What is an accessible home?

accessible home with ramp

What is ADA accessibility requirements?

In the history of mankind, homes were built to protect us from the elements and privacy. They were expected to have a roof, four walls with windows and doors. Then, as the government became more involved, for the sake of safety of the citizen, certain laws have been established, including making homes handicap accessible

The DOJ (Department of Justice) established the Americans with Disability Act, aka the ADA. Originally, with the goal to make public places more accessible and safer for Americans with disabilities. Then they expanded out into the world, requiring the same accessibility for schools and into our homes. While they have yet to make handicap accessible required for existing homes, there are policies in place for new builds and remodels. 

In 1990, the ADA became a law that prohibited the discrimination against people with disabilities. In 2010, major revisions were made to the federal law. Additionally, there are state and local laws and rules that businesses must adhere. 

Some of those laws include having handicap accessible entrance. How wide are handicap accessible doors? Handicap accessible doors must have a clearance of 32 inch width for wheelchair accessibility between the door face and the opposite side. The threshold must be no higher than half inch at handicap accessible doors and existing doors must be no higher than three-fourth of an inch and must be beveled at a maximum slope of 1:2. 

A basic overview of physical handicap accessible requirements include: 

  • Approach and entrance: In addition to doorways, this includes parking spaces, entrance to elevators, ramps, etc. 
  • Access to goods and services: Persons with disabilities should be able to access goods and services without requiring help. This includes seating in public places, elevator buttons, items on counters and shelves, self-serve foods and beverage counters, etc. 
  • Access and maneuver public restrooms: One stall should be able to accommodate wheelchair entrance, have handlebars on walls, sinks and drying appliances should be reachable by wheelchair. 
accessible tub

What is handicap accessible bathroom?

A handicap accessible bathroom should be 30” x 48” in size to allow mobility devices to each plumbing fixture with ease, including turning the wheelchair around. For wheelchair accessibility through doorways, they should be no less than 34” wide. 

There are approximately thirty million Americans in wheelchair currently, all facing challenges of being wheelchair bound. In every home, the bathroom is the most dangerous place, and with the many access challenges for a wheelchair bound person, it becomes even more dangerous. 

In the bathroom, the shower and tub are the most hazardous with the toilet coming in close second. Small area and lack or maneuverability are the number 1 cause for accidents in the bathroom. 

With these facts in mind, here is a list of 5 things that need to be considered when designing a handicap accessible bathroom:

1. Handicap Accessible Tubs and Showers 

  • Place or have installed a shower seat, fixed, or rolling, no less than 17” high, no higher than 19”. 
  • A shower without a curb for a walker or wheelchair bound person, with the opening floor level and sloping toward the drain. A minimum 36” wide to open for person using a transfer seat or 60” wide for wheelchair access and mobility. 
  • A walk-in tub allows easier access for everyone, have tub controls installed at front edge of tub. 
  • Grab bars installed in all bathing areas with two on the sidewall for standing and sitting positions. Grab bars on two walls for roll-in shower access and controls installed near grab bars.
  • A nonslip floor that is textured tile or a slatted wood over a concrete floor.
  • Anti-scald mixing water valves to for safe temperature and volume. A 120 degree limit for tub and shower is recommended. 
  • Countertop or shelving for placement of bathing products, hair care, washcloth, et cetera. Accessible ample storage for products that eliminate falling items and are easy to be reached by wheelchair bound person. 
  • Install glass doors and overhead lights in shower.
  • Shower controls installed for easy access without getting in the water. 
  • Handheld showerhead with 60” hose. 
  • Towel hook or shelf within easy reach to dry off before getting out of shower. 

 2.Bathroom Sink and Vanity Handicap Accessibility

  • Wall mounted sink without underneath cabinetry. 
  • Front of sink need 34” maximum height and 27” clearance for knees, or a sink that can be approached from side.
  • Single-handle faucets, easy to turn and adjust, handsfree is preferable. 
  • Long or tilt mirror mounted at low position.
  • Sturdy furniture or vanity that can be held on for balancing while maneuvering where grab bar isn’t available. 
  • Personal healthcare items placement within reach of wheelchair bound person. 
  • Easy access storage for curlers, hair dryers, linens, cleaning supplies, curlers, etc. 
  • Low drawers with full pull out to allow ample accessible storage.

3.Bathroom Toilet Handicap Accessibility

  • Toilet should be between 17” and 9” high. 
  • Toilet paper dispenser installed at a comfortable height toward the front of toilet. 
  • Store things that a user may need with easy access like medical equipment, sanitary products, toilet paper, and wipes. 
  • One grab bar installed to side of the toilet within 18” to fixture or wall.

4. Bathroom Lighting Handicap Accessibility

  • Position lighting so it is evenly casted without shadows, ideally natural light is best. 
  • Install light switches low for wheelchair accessibility. 
  • Extra light distributed evenly over the compete bathroom with no glare. 
  • Motion detector lighting is ideal for Handicap Accessibility, large toggle switch or push button switches.

5. General Bathroom Safety for Handicap Accessibility 

  • Bathroom should be no smaller than 30” x 48” and mobility devices at each plumbing fixture with room for wheelchair to turn around.
  • Doorway should be no less than 34” wide for  wheelchair access with lever style door handle.
  • Bathroom door should swing outward to allow ore room in the bathroom. A pocket door for small bathrooms is recommended. 
  • Keep loose bathmats off the floor.
  • Bathroom should be large enough for handicapped person and an second person for assistance. 
  • Easily accessed storage compartments with shelving that pulls out to keep clutter contained. 
  • Thoughts for easy access to accessories like paper dispense, robe hooks, soap dishes, toothbrushes, and towel bars.
  • GFCI electrical outlets in lower position.  

Everyone in every home can’t all accommodate handicap accessible living, but we can try to make as many handicap accessible homes as possible, especially where there are handicapped occupants.  So, how do I make my home disabled friendly? There are several ways to make a home handicap accessible, some will require remodeling, others are just a matter of thinking it through. 

  • Entry Points: Eliminate or Modify Steps
  • First-Floor Bathroom & Bedroom
  • Widen Doorways & Hallways
  • Retrofit Your Bathroom
  • Install Adequate Lighting
  • Consider all Obstacles

Research and seek any possible assistance to pay for the remodeling you may need to do. Grants for creating a handicap accessible home aren’t guaranteed, just like education grants. Present your needs in a well-documented  your needs and completely and thorough fill out any paperwork required including detail on how the grant money will help with the needed changes, crucial to the handicap person’s lifestyle. Call (972) 695-3027 today for your accessible tub installation in Bartonville, TX.