According to a census as far back as 2010, the statistic of physically disabled U.S. residents was greater than 56 million. The number only increases over time. Whether you or a loved one counts among those with a physical disability, having a handicapped-accessible bathroom is important for comfort and safety when engaging in basic human necessities. These four adjustments to your bathroom will ensure that anyone can utilize that vital space.
1- Shower Stall
Bathtubs can be extremely hazardous for people with mobility difficulties. Even basic shower stalls tend to have ledges along the opening that would block the easy access of a wheelchair or wheeled walker. Consider converting to a shower stall with a flush door groove so that wheels can easily pass over it. Even if no wheelchair or walker users are going to be using the shower, those with difficulty walking can appreciate not having to step over a lip.
2- Taller Toilet
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires toilet bowl rims to stand between 17 and 19 inches above the surface of a finished bathroom floor. An abundance of options in toilet seats adds various degrees of thickness to that height; a selection can be seen here. For wheelchair users, the ideal height of a toilet with a seat included is level with the seat of the wheelchair. This ensures an easier task of transferring back and forth between the two. Toilet seat risers exist for those who do not wish to completely replace their toilets or are dealing with a temporary physical disability. These fit atop the rim of the toilet, providing a seat that is elevated.
3- Grab Bars
Properly installed grab bars are essential accessories for a completely accessible bathroom. The installation must be secure to bear the weight of the users. Grab bars can be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal depending on their location and the needs of the household. Place them in and beside shower stalls and bathtubs, by toilets, and even near the sink to help balance at vulnerable moments. Toilet risers may also have bars attached to help in a way that is even closer to the user.
4- Widened Spaces for Wheelchairs
When considering wheelchair users in a bathroom, a bigger footprint of maneuverable space is a top priority. Another is a doorway that is wide enough to allow the width of the user’s wheelchair along with space for the user’s hands to wheel through it. If the bathroom is positioned at the end of a hallway, where the doorway allows for a straight entry, the door should be, at minimum, 32 inches wide. A door situated in such a way as to require a turn into it must be a minimum of 36 inches wide. Note that in spaces that are tight, the door is best placed so that it opens outward from the room. Hardware for the door should feature lever-style handles that are more convenient to use.
Many people will experience temporary or permanent physical disabilities in their lifetimes. As awareness of the needs of the handicapped grows, options for improving access increase. You can make use of these choices, whether you or someone in your household requires such options, or if you simply wish to make your bathroom more accessible for guests of all physical abilities.