We’ll address “handicap toilets” as “accessible toilets” since the terms “handicapped” and “handicap toilet” aren’t used anymore since they don’t make much sense as tall people, and the elderly can also use them for more comfort.
The accessible toilet was designed for people with mobility issues that hinder their everyday movement in different ways. These toilets provide a more effortless toilet experience to physically impaired people than regular toilets as they have rubber bars for grip, increased height, and a more comfortable seat. Accessible toilets can be installed in nearly every household.
Generally, accessible toilets are between 17 and 19 inches from the top of the seat to the floor and are higher than the standard toilet.
ADA Standards For Accessible Toilets
In 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) created a standard for accessible toilets. This law ensures that people with physical disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, including the right to heed the call of nature.
The ADA standard provides a guideline for accessible toilets. The accessible toilet standards include increased height, toilet bars, toilet paper holders, and dispensers, as well as a greater space in the area in front of the toilet so that a person might access it in a wheelchair.
Standard Accessible Toilets
There are two kinds of accessible toilets: Children’s and adult accessible toilets.
Children’s Accessible Toilets
If you’re installing an accessible toilet for children aged 3-4 years, the height of the toilet shouldn’t exceed more than 12 inches from the top of the toilet seat to the floor. If you’re installing an accessible toilet for children aged 5-8 years of age, its height shouldn’t exceed 15 inches. Accessible toilets for pre-teens aged between 9 and 12 years of age shouldn’t exceed 18 inches in height.
Finding an accessible toilet for children can be a bit tricky as most accessible toilets are designed for adults. Regular toilets that range from 14 to 17 inches can be converted to accessible toilets with a few modifications for children. If you have a regular toilet that is too low for a physically impaired child, you can purchase a 2-4 inch toilet sitting stool that can be placed below the feet or the toilet seat. To comply with further ADA requirements, you should install safety grab bars and provide enough space in front of the toilet.
Adult Accessible Toilets
According to the ADA requirements, accessible toilets should have a maximum height of 19 inches. The height of the toilet is measured from the bottom of the toilet to the top of the toilet seat. The lowest height for an accessible toilet is 17 inches.
While a couple of inches in height compared to the regular toilet might not seem much to physically fit people, physically impaired people significantly benefit from the extra height as they will have more comfort and safety. If you don’t have the means to purchase a specialized toilet, you can modify your family toilet to serve the needs of everyone.
Modifying Your Regular Toilet
If you need an accessible toilet but cannot install one, you can make some simple modifications and adjustments to make the toilet more comfortable. If there is an impaired adult in your household, you can purchase an elevated seat or a toilet seat riser to adjust the height. If you have impaired children, you can install a platform underneath the seat to lift the fixture to the required level.
You don’t have to discard your old toilet as with the proper adjustments, both impaired adults and children will be able to use it.
Besides these modifications, you can also install safety bars next to the toilet so that an impaired person can easily get out of their wheelchair and sit on the toilet with a sure grip. These bars provide a safer way to get out of a wheelchair and help people go to the bathroom on their own.
Other ADA Requirements
As we’ve mentioned, height is only a part of ADA’s requirements for accessible toilets. If you’re planning on installing one in your house or home, then you should pay attention to the following standards. These standards were created to provide a safer, easier, and more dignified toilet experience for physically impaired people.
More Front Space
According to the ADA standards, you must have a minimum of 48 inches of ground space between the two side walls and the toilet. You can create this space by placing the toilet at least 18 inches from any sidewall. The front area of the toilet standards vary by the individual’s requirements, but the standard is at least 66 inches from the back wall to the opposite bathroom wall. The extra space in front of the toilet allows individuals with wheelchairs to access the toilet and provide enough space for a caregiver to assist if needed.
Safety grab bars are one of the most useful things that can be installed in a bathroom as they can be used by most individuals that rely on aides for walking. They prevent impaired people from falling and causing injuries to themselves when strategically placed around the toilet.
Furthermore, a toilet seat with grab bars will also be handy as it will help people rotate themselves to get on and off the toilet. The safety grab bars must be placed on both sides of the walls and at the backside of the toilet. The height standard for safety grab bars is between 33 and 36 inches from the floor.
Toilet Paper Dispensers, Flusher, and Toilet Seat
While the ADA standard doesn’t require automated toilet paper dispensers, the manual states that the toilet paper or tissues should always be within reach. Auto-flushing toilets are the best, but in the case of a manual flusher, the individual should be able to flush the toilet with one hand while sitting on the toilet seat. It’s advised that the toilet seat isn’t automatic as it may spring up automatically after the toilet is flushed.
A Better Toilet Experience for Everyone
People with disabilities deserve to be able to relieve themselves like everyone else without risking their health and sanity. Accessible toilets help people with physical impairments, the elderly, and children to have a safer bathroom experience.
If you are a person that requires an accessible toilet, or if you are living with someone who does, then we strongly recommend that you follow ADA’s standards and requirements. You can also contact a plumber that has experience with these types of toilets for advice and tips on how you should proceed with the installation.