The barrier-free design and furnishing of the apartment and in particular the bedroom and bathroom has become increasingly important in recent decades. In this article we deal intensively with the topic of “barrier-free”, provide information on how to furnish a bedroom barrier-free, illuminate the background and give valuable tips.
The “barrier-free” or “barrier-free apartment design” has been gaining more and more importance for years. However, it is not clear to everyone what this is all about and how accessibility can be differentiated from, for example, “wheelchair-accessible” or “age-appropriate”. Before we deal intensively with the furnishing of a barrier-free bedroom in our magazine article, we first want to consider, explain and differentiate the relevant terms.
What does barrier-free mean?
“Barrier-free” or “barrier-free” means that the environment or surroundings can be used by all people without barriers / obstacles in such a way that no outside help is required. In this context, all people include people with disabilities if they are not (yet) dependent on a wheelchair. Otherwise, especially the needs and requirements of older people, children and people of short or tall stature are among those that have to be taken into account in the context of barrier-free planning and facilities.
Definition – barrier-free:
In Germany there is a legal definition for “barrier-free”, which refers to the importance of barrier-free access for people with disabilities:
“Structural and other systems, means of transport, technical objects of daily use, information processing systems, acoustic and visual information sources and communication facilities as well as other designed areas of life are barrier-free if they can be found in the usual way for people with disabilities, without particular difficulty and generally without outside help, are accessible and usable. The use of aids required due to disability is permitted. ”
What does wheelchair accessible mean? The term “wheelchair-accessible” appeared next to the term “barrier-free” in the two DIN standards 18024 and 18025. These standards have now been replaced by DIN 18040-1 (barrier-free construction – planning principles – part 1: Buildings accessible to the public) and DIN 18040-2 (barrier-free construction – planning principles – part 2: apartments).
Wheelchair access extends the requirements that are made of barrier-free access. A wheelchair-accessible environment is therefore always barrier-free for people with reduced mobility. This situation, which is free of obstacles for wheelchair users and people with walking disabilities, does not necessarily have to be barrier-free for people with other disabilities such as the hearing or visually impaired.
In order for an environment to be wheelchair accessible, all areas and rooms must be accessible for wheelchair users without outside help so that they can act largely independently.
In connection with standards and guidelines, the wheelchair is almost always assumed to be an electric wheelchair, which is up to 85 cm wide and 120 cm long – not a hand-operated wheelchair. The power wheelchair is used to determine the size that the movement area must have for unrestricted movement and maneuvering for wheelchair users.
In addition to the term “wheelchair accessible”, the term “handicapped accessible” is also used synonymously. This is used less often nowadays because it can be seen as discriminatory. The expression “handicapped accessible” can, however, also be understood further than the term “wheelchair accessible”. Since there are a large number of different disabilities, a handicapped-accessible apartment cannot be described in general terms. The individual needs of the respective resident, which result in particular from his or her handicap, specify the requirements that a handicapped-accessible apartment that is suitable for this particular person must offer.
What is “age-appropriate” or “age-appropriate”?
In the real estate sector, the word “age-appropriate” is often replaced by “senior-friendly” or replaced because it has a less discriminatory effect and is therefore less negative, which is particularly advantageous for marketing purposes. In the case of old-age or senior-friendly apartments or facilities, the environment is designed in such a way that the special requirements associated with older people are particularly taken into account and the environment is designed to be barrier-free in this regard. However, there is no precise definition of “age-appropriate”.
An age-appropriate or age-appropriate apartment does not necessarily have to be barrier-free in the narrower sense according to the DIN standard, but can also be “only” barrier-free.
Since April 2012 there has been the KfW standard “Age-Appropriate House” of the KfW Bankengruppe. KfW Bank maintains the “Age-appropriate renovation” funding program for the low-barrier or reduced-barrier conversion of an apartment or an entire house, as well as for individual modernization measures to reduce barriers.
Definition of an “age-appropriate house” according to the KfW standard:
“In an age-appropriate house or apartment, access, living room, bedroom and bathroom must be barrier-free and certain operating elements must be available.”
Accessibility cannot be defined in the same way for everyone, as different groups of people have different requirements for a barrier-free environment. A wheelchair-accessible living environment is not necessarily barrier-free for other people with disabilities.
However, there are general guidelines when it comes to barrier-free environmental or (residential) room design. Once these guidelines have been implemented, specific adjustments can be made to achieve specific accessibility for specific requirements.