Have you ever heard of the concept of visitability?

It was an idea conceived in the US in the late 80’s to promote the designing and building of houses with basic accessibility throughout the main floor.

The visitable home is characterized by three key features:

  1. At least one no-step entrance into the house
  2. All doorways and hallways must be wider for clear passage throughout the main floor
  3. One wheelchair accessible bathroom on the main floor

Incorporating these three features does not make a house universal design but it will make it somewhat more accessible. It will allow friends and family with a disability to get into your home; therefore making it “visitable”.

The importance of the accessible main floor bathroom

You need an accessible bathroom in order for your guests to enjoy spending time visiting you and not having to worry if and when nature calls.

This bathroom will also give you great flexibility in the future. If there came a time when you were only able to live on the main level of your home, you would need a bathroom with all the bells and whistles.

So why not put it in now and start enjoying it straight away? It will be one less thing to worry about down the road.

What your accessible bathroom should include

  • A shower and/or bath with either or both being accessible. This means a large curb-less shower big enough for a wheelchair or a walk-in bathtub.
  • A sink that a wheelchair can roll under. With storage off to one side.
  • Lever-handle faucets on sinks and in shower/tub area. Include anti-scald controls too.
  • A clear floor space (circle) of 60in/1.5m for wheelchair maneuvering.
  • A comfort height toilet. This is a few inches higher than the standard height.
  • Grab-bars. A few installed now will increase the safety factor and convenience.
  • Good lighting. Including bright overhead and vanity lights.

Bathroom door safety. In this potentially slippery room you could install a door that can be unlocked from the outside and that swings open out of the room. This way the hinges can be easily removed in an emergency if somebody falls against the door and you need to reach them.

For more information on visitable houses visit here.

Action plan

If you are designing  or renovating a new home, take a look at your plans and make sure you have included a well thought-out accessible main floor bathroom.

If you are at the stage where you can make changes to your home and are interested in improving it’s useability, follow these links:

Top universal design tips for the bathroom.

What is universal design? Why is it so important to you?

A welcoming front entrance.

15 ways to use universal design in your kitchen.