Handicapped Accessible Bathroom

There is a lot to take into consideration when planning a handicapped accessible bathroom. Ultimately, there are only two things that really matter: making the bathroom experience safer and making the bathroom experience easier and more comfortable.

handicapped accessible bathroom

handicapped accessible bathroom

While safety is obviously a primary concern, ease of bathing should not be overlooked. Once a person becomes disabled, using a bathroom can become a nightmare; especially if assistance from a nurse or family member is required. As bathing becomes more difficult, it is common to see a person let their personal hygiene go by the wayside as they avoid cleaning themselves and using the bathroom. Inability to bathe without assistance will damage a person’s pride and eventually make them avoid using the bathroom.

The Requirements of Handicapped Accessible Bathrooms

A proper handicap bathroom design will often allow a disabled individual to bathe without the assistance of another person. Here are 10 ideas that every handicap bathroom designer should consider before they start building:

1) Walk-in Bathtubs:

Although slightly more difficult to enter/exit than a walk-in shower, a walk-in bathtub with a door is far easier and safer to enter than a conventional bathtub. Instead of having to step over a tub wall that can be as high as several feet, the user just needs to have enough use of his legs to step over a gap that is usually around 4 inches high and enough use of his arms to open/close a very light door. The disadvantage of a tub like this is that you have to wait for the tub to fill up after you bathe, and you typically have to wait for the tub to drain before you exit. Although not as easy to enter as a walk-in shower, showering is more dangerous than bathing, and besides, if you are looking to take a bath the walk-in shower just isn’t the same.

2) Walk-in Shower:

It is possible to build a shower room with a floor on level with the rest of your house. This allows you to ride a wheelchair (preferably a wheelchair designed to be submerged in water) directly into the shower and makes the shower extremely easy to enter/exit on foot. Although not as safe as a bathtub with a door because of the added risk of falling, the walk-in style shower allows for a less timing bathing experience.

3) Wheelchair Maneuverability:

The more space you leave for maneuvering around a bathroom in a wheelchair, the easier and safer it is going to be. You can see that this handicap bathroom not only has tons of wheelchair space, it also has a door-less shower. If you look closely, you can see that the vanity is elevated from the ground. This particular vanity has space under it so that a wheelchair can be rolled up to the sink.

4) Seats and grab bars inside your walk-in shower:

This style of walk-in shower is easier than a bath but with the added safety benefit of a seat over a conventional walk-in shower. This bathroom requires less space and would be good for a disabled person who was not wheelchair bound.

Handicapped Toilet Bathroomhandicapped bathroom

5) Sink with Wheelchair Access.

A bathroom vanity with space under it for a wheelchair can make it extremely easy for a handicapped person to wash their hands and brush their teeth. An ideal sink height for a wheelchair bound person is 30?, and a 34? height should not be exceeded. For a very tall person who is not wheelchair bound but has trouble bending, a 40? sink height is recommended.

6) Slip-proof Flooring:

Slip-proof flooring is available for both the bathtub, shower, and bathroom floor. Elderly and disabled individuals are far more likely to slip in a bathroom, especially if the floor gets wet. When they do slip, they are far more likely to suffer a serious injury. Adding a slip-proof coating to the bathroom floor is a simple and affordable way to make the bathroom safer for the who used handicapped shower chair.

7) Bathroom Entrance

In order to make it easy for a handicap person to enter and exit, the bathroom should have a zero-step entrance without a door. If privacy is considered important, a sliding door can be used, but a curtain or wraparound entrance that provides privacy without a physical obstacle is preferable. The entrance for a handicap friendly bathroom should be at least 32?. If the doorway is located in such a place that requires turning a wheelchair, the ideal width is 36?.

8) Grab Bars:

ADA compliant grab bars should be installed in the bathtub, shower, and around the toilet. Real bathroom design doesn’t always allow for large master bathrooms, but even if you are forced to build a small bathroom, there is always room for grab bars.

9) Toilet Height:

The optimal toilet height varies from person to person, but it is generally around 18?. The standard 15-17 inches toilet seat height causes problems for many disabled individuals. Elevating the seat 5-6? Toilets should have grab bars on either side, or preferably both. There are raised toilet seat add-on available that raise the height of the toilet between 4-6? and make sitting on the seat a little softer.

Step by Steps Building a Handicapped Accessible Bathroom

There are some basic steps that apply to any wheelchair accessible bathroom.

Step One: Install a doorway at least 32 inches wide so wheelchair users can enter the bathroom easily.

Step Two: Provide at least 30 inches by 48 inches of clear floor space in a wheelchair accessible bathroom. Take into consideration where you might put items typically kept in bathrooms, such as waste paper baskets, when deciding how large a bathroom should be.

Step Three: Install a sink no higher than 34 inches from the floor. Select a sink with open space beneath and insulate any exposed plumbing. Select a sink with faucets that can be controlled easily with just one hand. If you install the sink in a countertop, it should be no further than two inches from the front of the countertop so someone sitting in a wheelchair can reach it easily.

Showers for the handicapped

Showers for the handicapped

Step Four: Install a toilet with a seat 17 inches to 19 inches from the floor. Select a toilet that can be flushed easily with just one hand.

Step Five: Install a horizontal grab bar behind the toilet and another along one side of the toilet. Install a toilet paper holder within easy reach.

Step Six: Install a walk-in shower in addition to, or in place of, a bathtub. Install sturdy grab bars and provide a shower chair. Make sure the water is easily turned on and off and the water temperature is easy to adjust. A handheld showerhead helps many wheelchair users in the shower, as well. Provide an easy-to-reach place to store soap, shampoo and other shower needs.

Step Seven: Install electrical outlets and light switches where someone seated in a wheelchair can easily reach them.

Step Eight: Install towel racks or paper towel dispensers in places accessible to wheelchairs users. When building a wheelchair accessible bathroom in your own home, consider where you will store items like toiletries, extra towels and extra toilet paper. Make sure these items can be easily reached by someone sitting in a wheelchair.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires most public restrooms to be wheelchair accessible. You don’t have to have a wheelchair accessible bathroom at home but if you or a family member relies on a wheelchair, of course you’ll want at least one bathroom in the house to be accessible. People that use wheelchairs have differing abilities and limitations and you should consider your own needs and those of your family when building a handicapped accessible bathroom at home.