Accessible WC: A Professional Checklist
If you’re working on a new development project, then you’ll need to consider accessible WCs. This is particularly important if your development is publicly accessible, as you’ll be legally obliged through the Equality Act to provide an accessible solution for every visitor.
There are several resources out there to guide you on your legal requirements, including Doc M and BS8300. But these documents are quite extensive (220 pages in BS8300!), so we’ve put together a professional checklist of all the areas you need to address when designing your accessible WC.
First and foremost, the WC needs to be accessible for all users. This means providing a door that is at least 800mm wide (750mm for existing buildings), or 825mm if your access route is less than 1200mm wide.
Of course, this width is a minimum requirement; a larger entrance will provide a more pleasurable and accessible experience for your users. Additionally it needs to be outward opening and fitted with a horizontal grab rail to aid users in closing the door.
The room needs to be big enough to practically suit its purpose. The recommendation is that an accessible bathroom should be at least 2200mm deep by 1500mm wide. This is in place primarily for wheelchair users, who require a larger space for turning around.
Again, these dimensions are the minimum requirement and a larger space will deliver a better experience.
An essential piece of equipment in any accessible toilet, you will need 5 grab rails for each WC, including the one on the door.
The other four include two vertical rails flanking the wash basin, another vertical rail on the far side of the toilet basin, and an additional horizontal rail on the wall alongside the toilet. Additionally, you’ll need to install a hinged rail alongside the toilet.
These rails need to have a light reflectance value (LRV) difference of at least 30 points compared to the surroundings to comply with Doc M. This is in place to aid the visually impaired and ensure that rails are adequately visible. However, as long as you achieve the required LRV differential, these rails can be in keeping with the rest of your design.
The toilet, cistern and basin should only be those that have been manufactured specifically for accessible WCs. The toilet needs to be Doc M approved, measuring 480mm to the top of the toilet seat and projecting 750mm from the wall.
Like the grab rails, the toilet seat should have an LRV difference of 30 points against the surroundings for easy visibility. If using a Back to wall, low level or wall hung toilet, a back rest rail and PU pad should be installed for added comfort.
The cistern should be equipped with a spatula cistern lever for easy flushing, and the basin should be equipped with a sequential mixer tap.
Every washroom should come with an emergency alarm. This alarm should be attached to a red pull cord that’s easily within reach of the toilet basin. And all this equipment should be positioned in specific locations and at specific heights as detailed in BS8300 or Doc M.
All of the above – the grab rails, the suite and accessories – can be purchased from Nymas as a complete Doc M pack here.
The number of accessible WCs that you must provide is not clearly defined in a general use building, but it’s very important to make sure you provide as many as is reasonably possible. In hotels however 5% of the number of rooms must be accessible and that rises to 10% in central London. This is because there is a legal duty on providers of public services to not discriminate against disabled people. Provide too few and you may be at risk of a lawsuit.
Your Professional Checklist
So there it is; a few key areas to consider when approach your next design project. As ever if you would like some bespoke advice specific to your project, contact our team through email@example.com.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not legal advice for you to use in complying with the Equality Act, Doc M or BS8300. You may not rely on this as legal advice or as a recommendation of any particular legal understanding.