Whether you’re upgrading your bathroom to age in place or just trying to improve your bathroom’s functionality, following universal design guidelines can make your bathroom easier to use for everyone. Here are some things to consider when designing a bathroom to improve accessibility.
- Location & Access: Having a full bathroom that can be accessed without having to use steps as well as a door frame that is no less that 32” (or 36” if possible) is ideal
- Lighting: Make sure there is plenty of light through a combination of natural light, ambient light, and task lighting especially over the shower, sink and toilet areas. Good lighting minimizes shadows and is as glare-free as possible.
- Contrast: Contrasting colors and textures make it easier to distinguish between spaces visual and by touch.
- Floors: Floors should be durable and slip resistant. Small tiles or tiles with texture offer some slip resistance and if you’re using a bathmat, it should have slip resistant backing.
- Storage: At least half of the bathroom’s storage should be easily accessible, between 18-48” from the ground. When assessing storage be aware of how cabinet doors affect the accessibility of the room.
- Slip resistant flooring in the shower and/or tub
- Grab bars around the shower/tub to steady oneself while getting into or out of the shower and prevent falls in the shower
- A curbless shower entry or a low tub that is easier to get in and out of
- Shower seat to rest while showering
- A hand shower with a long hose for greater mobility
- Easy to reach towel racks no higher than 48" from the floor
- Faucets with lever handles which don't require you to grip a knob make it easier and quicker to control the water for your sink
- Check that the counter height is appropriate for the bathrooms users and has under sink access for wheelchair users
- Under sink plumbing wraps to protect legs if sink and counter are designed for a wheelchair to fit under
- Grab bars to assist getting up and down.
- A "comfort height" toilet or a raised toilet seat is easier to sit on and stand up from, but you should still be able to reach the floor with your feet from the toilet.