Entrances and Thresholds at Home
For a wheelchair user the first challenge is gaining entrance to their home. While many builders ensure there is a ramp or slope to the front door (or at least one entrance to the home) and ensure the door itself is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair they often ignore the threshold. For maximum accessibility builders and designers alike should plan entryways with low, tapered thresholds into, and throughout, the home ensuring adequate maneuvering room on the latch side of the door is provided so the individual will be able to turn, close, and secure the door behind them.
This threshold is neither flat nor tapered. While the ramp and porch leading to the door taper right to the threshold this is where the smooth transition ends. Even with 1 5/8 inch wood plank floor this door sill is still too high on the interior side, causing the small front tires, or casters, of the wheelchair to "catch" and turn sideways making it difficult for the wheelchair occupant to maneuver backwards across the sill while "fighting" the turn of the casters. The porch and ramp on the outside are sloped away from the door causing the wheelchair occupant to be tilted away from the door itself. This makes it very difficult for the wheelchair occupant to close the door behind them. The occupant is forced to maneuver the chair over the sill backwards onto a downhill slope with one hand while attempting to maintain a grip on the door latch with the other. For many this is an impossibility, requiring the wheelchair occupant to get help in closing the door.
This threshold is an excellent illustration of a recessed threshold with a slight, tapered rise. The transition from the slate on the front stoop and the interior tile is small making it a smooth transition for the wheelchair user into the home.
*Note: Did you notice the missing grout? It is vitally important to maintain thresholds as small losses of grout or other sealing materials can allow the intrusion of moisture which can damage the sill and cause a rise in energy costs over time. It is important to maintain a weather tight seal around all entrances.