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Accessible Home Design: Planning Accessible Bathrooms



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By "reversing" the plumbing wall on the bathtub, the controls become more accessible to both wheelchair users and ambulatory bathers. The conventional "single wall" plumbing arrangement locates the tub controls immediately adjacent to the toilet. This plan is more efficient for the plumber, but not for the user.

Bathrooms are compact spaces, but in spite of their size, construction can be expensive because of the high cost of plumbing fixtures and finish material. Bathrooms are also difficult to alter, so extra design time should be allocated to review needs and specifications in detail. Your bathroom’s overall size should provide sufficient space to use each fixture, operate the door, and maneuver into position to perform these activities. Alcove space that is tall enough for a wheelchair user’s knees can partially meet this requirement. This knee space can be achieved by cantilevering wall-mounted components, such as vanities or shelves.

Master baths, hall baths, and powder rooms each have different design requirements, and accessibility provisions also can vary. Each bath and toilet should be evaluated to determine the need for full or partial wheelchair access.

Master Baths
Master baths directly adjoin the bathroom or dressing room area so their privacy requirements are not stringent. Accessibility can be provided by installing  duplicate fixtures. If there are two vanity sinks, for example, one can be wheelchair accessible and one can be installed at a stand-up height. If there is a roll-in- shower, homeowners may also want a conventional bathtub.

Hall Baths
Accessibility depends on the anticipated users. If the master bath is accessible and the family’s only wheelchair user is the homeowner, a less accessible hall bath may be acceptable. On the other hand, if a family has a child with a disability, the hall bath may be the home’s primary accessible bathroom.

Powder Rooms
Accessible powder rooms should be at least 5 feet by 5 feet. This is about the same size as an accessible public restroom stall. Small powder rooms are more accessible if a pedestal or wall mounted sink is installed rather than a vanity with base

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For more in-depth information on making your home accessible, follow this link to purchase the PVA’s second edition of Accessible Home Design: Architectural Solutions for the Wheelchair User or buy it directly from Amazon.