Accessible Walkways: Obstacles and Solutions
If you have been following along our trend, we started out with pulling up into the driveway, delineating all of the important safety and accessibility features you want to keep in mind for your driveway.
Now we are moving on to getting from the driveway to the front door.
Every home has a different landscaping and outdoor setup but I am going to try to make some universal suggestions which you can apply to your individual situation.
Components to an Accessible Walkway:
First and foremost, the walkway must be a leveled surface connecting directly to the driveway. We don’t want any gaps or change in surface material which can present as a fall hazard (i.e. for someone with a vision impairment) or create an unnecessary obstacle for someone using assistive mobility devices such as a wheelchair or walker.
This would mean that the walkway must not only be connected to the driveway but it MUST extend directly from the driveway to the front door of the home without any gaps or bumps.
Now, as far as technicalities of the walkway, the same features of an accessible driveway would apply (refer to Accessible Driveways: Obstacles and Solutions for more details), but over here we will add on additional components that apply specifically to a walkway.
The walkway should be minimum 36 inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers.
In order to accommodate 2 people walking side by side the recommended width is 48 inches which is obviously preferable in case the need would arise for an individual to walk side by side with their caregiver.
The surface material of the walkway should be smooth and leveled such as asphalt or concrete.
The walkway should preferably be flat eliminating the need for extra exertion on an individual or caregiver.
On the flip side though, if there is a height difference between the driveway and the front door (i.e. the home is on a hill where the driveway is lower than the home entrance), the walkway can serve as a ramp. If this is the case though, it is quite important to learn the nuances of a truly accessible ramp to make sure that you are not taking away from an optimal safe and accessible home entrance. Check out for our post about Ramps for more info.
As always, lighting is key for safety! Similar to driveways again, lamp post lighting, pathway/paver lights, or motion sensor lights are all great options to keep your walkway a friendly place at night as well.
The length of the walkway will determine the amount of physical exertion required by an individual or their caregiver. The shorter the walkway, the quicker and less tired you’ll be while getting from point A to point B. If the driveway is a distance from the front door, you’ll want to consider extending the driveway closer to the home to eliminate unnecessary exertion.
When thinking about Universal Design (check out our post about Universal Design for more info), a shorter walkway is not only beneficial for someone with a physical impairment, it’s something that will make a world of a difference when you’re carrying/pushing a baby stroller, carrying packages inside, or even lugging suitcases to or from the car on the way to an exotic vacation. It’s an all-around win-win situation!
Now that was a mouthful!
So many things to keep in mind, but you’ll be so thankful when you can get from your car to your front door with a level of ease and comfort that you never knew was possible!
If you are interested in more detailed info, Kafka Granite has an excellent reader friendly guide to wheelchair accessible pathways.
Now, that’s that for Accessible Walkways: Obstacles and Solutions.
Quick memory quiz:
What are the 5 components to a safe walkway?
- Surface material
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To safe and happy homes,
Golda, a licensed Occupational Therapist and Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS professional) was inspired to specialize in an area which she felt would increase her clients’ quality of life beyond typical therapy treatment sessions. Golda embraces the idea of increasing clients’ abilities to reside in their homes barrier-free as providing a level of quality of life which cannot be matched. Follow along with Golda on her journey of creating a comprehensive resource center for home accessibility modifications here at adapttostay.com.