All buildings and public facilities are regulated by laws on barrier-free accessibility, as declared in the D.P.R. 503 dated 24th July 1996. The same rules can be applied to set up an easily accessible toilet in a home, in order to simplify and make the life of family members affected by gait disorders as well as wheelchair users more comfortable. Toilets and accessories must be designed and positioned to satisfy the needs of people with impaired mobility, in this way, improving daily activities and ensuring safety in complete independence.
The rules for furnishing a bathroom for the disabled
The law establishes some rules to adequately furnish a bathroom for people with disabilities. First, the room must be large enough to provide wheelchair users with free movement. According to these requirements, footage must be equal to or greater than 16 square meters. The door must be at least 90 cm wide, with an anti-panic push bar placed less than a meter above the floor. If the bathroom, for domestic use only, does not comply with the applicable regulatory requirements, the owner is not obliged to carry out the necessary work of adaptation to standards; in this case you can buy any kind of appropriate, comfortable and easy-to-use sanitary ware (toilet, sink, shower cubicle or bathtub). A washbasin, equipped with photoelectric cell or manual lever, should be positioned in front of the toilet and completed with a grab rail in order to insure better stability to users with special needs. An emergency button is also compulsory in case of need. The mirrors (one or two) must be placed with a slight inclination, to allow a better view from a seated position.
Sanitary ware for the disabled
The toilet, in addition to being solid and resistant, must guarantee a safe sitting position because any unfortunate movement could lead to a tragic event for disabled persons. A toilet for the disabled usually have an ergonomic front opening to facilitate intimate hygiene and better distribute the weight of the body. The seat cover must be made of fireproof, anti-yellowing material (because plastic tends to turn yellow), with stainless steel hinges to avoid the risk of abrupt movement. It is advisable to install two comfortable security or support handles (also foldable) to facilitate the mobility of the elderly or disabled. All disabled bathroom equipment must be tested to withstand considerable weight and to prevent accidental falls.
Ergonomic washbasin for disabled bathrooms
If you want to set up a disabled bathroom, an ergonomic washbasin is mandatory. It should be deeper than standard washbasins and devoid of a pedestal. The suspended sink must be wall-mounted to allow greater mobility to wheelchair users, simplifying activities such as washing hands, teeth, face or combing their hair in front of the mirror. Equipped with elbow rests, ergonomic washbasins are functional and convenient products of good design. They are made of fine vitreous china and coated with an antibacterial, anti-limescale and waterproof glaze. The rectangular shape helps users to lean against or to hold on to the washbasin if necessary. Some sinks have a safety frame all around them, but in case they do not have a safety frame, it is possible to buy extra grab bars separately and install them as regulations require.
Shower stall or bathtub for physically disabled
One of the greatest personal liberties people can enjoy is cleansing their body. The same can be stated for the disabled. A good disabled bathroom must be welcoming, comfortable and well furnished. Therefore, a walk-in bathtub, made of antibacterial material, must have easy, step in access and a guaranteed leak-proof door.
As an alternative to the bathtub, customers can opt for a shower tray. In order to achieve the highest efficiency, the shower area must be equal to or greater than 0.9 square mt. It must be sufficiently large to comfortably house a bath chair (with back and arms) or a wall-mounted folding stool. According to current regulations, the shower tray must be installed at the same level as the floor and surrounded by a plastic curtain and not by glass side panels, because they could become a danger for individuals with special needs. Inside the shower area, grab rails are compulsory to ease the mobility of wheelchair users. The shelves designed to place cleansing products and toiletries must be mounted at a suitable height, easily in reach from a seated position. Regarding taps, it is advisable to install a lever mixer tap designed for disabled use and mounted at an accessible height. The floor should be slightly inclined so as to make the water flow easily into the drain, preventing overflow of water into the room. To complete the furnishings of a disabled bathroom, it is also recommended to install an emergency bell in the shower area at an appropriate height, to be used to ask for the help of a family member or medical assistant when necessary.