 50 cm from the corner away, so wheelchair users also can reach them.
Seating furniture have an appropriate height that meets the individual requirements of each.
The lower edge of the window sits at a height of 60 cm. The handles of the Windows are at an altitude between 85-105 cm. Who can not reach handles or operate, has the option to automatically opening window.


The bedroom as the Bedchamber and retreat has usually even a closet next to the bed. Will continue to apply:

The bed must be accessible by at least by one side. To the edge of the bed is a space of 90 cm or 150 cm for wheelchair users. The upper part of the bed should have a height of 55 cm including requirements. Lights must be operated from the bed. A storage space should exist next to the bed so that here a phone or an emergency call can be placed.
Is to ensure for adequate lighting in the bedroom but also in the closet. This is important especially for the morning so that the residents in the half-asleep somewhere abuts or stumbles.
The Cabinet must be easily accessible. Here the depth of 90 cm square front and 150 cm rule again for wheelchair. A fold-out clothes rail helps achieve the clothes. No sharp edges stand out.
The bedroom is sufficiently skinned and heat insulated, so that the residents can sleep in peace throughout the year and the heat can adapt to his individual preferences.

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Remote radio control window shutters | Fotolia 68315638 / Jörg Lantelme

Outdoor areas

Balcony, terrace or garden: outdoor areas at the age often serve only contact to the outside world. The following guidelines prove to be useful:

Often, there are thresholds, which hinder access to the outside. These thresholds are ideally removed or reduced but at least to a height difference of 2 cm.

Balcony railings are accordingly low to keep if that wheelchair users take advantage of the balcony, and ideally transparent.
The movement area of balcony and terrace is located at 150 x 150 cm.
If the main entrance to the living area is somewhat more difficult, it can make sense to create a terrace as the second input.

Woman in a wheelchair to wheelchair ramp

A ramp to the entrance for wheelchair users. Fotolia 63831114 / RioPatuca images

Decorating tips – stairs and entrance

In many places, blocking the way to the entrance stairs and make this a very bad example for wheelchair or even unreachable. But there are many ways to facilitate the entrance to a living area, including:

Adequate lighting, which ideally by motion detector on itself and automatically turns off, helps to keep the overview.
The außenangebrachteHausnummerundKlingelschildermüssenguterkennbarsein, for doctors, clinics, or even taxi drivers not only in case of emergency to find the entrance.
Slipping out, rutschfesteBelegeundMatten before the entrance to help rain and wet conditions.
We need to check whether a ramp can help to overcome stairs.
A stair lift can be an expensive purchase. When climbing stairs is otherwise no longer possible, he is often the only way.
Used mobility aids, such as a Walker, a wheelchair, or other walking AIDS, is in front of the entrance, parking enough to create.
Other color profiles to the Treppenkannten make them more visible and prevent falls.
Elevators are the solution to too many stairs in the House. You need however much space and are not exactly cheap.

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A stair lift allows a simple travel through the floors. Fotolia 83349655 / Robert Kneschke


The corridor connects individual rooms. He is often very narrow, so other rooms have more space. So the best of the Hall can still get out:

If the floor with furniture fully, it is to remove them to make room.
The entrance to the Hall should have a movement area from 150 x 150 cm and have a width of 120 cm.
A two-tone chime or light signal Bell helps with limited hearing.
The dressing room is easily accessible.
A Chair makes it easy to drag around in the hallway.

Smart House technology helps

In the age of controllable electronics help numerous systems here, more comfortable to create barrier-free House. These systems are although not a legal requirement, but they allow for a higher quality of life – for all people. Technology to support life and is therefore under the name “Ambient Assisted Living (AAL)” or age-based assistance systems.

Lighting control system

Modern Lichsteuerungssysteme be combined with motion sensors and light sensors in the living area. It comes out exactly the right light to the right light conditions. It is dark outside, then the light in the room goes on, where the residents happen to be. They leave a room, then there is also the light goes off again. This saves money in the long run. The cost for an installation so automatically pay for themselves.

Automatic roller shutter up and down

Also shutter can time – and light-controlled up and down. This makes them not only accessible, but prevents also a burglary at holiday time.

Intercom with door intercom

To have to go to the door to see or hear, who is at the door, can in certain situations of great benefit or even survival.

Stove guard

The hearth is the number 1 cause of fire in the House. Most are items which are forgotten on the stove or hot oil overflowing. A stove guard is a device that instantly detects excessive heat and immediately cuts off the power to the stove.

Tele-medical monitoring

If computer-controlled a patient’s heart rate monitor, doctors with problems can provide immediate medical help. Many different vital signs may be monitored.

Fall carpet

These are carpets, which are equipped with sensors that can send out an emergency signal in case of a fall.

Funding: funding programs use and secure grants

Depending on the stage an accessible object can create significant additional costs. This concerns the maintenance of the measures in addition to the field of planning also. From a rental perspective does not also theoretically lettable space, where here the loss due to the rising demand for barrier-free real estate probably leveled up. For this, but also usually the value of the property is increased. The National Development Bank KfW or Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau supports clients with generous grants or loans with very low interest rates. The grant of 6,250 euro per unit for action to reduce the barrier is only up to the exhaustion of funds of one year possible. Shortly before the turn of the year the wait can pay off, because often the new year brings at least equivalent or higher promotions with. More information is available on the pages of KfW .


A reduction of barriers in your own home makes life much more enjoyable and possible in many cases for its inhabitants. The State is keen that builders accordingly (to) build their homes. Not least because of demographic change. The time is now to begin. Because by smart (UM) construction also the value of a property can be increased. That achieves higher yields and rents. Win-win-win.