In 2013, there were over 53 million American adults and children living with some type of disability. About 11 million of those individuals needed personal assistance with one or more Activities of Daily Living (ADL).
The ability to bathe, groom, and use the toilet is something many of us take for granted. But for those whose physical disabilities obstruct their ability to carry out these tasks, an accessible bathroom can be life changing. Imagine a world where those with physical disabilities could carry out the basic Activities of Daily Living, safely and independently.
That world exists, and it has an Accessible Bathroom. A bathroom without barriers allows wheelchair users and those with walking aids to get around safely and independently, making it easier to bathe, groom and use the toilet. Independence is a major part of a high-quality, happy life.
An accessible bathroom can provide it. Barrier-free bathrooms offer a safe solution for people who have reduced balance and mobility, but can also benefit those without a physical disability. As most bath and toilet rooms are shared between several family members, accessible designs must address multiple requirements.
Luckily, most new products are designed with accessibility requirements in mind. This has resulted in a growing selection of high-quality, attractive, and well-planned products and designs that make everyday living much easier.
Seek professional advice to analyze your unique situation. Occupational therapists, interior designers, architects, and remodelers with firsthand knowledge of accessibility issues can offer solutions and suggestions to make the renovation or building process easier and more valuable.
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Mary was having difficulty using the tub and had fallen in the bathroom. Mary called her states Independent Living Center, who then referred her to an Occupational Therapist (OT) who was able to offer many useful ideas. The OT visited Mary at her home and made accessible recommendations that could be installed quickly and were relatively inexpensive.
Within a week, her son Mike had installed two grab bars in the bathtub and a hand-held shower for better control. Mary also purchased a simple bath-bench. She could now enter the tub safely by sitting on the bench outside the tub, sliding over, and maneuvering her legs into the tub.
Encouraged by her newfound independence from her accessible improvements, Mary continued to look at other accessible bathing solutions and within two months had installed a roll-in accessible shower to replace her bathtub. Now Mary enjoys bathing in her barrier-free shower, safely and independently."An accessible bathroom changed Mary's life".
Before making her bathroom accessible Mary, like many her age, feared falling in the bathtub. Today, Mary thoroughly enjoys her bathing experience.
Universal Design is changing the way we see Bathrooms:
The majority of falls occur at home, and wet slippery bathroom floors are the #1 cause of falls at home.
Accessible bathrooms allow people with disabilities and their families to enjoy a bathroom that is safe, attractive, comfortable, and easy-to-use. In residential and commercial construction, universal design principles are gaining popularity and include making the bathroom usable by people of diverse abilities, from an elderly parent with limited mobility to an agile teenager.
The Universal Design trend is gaining momentum as the population ages and seniors seek to remain in their homes instead of moving to retirement communities. Universal design space must not only be accessible, but also look great and appeal to all sorts of people. Today, accessible bathrooms come in a variety of designs that make life easier for everyone in the household to use the bathroom.
The laws that govern barrier-free issues generally apply to the commercial market, i.e., public facilities, where a real emphasis has been placed on accessibility. Also, be aware that state-wide regulations may exist and be enforced in your area for multi-family housing developments.
For commercial applications the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG), cover the construction and alteration of both private and public sector facilities. For more detailed information on these commercial applications see ADA Bathrooms, this page also contains helpful information and diagrams for ADA wheelchair turning, reaching limits, shower and stall guidelines, etc.
The information on this page is primarily for use in residential construction.
Standard bathrooms are typically small, efficient spaces. Wheelchair users need larger bathrooms to allow for maneuvering, easily and safely.
Standard interior residential doors are usually 30” wide, but wheelchair users need wider doorways to pass through comfortably.
Bathroom floors can be incredibly slippery, especially when wet, and are the reason for countless emergency room visits. Reducing the slipperiness of the bathroom floor is often an easy and inexpensive modification:
Grab bars are a great way to reduce falls and provide support in the bathroom. Here are some tips on grab bar installation:
There are many easy and inexpensive ways to improve the safety and comfort of your bathroom.
Walk in tubs have become an incredibly popular solution to the high-step conventional bathtub.
Accessible showers are found in homes across the country. They�re not just for those with physical limitations, as roll-in showers of today come in a variety of designer styles.
An accessible barrier-free shower pan can be combined with ceramic wall tiles for a beautiful custom shower that will accommodate someone in a wheelchair. See ADA and Accessible Shower Bases.
It takes a bit of creativity, to find the additional floor space a person using a walker or wheelchair requires. Sometimes extra space can be found within the existing structure.
Removing an adjacent closet often allows room for a larger shower, including a bench and a hand-held showerhead. Sometimes an existing swinging door can be replaced with a pocket door to take further advantage of available floor space.
Different users have different needs, so take the time to determine which modifications would be the most appropriate.
Toilet heights are described as low and high seats.
- 5' x 4'8" for a front or side approach with no lavatory(sink) next to toilet.
- 4' x 5'6" for a front or side approach with lavatory next to toilet.
- 4' x 4'8" for a side approach with lavatory next to toilet.
Bathrooms are more accessible to wheelchairs if a pedestal wall-mounted sink or vanity is installed.
There are many ways to make your bathroom safer and user friendly for the whole family.
An accessible bathroom can change your life. Increasing your freedom and independence in bathing doesn't have to be hard. Accessibility Professionals is here to make independence a reality.