Parent’s Guide to Creating a Safe Home for Children With Disabilities

Banner image
ByNathan Paulus
Reviewed byKelly Boyd
Contribution by1 expert
fact checked icon
ByNathan Paulus
fact checked icon
Reviewed byKelly Boyd
Contribution by1 expert
fact checked icon

Updated: November 11, 2023

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

Creating an accessible home environment for children with disabilities involves more than just physical modifications — it's about fostering a space where they can easily play, learn and bond with family. As children's needs evolve, homes should be modified to make activities of daily living easier — this can help children become more independent and accomplish routine tasks more quickly. Thinking long-term is also important to ensure spaces can accommodate them from childhood to adolescence.

Childhood Disabilities by the Numbers

 
FastFact (6).png
Fast fact icon

As of 2019, over three million children under the age of 18 in the U.S. were known to be living with a disability. This accounts for approximately 4% of this age group.

Fast fact icon

One in six children ages three to 17 living in the U.S. has at least one developmental disability, which is roughly 17% of this age group.

Fast fact icon

Among children five and older in 2019, cognitive difficulty was the most prevalent disability.


What to Consider When Creating an Accessible Home

Making a home both accessible and comfortable for children with disabilities requires careful planning. Every detail matters — from understanding their needs, to estimating the costs and connecting with state agencies and nonprofit organizations that can help pay for home modifications, to ensuring physical safety and durability. The following considerations will help you navigate the process of modifying your home so it suits your child’s needs as best as possible.

Assess Your Child's Specific Needs

Disabilities vary widely and what works for one child may not be feasible for another. Assessing your child's unique needs will help streamline the decision-making process when it comes to selecting home design modifications. Here's how to approach this beginning phase:

    doctor icon

    Seek Expert Guidance

    Collaborate with health care providers or seek expert guidance because they have in-depth knowledge of your child's medical condition and can identify specific needs. Also consider engaging occupational therapists, physical therapists and assistive technology specialists. Organizations like the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) can help individuals find qualified therapists.

    house icon

    Develop a Plan With a Design Specialist

    Working closely with design specialists provides a roadmap for making necessary changes, reducing uncertainty and enhancing your child's quality of life. Utilize community centers or online resources from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for guidelines and checklists.

Review Your Home's Current Layout

By thoroughly assessing your home's current design, you can create a strategic plan that maximizes comfort and functionality while being mindful of any constraints.

    sofa icon

    Space Analysis

    Start by identifying the areas your child frequents the most. These spaces should be at the forefront of your modification plans. For example, if the living room is their favorite spot, ensure it's safe and easily accessible.

    house2 icon

    Structural Limitations

    Especially in older homes, inherent design constraints pose challenges for specific modifications. Knowing these limitations can prevent potential roadblocks and save time and resources.

Prioritize Safety

As you adapt your home, be sure to incorporate necessary safety measures. Here are some considerations to ensure that your modifications prioritize your child's wellbeing:

    falling icon

    Potential Hazards

    Before making any changes, walk through your home and try to foresee potential risks. For instance, if you're installing a ramp, consider its gradient and the possibility of slips, especially in wet conditions. Make sure you’re following Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) specifications when installing any modifications.

    paintingRoller icon

    Material Choices

    The materials you choose can play a significant role in safety. Opt for non-slip flooring, especially in moist areas, like bathrooms. Ensure any paints or finishes are non-toxic and don't emit harmful fumes. The National Center for Environmental Health Strategies (NCEHS) offers some helpful guidance on this topic.

    openDoor icon

    Emergency Accessibility

    Ensure that modifications don't inadvertently block or hinder access to emergency exits. Make sure that there is more than one accessible exit in case one exit is blocked. Regardless of their mobility level, every household member should be able to evacuate quickly in emergencies.

    caringHands icon

    Monitoring and Alert Systems

    Having systems in place to monitor areas of potential risk or allow children to signal that they need help can be a lifesaver. This is especially true for rooms like the bathroom or kitchen, where accidents might occur.

