How to Make Your Bathroom Wheelchair Accessible
When living with a person with disabilities, it’s important to keep their needs in mind. This is especially true regarding the layout of a home bathroom. Standard home bathroom designs generally aren’t made for people with disabilities. Making them wheelchair-accessible often requires changes to the shower stall, sink, toilet, and other essential bathroom furnishings.
How to Make a Wheelchair-Handicap Bathroom for Seniors and the Disabled
If you need to make an accessible bathroom for seniors and disabled people with limited mobility issues, here are some of the guidelines you should keep in mind:
In order to be fully wheelchair accessible, doorways should be at least 34 inches wide when the door is open at 90 degrees. Additionally, door knobs should also be replaced with levers to allow seniors and people with disabilities easy access to the bathroom.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bathroom requirements, your bathroom needs space for a five-foot turning radius. That may be a bit large for a home bathroom, but it gives a good idea of the kind of space needed for a person who uses a wheelchair to change the orientation of their chair conveniently. The ADA guidelines are based on what is needed for a non-electric wheelchair to be comfortably reoriented without running into walls; electric wheelchairs can turn with less space.
Showers or Baths
A handicap-accessible bathroom should have a curbless shower stall, which should be at least five feet wide and three feet deep. Having a curbless shower stall will make it easier to get in and out of the shower and provide more room for turning in the room as a whole.
Some people with wheelchairs transfer to a shower chair with a netted seat. For those who don’t have a second bathtub seat, the shower will have to have a seat and handrails installed (if the standard chrome/metal color is too dour-looking, handrails also come in a variety of colors).
A detachable, hand-held shower head will also make the shower easier to use and adding a thermostat control that regulates water temperature will help prevent injuries.
Here are some other specifications that can help you make an ADA-compliant accessible shower:
- Install one or more grab bars on the shower walls to help prevent falls and accidents.
- A low shower threshold makes the shower easier to access in a wheelchair.
- Install a pressure-balanced valve to regulate the water temperature and prevent scalding.
Remember that the shower can be dangerous for someone with a disability, so do your best to turn it into a safe space that everyone can enjoy. Additionally, keep in mind that walk-in showers are usually the best options for wheelchair users.
Sink and Mirror
The top of the sink should be between 32 to 34 inches off the ground, and there should be at least 27 inches of clearance from the floor to the bottom of the sink. Having that much space between the sink and the floor will likely require that the piping be remodeled; a plumber or remodeler can easily move the pipes and trap them into the wall to create the necessary space.
The mirror should be positioned low enough and tilted slightly forward for someone in a seated position to be able to use it. Lever handles or button controls will be easier to use than knobs; alternately, infrared motion sensors can also be used. Some handicap-accessible sinks place the handles on the side of the sink instead of beside the faucet head, providing another easy-to-reach option.
For people in a wheelchair, it is easier to transfer themselves to a toilet seat height that is taller than the standard home bathroom variety (as a bonus, taller toilets are more comfortable to sit on). The toilet should be at least 17 inches high, with two support bars on either wall.
The toilet must also be positioned 16 to 18 inches from each side wall to make the transfer process easier and safer. Support bars should be able to withstand at least 250 pounds of pressure; this may require reinforcing the walls.
Racks and Shelving
Towel racks, shelves, and other storage spaces should be positioned low enough that someone who is seated in a wheelchair can easily reach their contents. The ADA requires that coat hooks and shelves be installed no higher than 48 inches above the finished floor.
Make Your Bathroom Wheelchair-Accessible with American Bath Enterprises
Do you have someone in a wheelchair living at home? If so, now’s the time to make your bathroom wheelchair accessible.
At American Bath Enterprises, we have everything you need to make your shower enclosures, shower heads, and bathroom easy to access for everyone. To learn more about our American-made products and services, contact us at (888) 228-4925!