Toilets, transfer bars, and why we hate it when non-disabled people use our stalls!

Posted under: Accessibility

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What does a barrier-free toilet look like? That depends on what the barriers are for any particular individual. For those of us who can’t bend our knees much, or at all, and for people transferring from wheelhchairs or scooters, an accessible toilet seat is high – maybe 18 or 19 inches from the floor. For a Little Person an accessible toilet might be really low – maybe 12 inches from the floor. An average toilet is 14 inches high, and for the majority of the world, that works fine. For a bunch of us, it doesn’t work at all, and we really need our accessible seats.

One feature that makes a toilet accessible is the transfer bars. There’s supposed to be two horizontal bars – one is right next to the toilet, and on a wall that is close to the side of the toilet seat. The centre of the toilet seat is supposed to be about 27 inches from the wall – that’s the CENTRE, not the side! That 27 inches includes half the toilet seat plus the horizontal bar that is supposed to be about one and a half inches across, and not more than one and a half inches from the wall. (These measurements are all approximate, because the exact measures are in millimeters. If you need to have it exact, call me.) The other side of the toilet is supposed to be clear space – no trashcans, sanitary disposal boxes, chairs, etc. in the way! This space should be about 3 feet wide and 5 feet long, at a minimum, to allow the person to fit a wheelchair next to the toilet.

The way we use these bars, is we back the the chair in next to the toilet, reach across to grab the bar, and pull ourselves onto the toilet seat. If the bar is not horizontal and right next to the toilet, it’s useless. There should be another horizontal bar behind the toilet at the same height as the first one – between 30 and 34 inches from the floor. The only exception to this is if the toilet is being installed for assistance to a Little Person, in which case the bars should be about 24 inches high.
There’s a lot more to write about toilets and bars, but that’s it for today.


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