Determine a Clear Budget

Home modifications can be costly. Balance creating a safe, accessible environment for your child while staying within your financial means.

    checkList icon

    Prioritize the Essentials

    Begin by listing all the modifications you believe your home needs. Once you have this list, categorize them into “essential” and “nice-to-have.” Modifications that benefit your child's safety and daily activities should always come first.

    coins icon

    Research and Get Estimates

    Get at least three estimates from contractors or providers for each essential modification. This will give you a clearer picture of the market rate and help you avoid overpaying.

    loanPro icon

    Set a Contingency Fund

    Home modifications, like all renovations, can come with unexpected costs. It's wise to be prepared. Allocate 10% to 20% of your budget for these unforeseen expenses.

    financialPlanning icon

    Explore Additional Means of Financing

    Setting up a GoFundMe account or applying for a grant can help finance your home modifications.

    signupBonus icon

    Re-Evaluate “Nice-to-Haves”

    Once you've set aside funds for essential modifications and contingencies, revisit your “nice-to-have” list. Determine which, if any, can fit into your remaining budget without stretching your finances too thin.

Think Long-Term

As children mature, their needs and preferences can shift. Implementing modifications that can adapt to these changes is essential to ensuring the home remains functional and comfortable throughout their growth.

    bookshelves icon

    Future-Proofing

    Opt for designs that can evolve with your child's needs. Features like adjustable shelves or modular furniture cater to their current requirements and can be easily reconfigured.

    bigHouseRent icon

    Resale Considerations

    While your primary focus is your child's needs, consider how modifications might impact the home's future resale value. Strive for changes that are universally appealing or can be easily reverted.

Consult Professionals

Tapping into professional knowledge can be invaluable when modifying your home. Expert advice can provide insights you might have yet to consider and ensure that modifications are up to code. They can also offer guidance on cost-saving solutions and might be aware of new, affordable technologies or modifications.

    contractor icon

    Hire Experienced, Reliable Contractors

    Contractors with experience in accessibility can offer valuable recommendations and ensure that changes comply with regulations. Before hiring a contractor, ask for recommendations and photos of their previous work.

    woman icon

    Stay Informed

    The field of accessible design is continually evolving. Regularly updating yourself ensures you know the latest and most effective solutions. Signing up for disability newsletters, magazines and websites can be an excellent way to receive updates about new technologies and home modifications.

Engage Your Child in the Process

Involving your child in the process of creating an accessible home environment is empowering and exciting for them and insightful for you, specifically regarding what will make them feel comfortable and supported. This collaboration can also help your child understand and adapt to the changes, reducing anxiety and resistance. Here's how you can engage your child in this important process:

1
Communicate Openly

Engage your child in a conversation about the planned changes to the home. Use simple language, pictures or drawings to make the concepts clear. Encourage them to ask questions and provide reassuring answers to help them understand the process.

2
Involve Them in Choices

Let your child participate in decisions related to the home's design. Whether choosing colors, furniture or room arrangements, their preferences can add a personal touch to the space. This involvement fosters a sense of ownership, connection to their environment and control over their lives. Seek out and watch together reality episodes or online videos where children and caretakers redesign their homes to be more accessible — this can inspire and give you and your child ideas for potential modifications.

3
Introduce Modifications Gradually

Make changes to the home gradually to help your child adapt. Show them examples or prototypes of the modifications and allow them to explore new fixtures or fittings. Introducing one change at a time simultaneously ensures a smooth transition and reduces anxiety. As you visit the homes of other loved ones with disabilities, you may also be able to glean inspiration and slowly incorporate those modifications into your own home.

Person in wheelchair looking at screen

Home Improvement for Specific Disabilities: A Room-by-Room Guide

Designing a safe home for children with disabilities requires a detailed, room-by-room approach. Each space in a home holds unique challenges and opportunities to foster independence, safety and comfort for your child. The following recommendations can serve as a starting point, but remember that individual needs may vary. Seek advice from experts and medical professionals before making any modifications.

