Sometimes the physically able-bodied forget what life must be like for a disabled individual. Even a simple task like taking a shower can be so frustrating. They would have trouble reaching anything in a normal shower.
During showering time, they get tired and there is no place to sit. Their options are to sit on the wet cold floor, shower bench or plastic shower chairs. The bench and chair are both good options but this means standing up to reach for the shower heads and shower handles to adjust the water. They will most likely need assistance, which limits their independence and privacy. By installing an accessible shower, these seemingly simple tasks will be so much easier for your loved one.
Universally Designed Showers for Everyone
Did you know that accessible showers are universally designed? This means anyone can benefit from their functions and not feel hindered. However, it is important to know the needs of individual and what kind of accessible shower will work for them.
Consider the particular needs of the disabled individual that the shower is designed for.
- Are they completely wheelchair dependent, thus requiring a roll-in shower?
- Or, are they able to transfer from a wheelchair to a seat, therefore allowing them to use a transfer shower?
- Or are they sick of the shower curbs that create a dangerous situation when trying to climb over it?
- Do they need a place to put their shampoos, brushes and soaps like on shower stands?
These are universally designed showers that are not just for the physically handicapped but for anyone with a desire to increase the safety, comfort and the look of their shower. A low shower threshold can be a welcome addition to any shower stall.
If you are adapting an existing bathroom, you will need to be conscious of the space that you have available as this will also affect your choice of shower. It may not be practical to install a shower enclosure that a wheelchair can fit into, but takes up so much space that the wheelchair cannot maneuver in the bathroom. So you plan ahead for the wheelchair spacing in the bathroom.
ADA Accessible Showers Guidelines
While handicap accessible showers within a private home are not required to meet ADA standards, it is good to be aware of these since they are designed to offer a high level of maneuverability and safety to the user. Grab bars should be 1-1/4” to 1-1/2” in diameter and be mounted 33” to 36” above the floor. Seats should be mounted 17” to 19” above the floor and should be the full depth of the enclosure. Both seats and shower grab bars should be able to take the force of 250 lbs. Controls should be easily accessible from a sitting position and should to be easy to use with one hand. The shower head should be able to double as a fixed and hand-held unit. It’s also important that the flooring be slip-resistant. You can check ADA federal requirements website for more specific measurements. Many pre-manufactured accessible showers are already designed to meet these requirements.
We have heard the case for handicapped accessible showers for the disabled but did you know they can actually make your bathroom appear larger? The main selling point was wheelchair accessibility but they can also be perfect for bathroom remodeling. Imagine how much bathroom space will open up without a shower curb obstructing the view.
So whether you have moved into a new home, someone in the family has been injured, or maybe you yourself need a little more assistance than you did in the past, the shower can still be a comforting and private place for each member of the family to relax and enjoy.