Wheelchair Accessible Motorhome Modifications
Challenge: Make a Motorhome RV entrance and bedroom stairway safer and wheelchair accessible
Special Living Magazine
Modifying a Motorhome/Mobile Home to become a handicap accessible RV, especially to accommodate a wheelchair, isn’t your typical home modification. One of the biggest challenges is space – more precisely, lack of space.
It is important to make sure that the end result is safe and easy to use. The solution for this project was using some products in creative ways.
The bedroom area posed the first challenge. The owner was having difficulty using the stairs between the kitchen and the bedroom. Mounting a grab bar vertically near the doorway was an easy solution.
A modular ramp worked best for this project because it provides a low gradient slope for the entrance (above)
Mounting a four-foot adjustable support pole into the floor of the middle step also made it easier and safer to use the stairs. Sometimes called an Advantage Rail, it works in areas where a sturdy wall isn’t available for mounting a grab bar. It is a horizontal bar that swivels from side-to-side and locks into position at various intervals. It is often used near a bed for pulling up and transferring out of a wheelchair.
In this case, the pole was positioned to swivel and lock in front of the doorway to prevent a fall on the stairs at night when there is no lighting. It was also positioned to work on the opposite side of the door from the vertical grab bar.
A grab bar was mounted near the doorway leading from the kitchen to the bedroom (above left).
Looking down the stairs (above right), an adjustable pole was mounted into the floor of the middle step. It swivels and locks to prevent a fall down the stairs.
The living room has matching reclining chairs that are comfortable and look great, but were difficult to get in and out of because of their low profile. A Couch Cane was installed between them, which could be shared by users of both chairs. This is an inexpensive product that is ideal for couches and recliners to provide sturdy support for getting up or sitting down. It is easy to install and is held in place by the weight of the furniture.
A couch cane can be used by a person in either chair. It is held in place by the weight of the chair.
On the exterior, the biggest challenge of this project was how to get a wheelchair up and down the four steps to the entrance of the RV. When not on the road travelling, the motorhome is parked at a permanent RV Park.
The easiest solution was to install a ramp. Because of the tight space between the RVs at the park, a standard ramp wouldn’t work because it would have to point nearly straight up to fit (every one-inch of rise requires one-foot of ramp). Simple math proved that a long ramp was needed.
Considering all options, a Modular Ramp worked best for this project, because it provided a low gradient slope for the entrance. This ensured the proper one-inch to one-foot ratio for safety and ease of use.
Before and After the ramp was installed(from inside the RV)
The Modular Ramp is heavy-duty, all-aluminum construction, and provides a load capacity of 100 lbs. per square foot. Added safety features include handrails, and a toe rail along the entire length of the ramp, which prevents the wheelchair from rolling off the side of the ramp.
There are a number of styles and models of ramps to choose from and it’s always best to consult with an accessibility or ramp professional instead of guessing which one to use.
Before and After the ramp was installed – there was little space between motorhomes at the RV park
When using a wheelchair or walker on an incline it is not advisable to get a ramp that’s too short or flimsy just to save a little money. The correct ramp for a situation is not only safer and easier to use, it will last longer too.
Adding a ramp to a home benefits not only the homeowner, but also visitors who use a wheelchair, walker, and anybody who has difficulty using stairs.
Links to Products Discussed in This Article
For more information about making your home wheelchair accessible contact:
Accessible Design & Consulting
www.AccessibleConstruction.com Web Site