Home Modifications for Children With Visual Impairments

Visual impairments can affect individuals differently. They may have partial sight or experience total blindness. Adapting a home for a child with a visual impairment means creating an environment where they can navigate safely and independently.

    childCare icon

    Bedroom

    • Use tactile markers for drawers and closets to help your child identify contents.
    • Ensure there is adequate lighting, especially near reading or study areas. Install 60- to 100-watt light bulbs in all fixtures, unless different bulbs are determined to be more suitable for your child.
    • Consider using talking clocks, alarms or digital assistants to assist with timekeeping.
    • Arrange furniture so pathways are clear and secure electrical cords to prevent tripping hazards.
    towels icon

    Bathroom

    • Use tactile floor mats to indicate different areas and ensure safety.
    • Install audible water temperature indicators and safety rails at the tub's edge or in the shower.
    • Ensure toiletries are organized and consistently placed. Mark toothbrushes with rubber bands or tape for easy identification. If your child has difficulties with vision, toiletries can be labeled in Braille; tactile maps that use various felt shapes can also help children better understand the layout of the bathroom.
    • Use towels and mats that contrast with the floor and fixtures. All mats should be slip resistant.
    fryingPan icon

    Kitchen

    • Label appliances with tactile or Braille stickers for easy identification.
    • Use contrasting colors for dishes and utensils to aid with visibility.
    • Ensure sharp objects are stored safely.
    • Set up an area where healthy snacks are readily available and keep everything in consistent locations for easy access.
    sofa icon

    Living Room

    • Use textured rugs to indicate different zones and ensure pathways are clear.
    • Ensure furniture edges are soft or padded to prevent injuries.
    • Remove low-lying objects, like coffee tables and ottomans, that could be tripping hazards.
    openDoor icon

    Outdoor Space

    • Use textured pathways or tactile tiles for safe navigation.
    • Install safety barriers around potential hazards, like pools or ponds.
    • Incorporate sound elements, like wind chimes or water features, for auditory cues.

Home Modifications for Children With Hearing Impairments

Children with impaired hearing may rely heavily on visual and tactile cues. Adapting the home environment to cater to these needs can significantly enhance their daily experiences and safety.

    childCare icon

    Bedroom

    • Use visual alarms or vibrating bed shakers for wake-up calls and emergency alerts.
    • Ensure a clear line of sight to windows and doorways for visual cues.
    towels icon

    Bathroom

    • Install flashing light water temperature indicators.
    • Use mirrors strategically to provide visual cues from multiple angles.
    • Consider tactile floor mats to signal different areas.
    fryingPan icon

    Kitchen

    • Use visual timers for cooking.
    • Opt for appliances with visual or tactile alerts.
    • Ensure that fire alarms have flashing lights in addition to sound.
    sofa icon

    Living Room

    • Use subtitles or closed captioning on TVs.
    • Consider visual doorbell alerts.
    • Ensure clear lines of sight to entrances and windows for visual cues.
    openDoor icon

    Outdoor Space

    • Install visual alerts for gates or door entries.
    • Use tactile pathways to guide movement.
    • Consider using wind chimes or other tactile elements for sensory engagement.

Home Modifications for Children Using Wheelchairs

Children who use wheelchairs need a home environment that revolves around physical accessibility. Given the increasing number of children who use wheelchairs who require accommodations, creating accessible homes has become paramount.

    childCare icon

    Bedroom

    • Ensure a clear path to the bed and other essential pieces of furniture for easy navigation.
    • Opt for adjustable bed heights to facilitate transfers, making it easier for your child to get in and out of bed.
    • Consider under-bed storage with a handle for wheelchair equipment or accessories to keep essentials within reach.
    • Always keep electrical cords off the floor to prevent the wheels from getting caught in them.
    • Install modifications on light switches to make them easier to reach.
    towels icon

    Bathrooom

    • Install a roll-in shower with a bench so your child can easily access the shower area.
    • Ensure sink and counter heights are wheelchair accessible, allowing for sink use.
    • Use lever-style faucet handles for easier operation, making it simpler for your child to control the water flow. Alternatively, plastic devices that clip on the faucet can make it easier to reach.
    • Place grab bars with rubber grips or grooves close to the shower, tub and toilet for extra support.
    • Install modifications on light switches to make them easier to reach.
    fryingPan icon

    Kitchen

    • Lower countertops or add adjustable-height sections so your child can easily prepare food or access items.
    • Ensure appliances are at a reachable height, allowing your child to use them independently.
    • Consider pull-down shelving for easier access, making it simpler for your child to reach items stored higher up.
    • Place essential items in lower cabinets that your child can easily reach. Use bins that can slide in and out for easy access.
    • Install modifications on light switches to make them easier to reach.
    sofa icon

    Living Room

    • Maintain open pathways for easy wheelchair maneuverability so your child can move freely.
    • Opt for furniture with storage to minimize clutter and be sure to keep the space tidy.
    • Ensure a clear line of sight to windows or entertainment systems, allowing your child to engage with the outside world or entertainment without obstruction.
    • Install modifications on light switches to make them easier to reach.
    openDoor icon

