How to Build a Wheelchair Accessible Shower
Barrier free showers are also known as handicap showers, accessible shower or roll in showers. Such a facility should be as the name says it, without barriers that can block the access of people with disability caused by handicaps, illnesses or birth defects.
As the owner or administrator of a location that is likely to host persons with motor disabilities, you should be aware that regulations can mandate you to install an ADA shower. ADA showers are facilities which can be used by people with various degrees of motor handicap, and especially people immobilized in wheel chairs. The name comes from the legislation passed in 1990 by the American government, called American with Disabilities Act. The law called for public institutions to accommodate the needs of disabled persons, by providing things like handicap showers. People who move in wheel chairs need to be able to move in and out of the shower with ease and not be incommoded by the features of the cabin, hence the name roll in shower.
Classical shower cabins have floors that are sloped towards a central drainage. Persons with disabilities can have problems moving with their wheel chair in the cabin and also are in danger of being immobilized in the shower pan, due to its construction. Accessible showers on the other hand should facilitate the access of people in wheelchairs and allow them to easily move out when they are done showering.
Wheelchair accessible showers need to have a floor that is sloped at a gentle gradient, as closed as possible to horizontal. This is a concept of universal design, a design philosophy that states that objects should be easily accessible to both disabled and able persons.
Another critical aspect of an ADA shower is the drainage. In a non ADA shower, the drainage is usually placed in the center of the shower cabin. The wheelchair of an immobilized person can get stuck if one wheel is blocked on the drainage. To avoid this problem, handicap showers are fitted with linear drains that are placed sideways, so they don’t bother people in wheelchairs.
ADA showers also have a flat profile drainage system. The drainage doesn’t extend over the surface it’s built in, nor is depressed. This ensures that a disabled person won’t have trouble entering or leaving the shower cabin.
Even though legislation doesn’t require that you build special handicap showers, it’s still a good idea to accommodate for the needs of disabled persons. This will improve your reputation, and ensure that people with disabilities will continue to visit your establishment.
In this article Jonathon Blocker writes about
handicap showers and accessible showers