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Bathing facilities are provided for public use in a range of building types, including guest accommodation, visitor attractions and sports buildings. Bathrooms can be a particularly hazardous area for many disabled visitors and as a vital facility every effort should be made to ensure that they are as safe and accessible as possible for all.

Disabled people who need to use accessible bathrooms may include:

  • People with arthritis who may find it difficult to bend or grip
  • Hemiplegics (with paralysis down one side) who have difficulty balancing
  • Paraplegics who may have total or partial paralysis of the lower limbs and will therefore be unable to stand up without support and/or assistance
  • Tetraplegics who have either total or varying degrees of paralysis of both upper and lower limbs and who may have very weak arms. They are normally unable to stand at all and may need assistance with transfer
  • People with ataxia whose involuntary movements make them particularly vulnerable to sharp, protruding features
  • Ambulant (walking) disabled people who may need extra support
  • Blind and partially sighted people who appreciate good colour contrast and lighting and if accompanied by an assistance dog, need larger than standard compartments
  • Hearing impaired people accompanied by an assistance dog

Points to be considered include:

Toilets, Washrooms, Bathrooms

  • Emergency evacuation procedures are essential: a red emergency alarm pull cord that can be reached from the floor is recommended for visitors with varying disablilities; A fitted fire alarm requires a flashing light. For establishments who do not require a fire certificate a method of alerting visitors should be discussed
  • Ensuite to be available but if not, the bathroom must be on the same floor in close proximity (no more than 10m away) and on an accessible route that is direct and obstruction free. Where possible protruding obstructions such as fire extinguishers and radiators should be recessed
  • Bathroom doors must be able to be fully opened against the adjacent wall with a recommended clear door opening width of 850mm. Where doors open outwards a rail must be placed on the inside of the door to aid closure. Sliding doors to be considered where clear floorspace is at a minimum. The door lock should be easily operable, large fitting, with an easy to move lever and an emergency release mechanism
  • The floor must be slip resistant, if carpet is used it must be firmly fixed
  • Heating appliances and hot pipes must be protected if the visitor is in any danger, for electric heaters clear instructions for their use must be provided within the room
  • Coat hooks must be carefully sited (above or below head height) and contrast with wall finish
  • Visitors must be able to differentiate between hot and cold water taps e.g. embossed taps preferably embossed on/off and hot/cold or marked with tactile marking fluid. Where possible a contrasting background colour of taps. It is recommended that any point where hot water is delivered to have a thermostatic mixer delivering water not exceeding 41°C in temperature or an optional limiter at this temperature
  • All fixtures and fittings must have rounded edges. Contrast between fittings and fixtures and wall or floor finishes will assist in their location (avoid an all-white finish to the bathroom)
  • The spatula-shaped flush handle or button should be on the most accessible side of the toilet
  • Information provided i.e. instructions for electric heaters, should be available in alternative formats eg. large print, tactile and braille

Bath/Shower Room

  • Outside opposite door not to be less than 1200mm. 1500mm recommended
  • Unobstructed floor space clear of any door swing at least 1500mm by 1500mm
  • Washbasin (preferably adjustable in height) with 550mm maximum projection with lever taps with no more than 1/4 turn and clear under-space with no pedestal, vanity unit or boxing under washbasin. Recommended that basins have a straight not curved front when purchasing from new. It is prefered that the visitor ought to be able to reach a basin whilst sitting on the toilet or an additional small basin provided beside the toilet. Rim of washbasin to be between 720mm and 740mm above ground level as per BS 8300:2001
  • A vertical rail on both sides of the washbasin (on at least one side), 600mm long with midpoint 1100mm above floor
  • Towel rail, soap dispenser etc to be between 900mm and 1200mm from the floor within easy forward or side reach. It is recommended that they are useable with one hand
  • Direction of transfer to be consistent in the bathroom i.e. shower, toilet and bath
    If more than one accessible bathroom is provided consider installing bathroom furniture in some for left transfer and others for right transfer
  • Accessories and fittings must be between 750mm and 1200mm high
  • A tracked hoist to be provided
  • Swing top bin and/or swing top sanitary disposal bin, positioned not to impede access and transfer
  • Where a hairdryer is provided it must be near a mirror and height between 800mm and 1200mm
  • Full-length mirrors, where provided, must be of a minimum height of 400mm and a minimum top height of 1800mm. If the mirror is above a basin its lower edge must be no higher than the basin and a minimum of 1600mm high

