What a Disabled Person Needs in a Bathroom Design
Universal design blends beauty with safety and convenience. Accessibility is at the forefront of a lot of discussions lately. Some experts say that Universal Design is a better way of putting it, since improved access from the start means fewer issues for any person of any age. It's just a safer way of designing a bathroom.
Whether for a younger person with a disability, one of the millions of Americans who want to age in their own home, or enhanced safety for anyone, designing for disabilities takes a slightly enhanced approach from the average bathroom. It's not difficult -it's just a bit different. Here's what you need to know: Even in homes where wheelchair access isn't critical, grab bars make showers safer. Grab Bars are a Given Grab bars installed at the time of the build or remodel are usually sturdier than aftermarket or retrofit models. While they're commonly found on shower walls, they're also useful on walls beside the toilet. Many people use grab bars for fall prevention as well as for leverage and balance while standing or stepping into a shower. Grab bar location is important, according to the ADA. For example, on the side wall by a toilet, the best height is 33 - 36 inches from the floor. The height varies for showers and tubs, but your designer at BT Kitchens and Baths will incorporate those into your plans. Accessible Bathrooms Require More Space Some bathrooms seem barely large enough to walk through. But an accessible bathroom requires space for wheelchair use, including a 60-inch-wide area in which to turn around. This might make your bathroom design a little more complicated, but it's worth it in the end. A wider doorway, with a minimum width of 36 inches, makes wheelchair access easier. There's also a space allowance that helps with accessing the toilet and shower easier, whether with or without assistance. Single-handle faucets and shower wands make bathing easier for everyone. Showers and Bathtubs Need Extra Attention Bathrooms are notoriously wet and slippery areas, and no place is riskier than the shower or bathtub. Grab bars help, and so do handheld shower wands. But there's more that you can do. One of the smartest renovation options is a step-in shower. This curbless design allows the user to walk freely into the shower with no curb as a tripping hazard. It also allows wheelchair access, where a curbed shower doesn't. If you decide to keep a bathtub in your design, additional grab bars make it safer. Also, think about a walk-in tub instead of a traditional style. These tubs have a side door that opens so the user can walk in, then it closes and seals up tightly. You get the best of both worlds. Little Things Mean a Lot Along with all of the major safety considerations, there are lots of convenience issues to tackle. Access to the sink vanity means ADA-compliant cabinets that leave space underneath for a wheelchair. The vanity height can also be lowered to make access easier. Single-handle faucets reduce the risk of scalding, says This Old House. Light switches and outlets are another consideration. Rocker-style switches take less effort. Bob Vila recommends electrical outlets at a height of 18 to 24 inches. While you're at it, think about adding a lever-style doorknob that doesn't require a tight grip to operate. Universal design covers so much ground that the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards has nearly 300 pages and 10 chapters of important information. Fortunately for people in the Florida panhandle, BT Kitchen and Bath knows all of the ins and ou