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An accessible toilet is designed to accommodate people with physical disabilities, such as age related limited mobility, inability to walk due to impairments, or lost stamina. Accessible toilets are often used by people with decreased strength in lower extremities as higher and a more convenient height bowl makes it easier for persons who have difficulty standing up independently. Additional measures to add bathroom accessibility are providing more space and grab bars to ease transfer to and from the toilet seat, including enough room for a caregiver if necessary. Some countries have requirements concerning the accessibility of public toilets. Toilets in private homes can be modified to increase accessibility.
Public toilets (aka restrooms) can present accessibility challenges for people with disabilities. For example, stalls may not be able to fit a wheelchair, and transferring between the wheelchair and the toilet seat may pose a challenge. Accessible toilets (handicapped bathrooms) are designed to address these issues by providing more space and bars for users to grab and hold during transfers, and space for an assistant if necessary.
Toilets in private homes can be modified to increase accessibility; this is one of the skills of an occupational therapist. Common modifications include: adding a raised toilet seat on top of a standard toilet, installing a taller and more convenient height toilet bowl, attaching a frame or grab bars, and ensuring the toilet paper is within reach and can be detached with one hand. These modifications can enable aging in place for seniors who wish to remain in their homes and communities.
The U.S. Department of Justice published revised regulations for Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 "ADA" in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010. These regulations adopted revised, enforceable accessibility standards called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design "2010 Standards" or "Standards". The 2010 Standards set minimum requirements – both scoping and technical – for newly designed and constructed or altered State and local government facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. According to ADA the height of toilet bowl shall be 17 inches (430 mm) at a minimum when measured from the floor to the top of the toilet seat. Flush controls shall be hand operated or automatic mounted on the wide side of the toilet area and easily reached and operated. Additionally, there is are important ADA requirement of clear floor space at water closet rooms. The following recommendations are becoming more common in public toilet facilities, as part of a trend towards universal design:
- a wheelchair-height toilet, to help the user on and off the toilet, with handles (grab bars);
- a bathroom emergency pullstring, in the form of a red cord that reaches the ground, connected to a buzzer and a flashing red light;
- a wheelchair-height sink and hand dryer;
- a wheelchair-width door;
- additional options to upgrade a toilet are pit latrines that include a moveable wood seat with support bars.
Accessible toilets need larger floor space than other cubicles to allow space for a wheelchair to maneuver. This space is also useful for people who are not necessarily wheelchair users, but still need physical support from someone else. A wheelchair-height changing table is also recommended, but remains rarely available. Accessible changing tables are low and accessible to a wheelchair user, and long enough for a caretaker to change an older child or adult with a disability.
The main purpose of the extra tall bowl toilet is to help standing up and sitting down easier. Bathroom designers, residential and commercial building architects and toilet manufacturers are starting to recognize the importance of the appropriate height toilet. Wisconsin based Kohler company has a line of products named Comfort Height®, with toilet height of 17 inches. American Standard based in Piscataway, NJ has a toilet product line called Right Height™ of 16-1/2” rim height. Convenient Height Company from Massachusetts produces Convenient Height™ toilets with 20 inch height toilet bowls. The taller than standard and added height toilets are becoming popular when retrofitting homes to become more accessible.
Overhead mobile support bars in an accessible public toilet in Frankfurt, Germany.
Society and culture
Some countries have requirements concerning the accessibility of public toilets. In the United States, most new construction for public use must be built to Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 standards. In the United Kingdom, the Equality Act 2010 requires organizations and businesses to make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
- Accessible bathtub
- Accessible housing
- Transfer bench
- Unisex public toilet
- Visitability, proposed design standards for all new housing
- "Home Modifications and Occupational Therapy". www.aota.org. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
- United Nations Enable Programme
- UK Charity Mencap campaign "Changing places, changing lives"
- UK Charity Crohns and Colitis UK campaign "Accessible Toilet Signs: Not every disability is visable"