Bathrooms are usually the hardest and most expensive rooms in a home to get right when it comes to equal access design. All areas of a bathroom, including the shower, toilet and sink need to be made accessible for those with disabilities. As a starting point, you will want to consider the needs of the specific people in the home. After that, there are a few general things you should also consider:
Size and Location
The bigger a bathroom is the better: it allows people with restricted mobility to get around and move more easily. As for the location, you will generally want to place a bathroom as close to the bedroom as possible. Ideally, there will be a bathroom within easy reach of any area in the home, which means that if you have a multi-story home, it’s a good idea to have a toilet on each level.
Storage and Rubbish
You will want to have an easily accessible storage area in the bathroom where you can keep toilet paper, tampons, incontinence pads, and other supplies that someone may need in their bathroom. You should also include a rubbish bin where sanitary wrappers and empty toilet rolls can be disposed of.
Toilets and Bidets
Generally, toilets should be higher up than normal so that it is easier to get on and off of them when using the restroom. Grip rails should be installed on both sides of the toilet so that a person in a wheelchair will have adequate support when shifting to and from the toilet. Also make sure that the flush controls are accessible for those in wheelchairs or with limited strength. A bidet is a great hygiene aid for someone with limited mobility. Separate guardrails may be required for this unit as well.
Vanities and Sinks
The vanities and washbasins in a bathroom designed for universal access will most likely need to be lower than a normal bathroom. Semi-recessed basins are also a good idea, since they give people in a wheelchair more space to get closer to the washbasin when they are washing their hands or face.
Showers and Baths
Showers are usually safer and more accessible than bathtubs. It’s important that shower stalls or cubicles be installed on a flat surface so that there are no high edges to step over. Wet area showers are a great idea: this design is simply an area of the bathroom that is used as a shower. It is often designed with a sliding glass door or a sloped floor to help promote drainage. If possible, try to add a seat in the shower to make it less strenuous for a person with a disability to bathe.
Taking these steps will help you make any bathroom in your home more accessible to people of all ability levels.