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Accessible Bathrooms

Part 2


As previously mentioned, past trends in bathroom design was to use the smallest possible amount of floor space possible to house basic bathroom fixtures. New home buyers are asking for larger bathrooms equipped with the latest in upscale bathroom fixtures that include whirlpool bathtubs, bidets and his and hers basins.

Keys to the successful design and construction of an accessible bathroom:

accessible bathtub faucets
Figure 3 - Accessible bathtub faucets

To comfortably house the new fixtures, bathrooms have to be larger, which creates a secondary benefit. Larger bathrooms create larger open areas which in turn makes maneuverability for individuals needing the use of wheelchairs and walkers possible.

Maneuverability is critical for those that require mobility aids. However, added space is not always enough. In many cases it is necessary to consider the positioning of faucets in easily accessible locations, as shown in Figure 3, and the installation of additional safety devices such as grab bars beside toilets, bathtubs and on route to showers, as shown in Figure 4.

grab bars for accessibility
Figure 4 - Installation of grab bars for bathroom accessibility
accessible height for bathroom cabinet
Figure 5 - Accessible height for bathroom cabinets

Besides grab bars it is important to consider the materials chosen for flooring. Many materials such as polished marbles, granite and ceramics become virtual skating rinks when wet. Using non-slip flooring, coupled with adequate lighting, is not only important for those with disabilities, but falls can happen to anyone.

Storage space, which in many bathrooms is only available beneath the basin in a vanity, can be difficult to access, especially if there is someone with disabilities. The most convenient storage space to access is between 18 inches and 48 inches, as shown in Figure 5.

When designing the bathroom, consider the use of towel bars, or towel shelves to hold towels in a location that is close and at a correct height to the bathtub and/or shower for easy access when wet.

If visitors will be using the bathroom access to hand towels, soaps and other essentials should be placed in locations that are obvious and rational. Visitors and guests should not have to hunt for essentials!

Locating the towels in an obvious location may seem to be basic common sense. There are some other small things that can be done to your bathroom in order to make it more accessible:

<q>D</q> style drawer and cabinet door pull
Figure 6 - D style cabinet door and drawer pull
hands free faucet
Figure 7 - Hands free faucet
motion activated switch
Figure 8 - Motion activated switch
adjustable shower head mount
Figure 9 - Adjustable shower head mount

Creativity in adaptability:

Family and guest circumstances are all different and the size and physical shapes of bathrooms vary. In order to achieve adaptability, creative is often necessary. As examples:

knee space under vanity
Figure 10 - Knee space under vanity
  • To make a shower head’s height adjustable, a homeowner can install shower arms with heads that are attached to vertical slide bars, as shown in Figure 9, most are even removable making them handheld showers.
  • Portable raised toilet seats can accommodate visitors who have difficulty in raising and lowering themselves in and out of low seating.
  • Some grab bars are designed to fold out of the way, when not in use.
  • If you have occasionally visitors who require knee space under vanities, the area can be utilized for storage when the knee space is not required as shown in Figure 10