How to Create the Ideal Disabled Bathroom

A disabled bathroom is primarily designed to allow less mobile, disabled or wheelchair users as much independence and ease of washing as is possible. Whilst this is no doubt the most important aspect, addressing the aesthetic design has a great positive impact for users.

By answering the questions below, this article addresses key requirements needed to ensure a bathroom or toilet is compliant whilst also making it as friendly and pleasing to the eye as possible for disabled user.

“If someone is disabled, the right bathroom is all about enhancing their quality of life”


What does a disabled bathroom need?

The requirements for a domestic bathroom will be different from a public one which need to consider Doc M standards.

The following encapsulates the key requirements for a disabled bathroom or washroom.

  • Installation of grab bars and support rails – fixed rails tend to be fitted near basins and baths whilst swing up supports will be located by toilets and shower seating.
  • Suitable taps or shower controls should be installed. These should be easy to operate with extended lever controls that can be operated with an open hand or wrist.
  • Safe water temperature is paramount to prevent the risk of accidental scalding. This can be achieved either by fitting thermostatic taps or by the installation of TMV2/3 blending valve.
  • Basins should be fitted at a comfortable height but must have clear space underneath if being used by wheelchair users and should be concave at the front to allow wheelchair users easier access.  Additionally, the bowl should be shallow enough to allow the user ease of reach.
  • Toilets should be raised height and incorporate easy to push raised flush buttons or larger ‘paddle’ cistern levers.
  • If fitting a shower as part of a disabled bathroom, direct access is important and so the shower should not have a door fitted.
  • In Doc M/public use basins, dispensers and accessories should be fitted at a lower height to allow access by wheelchair users (low level access).

Other Considerations

Non-slip flooring will reduce the risk of falls and therefore aid safety and comfort. If wheelchair accessibility is needed, the door opening should be a minimum of 900mm. Consideration must also be given to locate the toilet centrally for easier access by the user together with providing space either side for a carer to assist. As part of the aesthetic, a selection of wall tiles can transform the feel of the bathroom. Large tiles create more of a sense of space and an upmarket feel.

What is the British standard for disabled toilets?

British Standard 8300 provides the relevant guidance for disabled toilets. British Standard 6465 covers the design of sanitary facilities in new buildings and major refurbishment works.

What is required for a disabled toilet?

The toilet pan should be raised height – both for domestic and commercial use. Raised height pans should be a minimum height of 450mm. Extended pans reaching at least 750mm from the wall allow easier use by disabled wheelchair users. Where the toilet may be used by a wheelchair user who is transferring onto the toilet or by obese users, a seat with stabilising grips that prevents movement should be chosen.

Do disabled toilet seats have to be blue?

In commercial washrooms and public toilets, the use of blue is standard practice to provide contrast with the pan and is easily recognisable, but it is not essential, and many washrooms will choose white seats that match the pan. Other colours can be used e.g. seats in red can be selected as an alternative colour for dementia sufferers. In a domestic bathroom where providing a clean look is important, white seats are perfectly acceptable.

Is it a legal requirement to have a pull cord in a disabled toilet?

If a toilet needs to comply with Doc M requirements, then an emergency pull cord must be fitted and should be red for easy and quick identification.

What are the requirements for a disabled toilet grab rail?

In a disabled toilet, there should be a swing up grab rail next to the toilet which can be lifted out the way, such as to provide a wheelchair user with access.

In addition, there should be a combination of horizontally and vertically fitted fixed grab rails (in Doc M or commercial washrooms there should be a minimum of 5 fixed rails). In Doc M/commercial washrooms, the grab rails should also be in a contrasting colour to assist visually impaired users. Some swing up grab rails can be chosen with integral paper holders for easier use. A backrest should be fitted in conjunction with the grab rails where the toilet is an extended wall pan without a cistern.

How do you fit a toilet grab rail?

Grab bars should only be fixed to a strong substrate such as wooden battens, walls made of concrete or bricks. This is to ensure that the rail can safely support the weight of any individual who could be using the rail to support their body weight.

Where should grab bars be placed?

The grab bars should be placed on the wall closest to the toilet to assist someone trying to sit or stand. This will be used in conjunction with the swing up rail to assist wheelchair users transferring from their chair to the toilet. An additional grab rail should be positioned on the wall behind the toilet.

What is the best type of basin for a disabled bathroom?

There are several types of basin that can be installed in a disabled bathroom. The most common design is a concave, curved disabled basin which enables someone easy access to the basin particularly when in a wheelchair. Low height disabled basins are permanently fixed at a lower height again allowing wheelchair users easy access to the basin.  Other types of basins include rise and fall disabled basins which can move up and down depending on who is using it. There are also grab bar assisted basins which have integrated grab holes or bars offering additional support.

What height should a disabled basin be installed?

If the basin is being fitted as part of Doc M recommendations, then it should be fitted at a height of 720-720mm. However, if the basin is being installed in a domestic situation it should be fitted at the most comfortable height for the user in question.

What type of tap should be installed in an accessible bathroom?

To be Doc M compliant, a disabled toilet recommends a lever tap rather than a push button tap which can be difficult for disabled use. Alternatively, an infra-red sensor tap could be installed.  The tap should be suitable so that a user with limited manual dexterity can activate the sensor or turn the extended lever with a clenched fist. The water should also be temperature controlled to prevent scalding. This can be achieved by installed a TMV valve (thermostatic mixing valve) or a thermostatic basin tap like a sequential tap or Thermassure tap.

Are there specific requirements for a disabled shower?

Disabled showers should ideally have level access, no doors and a minimum dimension of 2200mm x 2000mm. Shower grab rails can be fitted to provide extra support and stability to reduce the risk of slips or falls. Shower grab rails are available as a straight support or angled as an 'L' shape.  Additionally, shower seating can also provide extra support. There are a variety of options including free-standing seats, stools and folding shower seats with or without a seat back.

Easy lever shower valves can be installed so that users with limited dexterity can easily turn the shower on and off. Some have a soft textured grip on both the valve levers and shower heads to prevent slipping when wet.


Contact us for product advice for your disabled bathroom. Click here to view our accessible bathroom products.


This article is written to provide advice and guidance on best practice advice but is written without liability or responsibility.