Making Your Bathrooms Wheelchair Accessible
Having a wheelchair accessible bathroom (or disabled toilet) in your premises is a fundamental and crucial part of inclusive service delivery. Under the Equality Act 2010, all organisations have a duty to provide accessible goods and services, including provision of accessible bathrooms.
Who needs an accessible toilet?
There are estimated to be 14.6 million disabled people in the UK, which represents 22% of the total population. The prevalence of disability increases with age: 9% of children in the UK are disabled, 21% of working age adults and 42% of adults over State Pension age. The majority of people aged 80+ are reported to be living with some form of disability (59%).
So, it is incredibly important to provide an accessible toilet which works for a variety of people and is suitable for a range of disabilities – you will find that a large number of visitors to your premises will need an accessible toilet.
You must also remember that accessible and disabled toilets should be open and free to use without judgement as 80% of disabled people have hidden impairments. These hidden disabilities can include (but is in no means limited to): autism; brain injuries; chronic pain; cystic fibrosis; depression and other mental illnesses; diabetes; dyspraxia; and many more.
Living with disabilities of any shape or form, whether visible or invisible, can make life more demanding for many people, affecting each person in different ways and can be painful, exhausting, and isolating.
Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom Requirements
There are many different requirements and recommendations to include within your wheelchair accessible bathroom. You’ll find that a lot of these are marked as guidance – but in order to be fully accessible and appropriate for use, it is better to take these as requirements (especially if they are something a disabled person themselves have flagged as important).
As part of good housekeeping, you should keep the following points in mind when designing your wheelchair accessible toilet:
- Accessible toilets should never be used for miscellaneous storage.
- Motion sensor lighting can be dangerous in an accessible toilet, as a disabled visitor may not have sufficient movement ability to trigger the lights to return if they go out.
- Cleaning and housekeeping staff should have induction training to ensure they know and understand the need to keep transfer zones, cistern tops, and shelving in accessible toilets clear at all times – and to never tie up alarm pull cords.
A wheelchair accessible bathroom should be home to a higher toilet pan and grab rails, fitted with shelves for colostomy and general use, and a sink or basin with lever or sensor taps for ease of use.
An emergency alarm should be fitted for assistance, and never tied up. The cord should reach the ground, and continue to be drawn across the floor long enough to reach from one end of the room to the other.
A right hand transfer is more common, but where possible you should provide the option for both left and right hand transfer. Where space is limited, you could have one bathroom with a left hand transfer, and a second bathroom with a right hand transfer (and to make options even more accessible – note on the door or wall by the toilet which stall includes which transfer option).
Additional tips for your adapted and accessible bathroom include:
- Installing a sliding door – this can create considerably more room for a wheelchair user or otherwise disabled visitor, allowing for greater mobility. If there’s no option for a sliding door, it is advisable that the door opens outwards for safety reasons.
- Non-slip flooring – this benefits everyone, not just disabled visitors. Water and other liquid spillages are common in bathrooms and can increase the chance of slipping over.
- Avoid additional bathroom furniture – Built-in or optional bathroom furniture such as under-sink units can make it difficult for disabled visitors to access your basin. Your bathroom should remain as uncluttered as possible.
Disabled Toilet Dimensions
Compulsory dimensions for a disabled toilet state that the room needs to be at least 2200mm in length and 1500mm in width. These however are just the minimum requirements, and to provide greater comfort to a wheelchair user (as well as a larger space for a larger turning circle) you should consider providing as large of a space as possible.
Wheelchair Accessible Door Width
Your disabled bathroom should include a door with a minimum width of 1000mm. This should also open outwards, to provide the best and safest entry and exit way for your disabled visitors.
Installing an appropriate accessible bathroom is incredibly important for your business, and providing accessible options for your visitors is more than just something that’s recommended.
Get in touch with Dunhams Washrooms to discuss how we can help you with the manufacturing and supply of products for your disabled bathroom installation.