DIY Home Modifications

Tools for Planning Accessibility

Image of a Blue Plastic Figure in a Wheelchair with a Handle AttachedThe Visualizer is a clever tool for checking wheelchair access on blueprints. A clear disk is attached to a moulded figure that is, in turn, attached to a wand. The figure — a representation of a person in a wheelchair — and the disk depict a wheelchair “footprint” of 30 by 48 inches, and a turning radius of 60 inches, in 1/8 inch, 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch scale. Running the tool along your building plans gives you a visual check — will the wheelchair fit or not?

If you’re considering home modifications and working from blueprints, or just from graph paper, a tool like this offers a quick and easy way to see if you’ve got the right clearances built into your plan. This kit looks sturdy, and it’s probably fun to use, but if you have $45 (USD) to spend on a couple of wands and three pieces of plastic-and-acrylic, you’ve probably got enough money to hire an architect who will have his or her own tools.

Come to think of it, an architect’s office is probably the only place where this device will get enough use to justify the price. For the rest of us, maybe a little DIY is in order: How about cutting appropriately scaled disks from transparent plastic packaging and crazy-gluing pencils to them? You’ve got your “footprint”, you’ve got your transparent disk, and you’ve got an extra $44 (USD) left in your wallet. Good deal all around.

Visualizer Set (and outrageously priced rubber stamps, too) — Good thing for professionals, maybe, for the rest of the world, not so much.