Bath or Bath with Overhead Shower

  • Space to side of bath to be unobstructured and at least 900mm wide
  • Height from floor to bath rim between 450mm and 500mm (unless a hoist is available)
  • A clear space of at least 150mm under the bath is required for use of a mobile hoist
  • Horizontal or angled support rail opposite transfer space to bath between 150mm and 250mm above the bath rim. The rail must extend the length of the bath (600mm long at least)
  • Bathing board or seat to be provided. Where only a bath is provided, there must be some means of entering and bathing in a sitting position at rim height. A slip resistant bath or bath mat must be provided. Bath stool to be made available also
  • A slip resistant vertical rail is recommended, between 900mm and 1400mm above the bath base. Between 450mm and 600mm in length and situated towards the tap end of the bath

Shower (where provided)

  • A separate shower facility or shower room with level entry to be provided. If a shower base does not have a non-slip surface a non-slip mat must be provided. It is recommended to provide both an accessible shower and bath
  • A hinged seat (or shower wheelchair with removable arms or without arms) to be provided, with a seat height between 450mm and 500mm above the shower base. Shower wheelchair (if provided) must have the ability to be self propelled by the user, shower stool also to be available
  • Transfer space to the side of the shower seat position to be at least 900mm wide
  • Surface of seat at least 400mm by 400mm
  • Horizontal support rail opposite transfer space (to shower seat) at least 450mm long and between 200mm and 300mm above seat level (unless movable chair with removable arms is provided). Vertical rail beside the shower must be provided 800mm to 1400mm above the shower base
  • Centreline of shower seat not more than 500mm from wall opposite transfer space, this assumes the support rail will be between 350mm to 400mm from the centre line of the shower seat
  • A hinged rail on the transfer side of the seat between 350mm and 400mm from the centreline of the seat and 200mm and 300mm above the seat level (unless a shower wheelchair with removable arms is provided)
  • Lever controls or buttons provided and postioned between 900mm and 1200mm above the floor. The detachable showerhead adjustment to have the ability to be used in a standing and sitting position. Also consider providing a fixed showerhead at ceiling level. Staff to consult with the visitor for the required height. In dedicated accessible facilities the top of one showerhead adjuster rail in the sitting position must be no more than 1200mm above ground level. (BS 8300: 2001 recommend controls between 750mm and 1000mm above floor level, with shower head between 1200mm and 1400mm above floor level plus fixed head at ceiling level)
  • Shelf or soap dish to be provided for toiletries to be reached whilst in the shower in a standing and sitting position
  • A towel rail between 900mm and 1200mm, where possible in reach of the shower seat
    A warm air dryer is recommended


  • Clear transfer space to side of WC at least 900mm wide
  • Front edge of rim to project at least 750mm from back wall and recommend wall mounted WC pan
  • Centreline of WC not more than 500mm from wall opposite transfer space, unless two hinged rails are used on either side of the WC. Support rail/s to be within 350mm and 400mm of centreline
  • A seat height raiser to be available on request. Seat height to be between 450mm and 500mm with or without seat height raiser (Recommend 480mm as per BS 8300: 2001)
  • A vertical rail to the accessible side of the WC, 600mm long and top not exceeding 1400mm. This could be a hinged rail provided that this locks into position
  • A horizontal support rail opposite transfer space at least 600mm long, between 200mm and 300mm above seat level
  • A hinged rail on transfer side between 350mm and 400mm from centreline of WC and between 200mm and 300mm above seat level. This must lock into position
  • Toilet paper holder within easy forward or side reach (when sitting on WC) and useable with one hand eg. tissue dispenser
  • Wash basin to be accessible whilst sitting on WC is preferred or additional small basin to be provided beside the toilet
  • Shelf or level surface to be provided in reach from WC
  • Toilet seat to have no lid and seat to be a continuous ring
  • Vending machines height accessible and not obstructing routes or transfer


The above information was collected from the following sources:


Further information:

Other information:

  • Bright, K. Flanagan, S. Embleton, J. Selbekk, L. & Cook, G. (2004) Buildings for all to use - improving the accessibility of public buildings and environments. London: CIRIA. [accessed 23/10/15].
  • Casserley, C. (2000) Tourism and the DDA: your guide to understanding the Disability Discrimination Act. London: RNIB.
  • Department for Transport (2005) Inclusive Mobility. [accessed 23/10/15].
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (2001) FOCUS 7: Creating an Inclusive Environment.
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (2005) The Duty to Promote Disability Equality - Statutory Code of Practice.
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (2006) Code of Practice - Rights of Access: services to the public, public authority functions, private clubs and premises.
  • JMU Access Partnership (n.d.) Buildings and Internal Environments. London: RNIB.

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