    Outdoor Space

    • Use ramps to connect indoors to outdoors.
    • Consider a raised garden bed for accessible gardening, allowing your child to engage in gardening activities. Put garden tools and watering cans on a nearby table so they can easily be reached.
    • Ensure outdoor seating is wheelchair-friendly. Provide comfortable seating options, or spaces at outdoor tables that children can slide their wheelchairs up to.
    carpet icon

    Flooring

    • Choose nonslip materials like textured vinyl, hardwood or ceramic to prevent slipping hazards.
    • Opt for laminate flooring for durability and ease of navigation.
    • If using carpet, stick to low-pile options to ensure smooth wheelchair movement.
    house2 icon

    Exterior and Home Entrance

    • Widen the front door (and all doorways) to at least 36 inches for easy access.
    • Install an entrance ramp if stairs are present. Follow regulations to ensure a smooth transition into the home.
    • Ensure walkways and sidewalks are level for safety.
    • Provide ample space in the entryway for wheelchair maneuverability and consider motion-sensing lights for visibility. Consult the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) guidelines on accessibility to ensure this area up to accessibility standards.
    garage icon

    Stairs

    • Ensure hallways are at least 42 inches wide for easy navigation.
    • Consider installing stairlifts or elevators for multi-level homes to provide access to all areas of the home.

Home Modifications for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Children on the autism spectrum often have sensory issues and often find comfort in routine and predictability. Tailoring the home environment to their unique needs can help secure the home and ensure it is a calming environment.

    childCare icon

    Bedroom

    • Use calming colors and minimalistic decor to reduce sensory overload.
    • Consider a weighted blanket for comfort and sensory needs. However, keep in mind that this might not work for every child.
    • Create a designated "safe space" or nook for relaxation.
    • Avoid using fluorescent lighting; opt for incandescent or non-flickering LED lighting whenever possible.
    towels icon

    Bathroom

    • Use visual schedules for hygiene routines.
    • Consider sensory-friendly bath toys or tools for grooming and bathing.
    • Make sure the layout and placement of items remain consistent. Have extra products on hand in so you do not run out.
    • Make electrical outlets safe by placing plastic covers over them.
    fryingPan icon

    Kitchen

    • Label items with pictures or simple words to aid in identification.
    • Use color-coded storage containers.
    • Create a designated snack or meal area with a schedule to establish a routine.
    • Install durable surfaces and keep breakables out of reach.
    • Purchase and use plastic dishware.
    • Arrange kitchen furniture to prevent climbing and ensure safety.
    • Store cleaning supplies in locked drawers or cabinets.
    • Put sharp items and potential hazards out of reach.
    • Opt for appliances with safety features, such as child locks or hidden controls.
    sofa icon

    Living Room

    • Designate specific areas for activities, like a reading nook or play corner.
    • Use soft lighting and avoid fluorescent lights to reduce sensory triggers.
    • Have blankets and other comforting items available.
    • Consider noise-canceling headphones or quiet zones for sensory breaks.
    • Reduce visual stimulation with neutral or soothing colors.
    • Organize items in see-through plastic bins with visual labels.
    • Use visual signals, like colored tape, to set boundaries.
    openDoor icon

    Outdoor Space

    • Create clear boundaries with fences or hedges.
    • Consider sensory-friendly equipment, like sandboxes or water play areas.
    • Designate specific zones for activities to establish a routine and predictability.
    • Use locks and alarms on doors and windows for safety.
    • Ensure the yard is free from dangerous items, such as tools or sharp objects. Otherwise, be sure these items are kept locked in a shed.
    • Consider installing cameras inside and outside the home for safety purposes.

