With the Paralympics recently in town, we wanted to dedicate a couple of our posts to all of our disabled athletes who had the vision and perseverance to do what many thought was impossible.
If you are physically disabled or have ever had to use crutches to move around, then you know how difficult it is to move around in small cramped spaces that are poorly designed. As a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), our building codes have come a long way to address space design for the physically disabled.
Here is our overview of items to consider when designing bathrooms for disabled people:
- Doorways must be a minimum of 32″ wide to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. Doors need to swing out and must have clearance on both sides. Pocket doors may be considered.
- Door threshold should be even with adjacent floors.
- A five-foot circle should fit in the space without interference to allow a wheelchair to make a 360 degree turn.
- Wheelchairs should be able to roll up to the sink with knee room underneath. Do not block access with a vanity cabinet and any shelves should be accessible from a seated position.
- Avoid door latches and handles that are difficult to operate. Level handles are usually ideal.
- Plumbing fixtures like faucets, etc should be easily accessible and should not require a strong grip to operate.
- For bathtubs, install a seat at the head of the tub or inside the shower enclosure.
- Wall-mounted grab bars should be installed.
- All flooring materials should be non-slip.
- Consider door locks that can be opened from outside in case of emergency (ie. someone falls & blocks the door opening)
- Toilets should be at a height that would make it easier for someone in a wheel chair to use (16-1/2″ to 18″)
There are many more points to consider and we advise you to check with your municipalities’ building code requirements or a design professional to ensure your space is ideal for use by a disabled person. Kitchen design offers more details on the design points to consider and we will be covering it in our next post.