Accessible Toilet Checklist: A guide to designing a wheelchair-friendly loo

Accessible Toilet Checklist: A guide to designing a wheelchair-friendly loo

3 min read

Disclaimer: I am not a professional with regards to the specifications for accessible toilets. However, based on personal experience as a mobility aid user, I consider the criteria below important. The information in this post should serve as a guide in combination with advice from an expert in this field.

Accessible toilets are an absolute necessity for many people living with a disability. A crucial part of inclusive spaces, their design features allow wheelchair users and individuals with a range of (physical) disabilities to use the toilet as independently and safely as possible. 

Below you’ll find an Accessible Toilet Checklist with some important things to consider when designing a wheelchair-friendly toilet. 

But first: Who are accessible toilets made for?

  • Wheelchair users
  • Individuals with mobility impairments
  • People with bowel and/or bladder conditions
  • People with balance issues, grip issues, or other conditions that make support rails useful
  • People with a range of invisible disabilities who also need to use the facilities
  • … and more

ACCESSIBLE TOILET CHECKLIST

Entrance

  • Is the doorway wide enough for a wheelchair user to pass through? (min. 80 cm / 32 inches wide)
  • Is the doorway threshold-free?
  • Is the door lightweight?
  • Does the door have a horizontal bar across the inside (along its full width) to help close it?
  • Does the door open outwards, allowing safe and easy access in an emergency?

Support

  • Are there grab rails on both sides of the toilet?
  • Is the toilet seat elevated?

Amenities

  • Is the mirror low enough for wheelchair users?
  • Is the sink low enough for wheelchair users?
  • Is the soap dispenser within reach for wheelchair users?
  • Is the paper towel dispenser/ hand dryer within reach for wheelchair users?
  • Is the bin within reach for wheelchair users?
  • Is the toilet paper within easy reach when seated on the toilet?
  • Is the paper towel dispenser/ hand dryer close enough to the sink and bin (so that users don't have to use wet hands on their mobility aids to move between the two)?
TIP: If you’re in doubt about any of the answers to the above questions, I recommend sitting in a (wheel)chair and testing it out for yourself. 

Design

  • Is the tap a design that doesn't require much force to operate?
  • Is the tap a design that can be used with a closed fist? (Tip: Use a lever design)
  • Is the bin a design that doesn't require much force to operate?
  • Is the bin a design that can be used with a closed fist?
  • The bin does not require the use of feet/ legs to operate (i.e. it is not a foot pedal bin).
  • The bin is large enough to dispose of diapers, stoma bags or other larger waste/ sanitary items.

Space

  • Is the toilet spacious enough to turn at least 1.5 m full circle in a wheelchair?
  • Is the space underneath the sink free, allowing a wheelchair user to roll right up to it?
  • The accessible toilet is not being used for storage space.

Safety features

  • Is there an emergency alarm cord inside the toilet?
  • Does the emergency alarm cord go around the whole parameter of the accessible toilet?
  • Is the emergency alarm cord strung along the wall approx. 40 cm from the ground?
  • Is the emergency alarm cord system fully functioning?
  • Are staff members well-trained in responding to the emergency alarm system?

Signposting

  • Is the way to the accessible toilet clearly signposted with a wheelchair icon?
  • Is the door to the accessible toilet clearly signposted with a wheelchair icon?
  • Is all signposting clearly visible from afar?

Useful Resources

Tip: accessaloo, an app putting wheelchair-friendly loos on the map   

accessaloo is a new app (2019) that allows users to share information and locate accessible toilets around the globe. Click here to go to the accessaloo website, or download the app directly from the App Store or Google Play

Click here to go to Able Amsterdam’s Accessible Toilet Directory.

Click here for a related blog post: “What makes a toilet accessible?  Important features of a wheelchair-friendly loo”

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Josephine Rees

My name is Josephine Rees (1993) and I am Dutch-British. I was raised in Tokyo and Moscow and moved to The Netherlands to study Anthropology & Human Geography in 2012. After briefly living in Thailand and Cambodia, I am now based in Amsterdam. I love exploring this beautiful city and hope to help others by sharing exciting accessibility tips.

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