We deserve to feel safe and comfortable in every part of our home, particularly in the bathroom, the space where we’re at our most vulnerable.
But for people who live with physical disabilities, the bathroom can be a tricky, even treacherous place. Showers are too slippery. Sinks and toilets can be too high. Mirrors are off limits. And the entire layout of the bathroom can make it difficult to move around.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways you can design your bathroom so that it accommodates everyone. In this week’s blog post, we’ll look at some of the basics of installing a wheelchair accessible sink and vanity.
Vanities and countertops
In order to accommodate a wheelchair accessible sink and vanity, bathrooms should have:
- Countertops that go no higher than 30 to 32 inches on the top side, and no higher than 29 inches on the underside for people using wheelchairs
- Have an opening beneath the sink of at least 32 inches wide to accommodate wheelchair users
- Counters with a depth of no more than 21 inches to make it easy to reach from the front
Drop-in sinks can work as long as their drain pipe doesn’t hinder wheelchair users from approaching and using the sink. Cover drain pipes with an insulated heat guard to protect against burns.
Make sure drawers and cabinets are easy to open by installing C-shaped handles or magnetic touch latches, as this can help people with limited hand strength or mobility.
Installing a wheelchair accessible sink and vanity means making sure people can both reach the sink and use it when they get there.
Some options include:
- Single-lever faucets instead of double-handle style – one lever for hot water, one for cold – to make operating the sink easier.
- Motion sensor faucets can make using the sink even easier if the person in question has limited hand or arm strength. The water should flow for at least 10 seconds following activation before shutting off.
- Installing a pull-out sprayer with the faucet allows users to wash their hair without having to worry about getting into the tub or shower.
According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the operating components of a faucet must be no higher than four feet off the ground if the area is clear of obstructions.
When putting a mirror atop a wheelchair accessible sink and vanity, make sure the bottom of the mirror sits no more than 40 inches from the floor. A tilted mirror is often the best option for people who use wheelchairs, as they can be adjusted to the correct height for each user.
When installing a mirror wall cabinet, make sure the cabinet is low enough so that wheelchair users don’t have to reach to access the interior.
We should note that the ADA isn’t a one-size-fits-all piece of legislation. While its guidelines are useful, it’s important to consult with the person who has the disability about what works best for them in order to create a bathroom in which they feel safe and comfortable.
Do you need help making your bathroom safer? Contact Accessibility Modifications Solutions. Our handicap bathroom experts can look at your home and work with you to make the changes you need to feel more at home in this vital part of your house.