Home Modifications for Children With Sensory Processing Disorders

Children with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) experience sensory information differently than others. They might be hypersensitive (over-responsive) or hyposensitive (under-responsive) to certain stimuli. As a result, their home environment should be tailored to provide the right balance of sensory inputs to ensure comfort and reduce potential triggers.

    house icon

    Throughout the House

    • Paint walls with neutral, soothing colors. Avoid bright, bold colors.
    • Install light dimmers and use as much natural lighting as possible. Avoid flickering lights, such as any type of fluorescent lighting, and switch to LED lights.
    • Keep the home free from clutter and unnecessary decor to reduce distractions.
    • Avoid strong odors from candles or diffusers. Choose unscented cleaning and laundry products.
    childCare icon

    Bedroom

    • Use soft, muted colors and minimalistic decor to create a serene atmosphere.
    • Utiltize nightlights.
    • Consider weighted blankets, soft sheets or textured pillows to cater to tactile needs.
    • Use white noise machines or soft music to mask disruptive noises or provide auditory comfort.
    towels icon

    Bathroom

    • Ensure water temperature is consistent to avoid sudden shocks. Consider color-changing temperature indicators.
    • Use textured bath mats or towels. Consider sensory-friendly bath toys or tools for grooming and bathing that vary in texture.
    • Opt for adjustable lighting that allows your child to set their preferred brightness level.
    fryingPan icon

    Kitchen

    • Label items with pictures or tactile markers to help with organization. Use clear containers to reduce visual clutter.
    • Create a sensory exploration box with safe kitchen items of various textures, like a sponge, wooden spoon or silicone molds.
    • Use silicone utensils or padded pot holders to reduce cooking or meal prep noise.
    sofa icon

    Living Room

    • Create specific areas for different activities, like a sensory corner with bean bags, a cuddle swing or tactile toys.
    • Use soft lighting and avoid fluorescent lights. Consider curtains or blinds that can adjust the amount of natural light.
    • Create a quiet zone or keep noise-canceling headphones on hand for auditory breaks.
    openDoor icon

    Outdoor Space

    • Incorporate plants with varied textures and scents in a garden. Consider a water feature for auditory and tactile stimulation.
    • Create a sandbox or a tactile exploration area with materials like pebbles, sand or water beads.
    • Introduce shaded spots as a retreat from overwhelming sunlight or visual stimuli.
    swipe icon

    Sensory Corner

    • Choose a quiet, dim and warm corner to design a "fort" or designated safe space. Fill it with blankets, pillows, quiet imaginative toys, music and soft seating like bean bag chairs.
    • Provide sensory input items like a small trampoline, noisy toys, rocking toys and seats that wiggle and bounce.

Test and Iterate

Once modifications are complete, observe their effectiveness and make adjustments as needed.

1
Trial Period

Spend some time observing how your child interacts with the new modifications. What works well? What doesn't? This will help you identify areas that are functioning optimally or that might need adjustments.

2
Gather Feedback

Engage with your child and other family members to gather feedback. Their direct experiences and perspectives can pinpoint areas for enhancement that you might not have noticed.

3
Continuous Improvement

Home modification for accessibility is an ongoing process. As your child grows and their needs evolve, be prepared to make changes to ensure the environment remains supportive and safe.

Person standing outside a house looking at a piece of paper.

How to Fund Home Accessibility Modifications

Creating a disability-friendly home involves more than just design. It also requires careful financial planning. A 2022 Houzz report found that the median expenditure on home renovations was $18,000 (with the top 10% spending up to $100,000); 34% of homeowners exceeded their budget, while 27% had yet to set a budget for their 2021 renovation. Although financial aid can help, strategize to maximize your budget.

    money icon

    Stick to Your Budget

    • Make Regular Check-Ins. Review your expenses against the budget periodically. This helps to catch any overspending early and make necessary adjustments.
    • Avoid Impulse Purchases. New gadgets and modifications are constantly being created; before buying these on an impulse, make sure you do adequate research. If your budget is really tight and you determine that a new item would be helpful, swap out something else on your wishlist.
    • Review and Compare. Get multiple quotes and recommendations before purchasing items or hiring a contractor. This ensures you get the best value for your money.
    hammer icon

    Embrace DIY When Possible

    • Self-Assess. Identify tasks within your skill set. Simple changes or modifications, like painting or installing basic fixtures, might not require professional intervention. Consider recruiting friends or volunteers from local organizations to help as well.
    • Seek Educational Resources. Tap into online platforms, like YouTube or DIY blogs, that offer a wealth of tutorials that can guide you through various projects. Make sure they are reputable to ensure safety.
    insurance2 icon

