Designing handicap bathrooms for special needs children requires specific configurations. Regardless of whether you’re building from the ground up or trying to convert an existing bathroom into one that will accommodate physical disabilities, there are certain requirements that you must adhere to.
A quick online search will turn up the many products available for handicap bathrooms, complete with specifications for construction and installation.
Decorating bathrooms to accommodate physical disabilities is no different from decorating any other room when it comes to making it a personal space.
The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice style; features such as walk-in showers, bathroom safety rails, and elevated toilets, can all be integrated into any theme – be it whimsical or traditional.
So go ahead and use color; the more you decorate around the handicap features, the less noticeable they’ll be.
Decide on a theme with your child then take into consideration the expense of adding the special features.
Bathroom safety rails, walk-in showers, tubs with seating – these can be costly items to replace, so don’t go overboard trying to make them disappear into your theme; painting bathroom safety rails to look like candy canes or the toilet to look like a captain’s cockpit in an airplane, may be exciting from a themed standpoint, but probably won’t be too appealing once your child grows into a teen and then an adult.
Instead, decorate around them; keep the safety measures free of paint and easy to locate should an emergency arise. Use the walls and accessories to create your ambience.
When decorating bathrooms for wheelchair-bound children, the floor can be a problem. It’s a large expanse that has to remain unencumbered (no rugs or bath mats) to accommodate the wheelchair. But there are ways to bring it into the décor and keep it from looking bare.
Most little boys are captivated by trains and planes, so why not turn their bathroom into a train station or airport. Paint railroad tracks on the floor at the entry to the doorway taking care to make them the same width as the wheels to the wheelchair, then let the tracks lead to the tub, shower and sink area. (If he prefers airplanes, replace the train-tracks with an airport runway). Paint a railroad crossing sign on the wall near an outlet and attach red blinking holiday lights to the top of the sign. Finish out the walls in varying countryside scenery – trees, houses, dogs, cats. Let him decide on the scenery.
For girls, a Wizard of Oz theme transforms a dull bathroom into an explosion of color. Paint a yellow brick road leading to the shower or tub area, then using paint formulated for ceramics, create a gorgeous rainbow in the shower at the end of the road. Paint the ceiling light blue with white puffy clouds. The walls can be anything from sunflowers to daffodils and Tulips. Don’t forget to add the cowardly lion, the scarecrow and the tin man, and of course, those ruby red slippers.
Although you want to make their handicap bathrooms “wow,” safety has to come first.
• Make sure your doorways have an opening of 32 inches or more to allow for wheelchair access.
• Remove vanity cabinets under the sink to accommodate knee-space.
• Raise or lower vanities to the proper height for your child to accommodate his physical disabilities.
• Use door locks that can be opened from both inside and outside the bathroom.
• Don’t use raised doorway thresholds. The doorway should be even with the rest of the flooring.
• Provide plenty of room for maneuvering the wheelchair; usually a five or six foot radius is sufficient.
• Install seating in the bathtub or shower area.
• Bathroom safety rails are needed in the shower and beside the toilet.
• Install elevated toilets for ease in transitioning from the wheelchair.
• Place shelving at a height that is accessible for the child so that he doesn’t have to strain or reach.
• Flooring must be anti-slip. Concrete flooring painted with an anti-slip coating is a good choice, as are wood floors with non-skid coating.
• Outlets must be GFI (grounded) and at a height accessible for the use of grooming appliances.
Your child’s imagination is his only limitation. You want him to feel different only because he has a really cool bathroom – not because he has physical disabilities.