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Designing an accessible washroom requires a thorough understanding of the specific requirements and guidelines for accessibility. Unfortunately, some designers and contractors are at risk as they may overlook some seemingly minor features that could result in a non-compliant accessible washroom.
Dolphin Solutions supplies prestige washroom products including compliant Doc M packs and Doc M grab rails and we have witnessed some common mistakes in wheelchair washroom designs, including the absence of waste bins, incorrect positioning of fixtures, and inadequate space.
In this article, we will highlight what badly designed and non-compliant accessible washrooms look like and other non-compliant features to be aware of, such as poor lighting and inaccessible fixtures. We will also provide you with an accessible washroom checklist for WC corner layouts that will help you identify the essential items, including their dimensions, required for a compliant accessible washroom.
Common accessible washroom features that could be missing or should be improved upon
It is possible for designers and contractors to miss out on some important fixtures when designing an accessible washroom, especially if they are not knowledgeable about the specific requirements and guidelines for accessible washroom design in the UK.
Even seemingly minor features can lead to non-compliant accessible washrooms if common features are overlooked. Here are some mistakes we have witnessed that may not have been considered during the accessible washroom design phase:
- A standard WC pan is installed which projects 540mm. This is not compliant. A compliant wheelchair WC pan projects 750mm from the back of the wall.
- There is only a sanitary bin but no waste bin.
- Flush handle is on the wrong side (it should be on the same side as the wheelchair transfer side).
- Basin mounted tap is positioned further away from the WC on the opposite side of the basin. It should be placed on the side of the hand rinse basin closest to the WC.
- Only an automatic hand dryer is installed. One hand dryer does not compensate for a missing paper towel dispenser.
- The emergency alarm pull cord is tied up. If a user fell on the floor, it may be very difficult for them to get hold of the red bangles.
- Only one mirror above the basin. There should also be a full length mirror in an accessible washroom and should be at least 1000mm tall and have its bottom edge set at maximum 600mm above the finished floor level.
- No coat hooks. One should be mounted at 1050mm and the other at 1400mm above the floor.
- Size of the accessible washroom dimensions may be correct, but the appliances are not placed in the correct positions, nor are they compliant with the dimensions for Doc M fittings.
- No grab rail on the back of the door.
- Overall user experience is inadequate.
10 common accessible design problems
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Non-compliant accessible washrooms may have one or several features that do not meet the accessible toilet regulations and accessible toilet standards such as BS8300. Here are a few examples of other factors that contribute to a non-compliant accessible washroom:
Accessible washrooms should provide enough space for a wheelchair user to manoeuvre comfortably. A non-compliant accessible washroom may be too small or have obstacles that make it difficult for a wheelchair user to enter and exit.
Inadequate grab rails
Accessible washrooms should have grab rails that are positioned correctly and securely attached to the walls. Non-compliant accessible washrooms may have grab rails that are positioned too high, too low, in the wrong place, or simply missing from what is supposed to be included in a Doc M pack.
Lack of emergency alarm and alarm pull cord
Accessible washrooms should have an emergency alarm that can be easily activated by a person in distress. A non-compliant accessible washroom may not have an alarm, or the alarm pull cord may be difficult to locate or use.
Accessible washrooms should be well lit to enable users to see clearly. Non-compliant accessible washrooms may have insufficient lighting, making it difficult for users to see or navigate the space.
Accessible toilet cubicles should have fixtures, such as taps, soap dispensers, paper towels, toilet tissue dispensers, hand rinse basins, etc. that can be easily reached and operated by a person with limited mobility or when in a seated position. A non-compliant accessible washroom may have fixtures that are too high, too far away for a wheelchair user to reach or are manufactured with incorrect dimensions.
It is important to understand that non-compliant accessible washrooms can be a significant barrier for people with disabilities and can prevent them from using public facilities independently and safely.
How to avoid the risk of non-compliance for wheelchair accessible toilets
Designing wheelchair accessible toilets requires careful attention to detail and adherence to specific requirements and guidelines for accessibility. Even minor oversights in the design process can result in a non-compliant accessible washroom, causing significant barriers for people with disabilities.
It is crucial for designers and contractors to be aware of common mistakes, such as the absence of waste bins, incorrect positioning of fixtures, and inadequate space. In addition to these, non-compliant accessible washrooms may have other features that do not meet the Building Regulations Document M or British Standards, including insufficient grab rails, poor lighting, and inaccessible fixtures.
We recommend downloading and using our accessible washroom checklist for WC corner layouts to ensure your washroom meets the necessary UK accessibility regulations and standards so that you may avoid common oversights resulting in the risk of non-compliance. Designing compliant and user-friendly accessible washrooms can help create a more inclusive and welcoming environment, providing independent and safe use for all users.
Download our Accessible Washroom Checklist for WC Corner Layouts
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