    Navigate Your Insurance

    • Understand Your Policy. Review your homeowner’s insurance policy to determine coverage for home modifications.
    • Consult. Speak with your insurance agent to clarify coverage details and get recommendations.
    • Document. Gather necessary medical documentation to prove the necessity of modifications.
    • Seek Pre-Authorization. Seek approval from your insurance provider before starting any modifications.
    bookshelves icon

    Repurpose and Reuse

    • Find Second-hand Markets. Look for materials or equipment in second-hand markets or online platforms, like Craigslist. You can often find gently used items at a fraction of the cost.
    • Repurpose Existing Items. Before buying new, see if you can repurpose or adjust what you already have. For instance, rearranging furniture might eliminate the need for certain modifications.
    loans icon

    Consider Taking Out a Loan

    Some loans finance home modifications, but make sure the loan terms are manageable and won't strain your finances in the long run.

    • Research Loan Types. Different loans, like personal or home equity loans, cater to varied needs. Determine which one aligns best with your situation.
    • Compare Interest Rates. Shop around to secure the lowest interest rate for a more manageable repayment schedule.
    • Understand Terms and Conditions. Familiarize yourself with the loan's terms, including potential penalties and conditions, to avoid surprises.
    • Seek Specialized Loans. Some institutions offer loans tailored for home modifications. These might have better terms or lower interest rates.
    • Plan Your Repayment. Ensure a clear and feasible repayment strategy before committing.

Financial Support for Home Accessibility Modifications

Modifying a home to accommodate a child's disability can be a significant investment. Various resources are available to assist families in making these essential changes so they don’t have to bear the entire financial burden.

Government Programs

Many levels of government provide assistance programs or tax incentives for families making accessibility modifications.

  • Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waivers: Medicaid offers waivers that can help fund home modifications to enhance accessibility for children with disabilities. The amount and type of support varies by state. Some states might cover the full cost of certain modifications, while others might offer a set dollar amount or cover a percentage of the costs.
  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program: Administered by HUD, the CDBG program provides communities with resources for various development needs, including housing rehabilitation. The amount varies based on the community's allocation and specific program guidelines. Some communities might offer grants that cover a significant portion or the full cost of accessibility modifications.
  • State-Specific Programs: Various states have programs to assist families with children with disabilities. Depending on the state, families might access loan programs, grants or tax incentives specifically for accessibility modifications. The benefits can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Check with local state agencies — like the local Office on Disability Services — or disability organizations for specifics, because these programs vary widely.

Tax Deductions

Home modifications for a child who has a disability can often qualify as medical expenses, thereby making them tax-deductible. You can reduce your taxable income by itemizing these expenses on your tax return. This can include costs for installing ramps, widening doorways or adding specialized bathroom fixtures. Keep detailed records of all expenses and consult a tax professional to ensure you maximize your deductions. For a comprehensive understanding of what qualifies as a medical expense and how to claim these deductions, refer to IRS Publication 502.

Grants and Supports From Organizations

Numerous nonprofits and other organizations offer grants for home modifications to accommodate children with disabilities. Check with local charities or national organizations related to specific disabilities to see what they offer.

  • Center for Independent Living: Offers services to people with disabilities, including assistance with home modifications. They can provide information, resources and sometimes direct financial assistance or referrals to local contractors experienced in accessibility modifications.
  • Christmas in Action: This nonprofit organization recruits community volunteers to repair the homes of low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners. Their primary focus is ensuring homes are warm, safe, dry and accessible.
  • Rebuilding Together: A leading nonprofit organization dedicated to renovating homes for those in need that has a focus on safety, health and accessibility. They especially assist low-income families with children who have disabilities.
  • Habitat for Humanity: While primarily known for building homes, some local branches of Habitat for Humanity also offer home repair services, including accessibility modifications. Their programs vary by location, so contact the local chapter for specific information.
  • National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification: This organization provides a directory of home modification resources, including state-by-state listings of available programs and organizations that can assist with funding or direct services.
  • Friends of Man: This charity provides assistance for various needs, including mobility equipment and home modifications. Applicants must be referred by a referring professional (like a social worker or doctor) who knows the situation.

Loan Programs

Some financial institutions offer low-interest loans tailored for home improvements related to disability accommodations.

  • Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM): This reverse mortgage program allows seniors to convert home equity into cash. Although primarily designed for older adults, it can be beneficial if the homeowner is a senior caring for a grandchild with disabilities.
  • Title I Property Improvement Loan Program: Offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), this program provides loans to homeowners who might not have access to traditional financing. It can be used for home modifications to enhance accessibility.
  • Fannie Mae Community HomeStyle Program: Fannie Mae offers flexible mortgage products for people with disabilities or those who have family members with disabilities who live with them. It can be used to purchase a new home or modify an existing one.
Person sitting and working on computer.

When to Consider Moving vs. Modifying a Home

Sometimes adapting a home is less feasible than moving. Assess both paths with clarity and objectivity. Here are some considerations to help guide this pivotal decision:

1
Cost vs. Value

If the estimated costs of modifications surpass the home's value, it might be more financially sound to consider relocating. Pouring excessive funds into a property that won't see a proportional increase in value can be a financial misstep.

2
Extensive Structural Changes

Some modifications, like widening hallways, removing walls or adding ramps, can quickly increase costs. In cases where the structural changes are vast and expensive, purchasing a home that's already accessible might be more economical.

3
Home Layout Limitations

Multi-story homes can pose challenges, especially if a child cannot navigate stairs independently. Even with solutions like stair lifts, the practicality might be limited. Transitioning to a single-story home could offer more convenience and safety.

4
Space Constraints

Medical equipment, mobility aids and therapy tools can require substantial space. If your current home's layout or room sizes can't comfortably accommodate these necessities, it might be time to look for a more spacious property.

5
Seek Expert Advice

Consult with a real estate agent familiar with accessible properties. They can provide insight into homes that align with your needs and offer a cost comparison between purchasing a new home and modifying your current one.

Additional Resources

Here's a curated list of trusted resources to guide and support families of children with disabilities:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics: AAP offers many resources, guidelines and information specifically tailored for children with disabilities.
  • Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA): ATIA represents the interests of its members and the assistive technology community in helping to provide solutions to persons with disabilities.
  • Center for Parent Information and Resources: Formerly the National Dissemination Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities, this center offers information on disabilities in children and youth. They provide resources, research and materials designed for families.
  • Children’s Defense Fund: CDF advocates for the rights and needs of children, particularly those with disabilities. They offer resources, research and policy information to support children in various areas, including education and health.
  • Council for Exceptional Children: CEC is a professional association dedicated to improving educational outcomes for children with disabilities. They offer resources, training and advocacy information.
  • Family Voices: This national organization promotes quality health care for all children, especially those with special needs. They equip families with the necessary tools for informed decision-making and foster collaborations between families and professionals.
  • HIE Help Center: This organization provides resources on caring for children with Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), as well as more general information about home modifications for children with disabilities.
  • Individuals With Disabilities Education Act: A U.S. federal law ensuring services to children with disabilities nationwide.
  • KidsHealth: A comprehensive resource providing doctor-reviewed advice on children's health, behavior and development. They have a section dedicated to children with special needs.
  • National Association of Parents With Children in Special Education: A nationwide association committed to providing comprehensive support to parents of children enrolled in special education services.
  • National Disability Institute Assistive Technology Loan Program: This insitute helps families afford home modifications and other assistive technologies through affordable loans.
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: A branch of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that offers a wealth of information on child health and development, including resources for children with disabilities.
  • Parent to Parent USA: This organization connects families of children with special needs to resources, personal support and local community networks.
  • Understood: This organization provides resources for parents of children with learning and attention deficit issues. They offer expert advice, personalized resources and access to a supportive community.
  • United Disabilities Services Foundation: This nonprofit organization helps people with disabilities make the modifications they need to live safely and independently in their homes.
  • Wrightslaw: This site offers information about special education laws and advocacy for children with disabilities.

Experts' Guide on Creating a Safe Home for Children With Disabilities

  1. What are the most important things to consider when creating an accessible home for children with disabilities?
  2. As the child grows and their needs change, how can the home environment be adaptively modified?
  3. Why is it necessary to involve your child in the home modification process?
  4. What are some common mistakes families make when attempting to create an accessible home?
Jamie Gold
Jamie GoldWellness Design Consultant and Author

About Nathan Paulus


Nathan Paulus headshot

Nathan Paulus is the Head of Content Marketing at MoneyGeek, with nearly 10 years of experience researching and creating content related to personal finance and financial literacy.

Paulus has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He enjoys helping people from all walks of life build stronger financial foundations.


sources