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Designing a Universal Bathroom

Universal design bathrooms are built to insure that all who use them can do so with safety, maneuverability, and convenience. They are accessible to those with all levels of physical ability, including those with limited mobility or poor eyesight. This makes them particularly useful for the elderly or chronically ill, even if they are confined to a wheelchair.

If you are thinking of installing a universal design bathroom in your house, consider the following:

  • Hinged doors that swing open are a problem for those in a wheel chair. Pocket doors are a better choice.
  • Sinks should have lever style faucets because they are easier to use. The sink should be installed at a height that is comfortable for someone in a wheelchair and include enough knee room under the sink to allow them to get close.
  • Grab bars should be installed next to the toilet. Special toilets that are higher are easier for those with limited mobility to use; you can also use a conventional toilet with a raised seat. Grab bars also reduce the risk of slipping when entering or leaving the tub or shower. Those who cannot step over the rim of a regular tub should consider a walk in tub.
  • There are two types of showers used in the universal design bathroom. Those who can leave a wheelchair can move onto a seat built into the shower area. A roll in shower with a flat threshold is necessary for those who need to stay in a wheelchair. Both tubs bottoms and shower floors need to be non-slip. Faucets should have scald protection features.
  • Lighting should be bright in every part of the bathroom, including the shower area. A light switch outside the bathroom door is also very helpful.

  • A 60 inch clear circle in the center of the bathroom is necessary for a person in a wheelchair to completely turn around.

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