If you have been looking over any information from the ADA or universal design you will have seen something to the effect that door knobs and drawer hardware should be usable without someone having to twist, grip, pinch, or turn their hands or fingers. What does that mean and what do these pieces of hardware look like?
As you read through this post think about ALL the individuals that would benefit from easy to use hardware. Not only does it benefit someone that has trouble using their hands due to arthritis, amputation, paralysis, injury to the hand, stroke, burn, or other impairment, but it allows individuals without any trouble to easily open and use doors and drawers with more safety and less frustration.
Lever Handles for Doors versus Door Knobs
Imagine getting a bunch of things out of your car and making your way inside with a load of things in your arms and possibly a child in tow. You get to the door and have to unload your stuff to actually turn the door knob. Replacing the knobs with lever handles allows you to easily press the lever with a closed fist, an elbow, a foot or whatever, to open the door without playing gymnastics with the things in your hands. There are a lots of great looking lever handles out there these days!
Door Hinge Options
Ever wish a door in your house was just a bit wider to allow better access inside a bathroom, bedroom, or closet? Sometimes actually widening the door can be costly. Investing in a offset hinges allow the door to be open flush with the frame versus reducing the clearance by 1.5″-2″. Or you can do what my parents did and just remove a bathroom door in their master bath (the only accessible bathroom for my husband on their first floor). An air vent was being blocked behind the door anyway and where their bathroom was situated, it just made sense to make it an open concept to give them more room in the bathroom as well.
Sliding Door and Pocket Door Hardware Options
Sliding door and pocket door hardware can be hard to manipulate because some locks require you to wedge a finger in a small hole to engage/disengage the lock. Making sure the lock is a lever and easy to operate with a fist is ideal. The bigger the handle the better because it offers a space to push or pull the door with a fist or elbow. The door hardware that requires you to press your fingers into a small divot to close are hard even for me to use. Check to make sure the door on the track does not require a ton of force to open or close as well. 5lbs of pressure is a good range.
Drawer Knobs and Pulls
The majority of these are generally easy to use. Bars and stationary knobs offer a wide range of ways to get a fist, elbow or foot on the hardware to open or close the door or drawer.
If a drawer has a swinging handle or pull, or must be operated by sticking fingers into the pull or the drawer itself, it limits access for individuals without fingers and/or the ability to grasp, pinch or move their fingers. Get creative and put some neat looking hardware on your cabinets. It will spruce up the space without spending a ton of money.
If a drawer doesn’t slide well in the cabinetry, that can be a frustration. We have an old dresser that doesn’t have any hardware for the drawers to slide on within the cabinet. My dad gave me a great tip to ease the frustration of sticky drawers that are wood on wood; rub candle wax along the edges of the drawer and they slide in and out without lots of grunting, and pushing.
I also love the soft close slides that slow the drawer down before it completely closes. No more slamming drawers!
My dad recently redid a chest-of-drawers (I fondly named it “Chester”) and added a small safety stop on the back of the drawer so it wouldn’t fully come out of the cabinet. There had been many times over the years that I was afraid that the drawer would break a toe if I accidentally pulled it out too far. This safety option is built into “Chester” and not only benefits me, but my husband, and reduces the fear if a young child were to play with the drawers as well.
Featured Image Credit (Biscarotte)