Remodeling your home to make it wheelchair accessible can be quite time consuming. Before diving into the project one has to ensure that adequate research has been done on the types of modifications needed for your home. Accessible University provides a detailed list (room by room) of modifications that can improve accessibility in your home.
Bathrooms can require many modifications for accessibility including the shower, sink, toilet, and doorways. It is important to make sure there is enough space within the bathroom when planning for these modifications.
The shower can be the most challenging accessibility feature due to the threshold to the tub and/or shower. The solution to this problem depends on the individual’s ability to transfer whether independently or with a caregiver. It is best to consult with an occupational therapist to determine what modifications will work best for you. The typical arrangements are a roll in shower space or a wet room.
Roll In/Transfer Shower Space
The optimal shower space is 60”x60”, but the size of space can differ depending on your ability to transfer. There should be a 5'x5' turning space outside the shower threshold, which can include shower space as well.
If there is not enough space available, a standard tub 30”x60” in size may be enough. However, make sure there is another 6” of adjacent space to accommodate any necessary equipment. If you are transferring independently a 36”x36” minimum enclosure can possibly work if you use a permanent shower seat and grab bars placed at the appropriate height.
A wet room is a room with no thresholds where everything can safely get wet.
“A wet room has two main advantages: a wheelchair user can move freely throughout the space, and a fully accessible shower space can be created using a much smaller square footage.”
Some of Accessible University’s suggestions for a wet room are:
Floors that are sloped downward at a ratio of ⅛” per foot of floor space.
HVAC systems must be moved off the floor and have water resistant covers.
Switches and receptacles must be placed beyond a 3’11” spray zone from the water source. Coverings for switches should be exterior grade (water resistant).
Shower hardware such as a telescoping shower head attached to a vertical slide bar featuring single lever temperature and flow control is ideal for accessibility. A 59” hose is recommended. Grab bars are also recommended as an accessibility modification. A occupational therapist can assist with determining the correct height and placement of the bar as what works best for the individual.
Interior doors with 36” of clearance for the doorway works best for the bathroom. Accessible University suggests pocket or barn doors as opposed to traditional doors since bathroom doors usually open up into hallways.
Accessible University states that a sink should be 6” deep and mounted 34” high for optimal accessibility. Roll under sinks should be at least 29” high and 36” wide. However, an individual can request different measurements as dimensions will vary from person to person.
Toilet accessibility will vary based on the individual’s needs. When choosing a toilet, take into consideration the height of the toilet and whether or not a commode chair is required.
A few general modifications listed by Accessible University for toilet area:
Toilets can be installed to feature 36”-39” transfer space to the side of the toilet.
There should be a minimum of 30” clearance and an adjacent 5’x5’ turning circle for positioning in front of toilet.
The centreline of the toilet must be 18” from any adjacent wall to allow for grab bar-mounting.
Be sure to check out the full article for more in-depth details. Share this story with someone who is remodeling a home to be wheelchair accessible!