Universal Design Considerations for the Bath
There are a great many and varied universal design modifications that you can make to your home. Well planned ones are what make the universally designed home a success compared to than a conventionally designed home with a lot of band-aids added as age progresses or as disabilities arise. Well-thought, built-in elements keep the users from feeling like their home is turning into a hospital. Imagine a plastic chair added to your shower instead of an attractive built in shower seat. Aging people or people with disabilities have the most trouble in the more hard-working and utilitarian areas of the home — the kitchen and bath.
Below are some considerations for the bath as you renovate your home with universal needs in mind.
Balance Bars – also known as grab bars these are stability handles that are installed in showers and around toilets.
Built-in Balance Bars:
The bars below were clearly a consideration from the very outset of the design.
Retrofit Balance bars:
These balance bars were added as an afterthought. While they are utilitarian, they also cheapen the look and design of the room that they are used in. Why hire a designer if down the road, you may have to mar your lovely investment with band-aids like these?
Wet Rooms and European Showers
Barrier free showers are important for universally designed bathrooms. Below we show an instance of a European shower — a shower that one could roll into if need be; and an instance of a wet room — a fully tiled room with minimal barriers and drainage on the floor. The wet room shown below features both a shower and a tub so that small children can still have tubby time.
Less than ideal bathing solutions are the walk out tub and (again) the cheap, unattractive retrofits for added accessibility. While walk out tubs seem like comfortable and clever solutions, this poor lady is going to have to sit there, getting cold while she waits for her ultra deep tub to drain before she can open the door to exit and towel off.
Ergonomics is key when it comes to faucet handles, door knobs and drawer pulls. Someone with poor dexerity or arthritis could have trouble with a turn-knob faucet handle. Virtually anyone would be able could use a paddle handle or a lever style handle on their faucet.
Roll Up & Wall Mounted Sinks
Persons who rely on wheelchairs or walkers will find ease of use in wall mounted and roll up sinks. A well designed bathroom will do well to specify a sink and faucet which is usable for the widest range of users.
Floor Level Lighting
No one likes having to flick on the bright lights in the bathroom when making a midnight visit. Floor level lighting like that shown below would be enough lighting to keep anyone from staying too far from slumber. Some people would find it useful when taking care to avoid obstacles in the room.
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