News from Northwest ADA Center – Idaho

Steps and staircases are a noted barrier to public spaces that limit equal opportunity to participate in community life. The ADA, and other civil rights laws, are designed to address these barriers. However, barriers in private residences are often not addressed by these laws. For people with mobility impairments, the first barriers to community participation may start at home.

Researchers from RTC: Rural and the University of Kansas took a closer look at how steps at the entrance of a home affects the community participation levels of people with mobility impairments. The research team explored the relationship between the presence of steps into people’s homes and their participation in community activities.

When comparing the number and types of trips taken outside of the home, researchers discovered that steps didn’t affect the number of non-discretionary trips (e.g., getting groceries, medications) taken by people with mobility impairments. However, it did impact discretionary trips resulting in nearly 50% fewer social and recreational trips outside of the home compared to people without mobility impairments.

While the ADA is designed to support the participation of people with disabilities within the community environment, this research suggests the one’s personal environment, namely the presence of steps into and out of their home, may be an important factor in a person’s level of community participation and should be taken into account in further research and development. It could also affect a person with a mobility disability being able to visit a home, if there are steps at the entrance.

Recommendations for home construction, whether or not designated for people with mobility impairments, offer three specific features:

– at least one zero-step entrance on an accessible route from the driveway or public sidewalk

– all interior doors wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through

– at least one toilet on the ground floor

If you have concerns about accessibility, contact your nearest ADA Center.



For more information about the ADA contact:

Dana Gover, MPA, and ACTCP Certification, ADA Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator 

For more information about ADA Technical Assistance visit the NW ADA Center Idaho website:
Phone: Voice and Text 208-841-9422
Idaho Relay Service: 7