Classic bathroom design often creates barriers for many people - those who are ill, injured, elderly, handicapped, for kids and peoples who are otherwise restricted. The goal of universal design is to make the bathroom space usable for everyone. Even if no one in your family currently requires special accommodations, designing your new bathroom so it will meet both the current and future needs of everyone in the household is easier to do now, as you remodel, than later.
Features of an Accessible Bathroom:
- An anti-scald thermostat valve to maintain the shower water at a constant temperature.
- Single-lever, wing-blade, or motion-sensing faucets for people who have limited hand strength or who need a free hand to lean on a walker or cane.
- Grab bars for people who are unsteady on their feet.
- A mirror that extends down to the backsplash so that children and seated adults can see it when using the sink.
- An adjustable showerhead for people of different heights. A handheld showerhead is convenient for cleaning young children and makes it possible to avoid wetting a bandage, cast, hairdo, or anything else that needs to remain dry.
- Pocket doors instead of hinged ones. They save space, and they are easier for someone in a wheelchair to open. If you install hinged doors, make sure they swing out, rather than into the room.
- Shatterproof materials and slip-resistant flooring.
If someone in a wheelchair will be using the bathroom regularly, create a barrier-free space using accessible-design principles. Accessible design conforms to standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prescribes specific heights, clearances, and room dimensions to accommodate people in wheelchairs. Openings and doorways should be at least 32 inches wide, and inside the room there should be a clear area at least 5 feet in diameter. The shower should be curbless, and the toilet 18 inches high with extended flush handles. The sink must have enough legroom below it for a seated person, and pipes under the sink should be insulated to prevent burns. Handles, switches, and regularly used storage areas should be no higher than 48 inches from the floor. You'll need more floor space for an accessible-design bath than you would for a conventional one.