When designing a bathroom based on universal design principals for accessibility the bathroom sink choice is vital. The wrong choice of sink design could cause injuries or at the very least be non-functional to the user.
A wheelchair accessible vanity with an accessible sink is the best choice for storage and versatility. If you have a small bathroom and are designing a layout for someone with a wheelchair a vanity may not allow enough room for the wheelchair to turn without damaging walls or other bathroom fixtures.
- The sink basin is 6 1/2″ or less, this allows clearance for knees/legs when pulling a chair or a wheelchair up to the sink for activities of daily living.
- The drain should be at the back of the basin, this allows for someone in sitting to pull up a chair or a wheelchair to the sink and there will be enough space under the sink for their legs without having to negotiate the drain pipes.
- Mount the sink as close to the front edge of the vanity top as possible. This will allow someone with limited forward reach to utilize the sink effectively plus hair washing in the bathroom sink will be easier.
When looking for an appropriate sink be sure to read the specifications. Not all ‘ADA’ sinks have the drain in the back or the shallow basin. Remember ‘ADA’ rules are regulations for commercial buildings based on the average physical measurements of men in World War II. Please see the end of this post for the ADA regulations regarding sinks.
Below are some of my favorite sinks that meet the above recommendations. There is a large variety of styles and colors, remember universal/accessible design is not just functional but elegant and can reflect a large diversity of styles and tastes. DO NOT SETTLE for a sterilized hospital environment ever there is no need. Again below are a variety of sinks on the market that can fit a wide range of decors.
Excerpt from ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Sinks:
4.24.1 General. Sinks required to be accessible by 4.1 shall comply with 4.24.
4.24.2 Height. Sinks shall be mounted with the counter or rim no higher than 34 in (865 mm) above the finish floor.
- 4.24.3 Knee Clearance. Knee clearance that is at least 27 in (685 mm) high, 30 in (760 mm) wide, and 19 in (485 mm) deep shall be provided underneath sinks.
- EXCEPTION 1: Sinks used primarily by children ages 6 through 12 shall be permitted to have a knee clearance 24 in (610 mm) high minimum provided that the rim or counter surface is no higher than 31 in (760 mm).
- EXCEPTION 2: Sinks used primarily by children ages 5 and younger shall not be required to provide knee clearance if clear floor space for a parallel approach complying with 4.2.4 is provided
4.24.4 Depth. Each sink shall be a maximum of 6-1/2 in (165 mm) deep.
4.24.5 Clear Floor Space. A clear floor space at least 30 in by 48 in (760 mm by 1220 mm) complying with 4.2.4 shall be provided in front of a sink to allow forward approach. The clear floor space shall be on an accessible route and shall extend a maximum of 19 in (485 mm) underneath the sink (see Fig. 32).
4.24.6 Exposed Pipes and Surfaces. Hot water and drain pipes exposed under sinks shall be insulated or otherwise configured so as to protect against contact. There shall be no sharp or abrasive surfaces under sinks.
4.24.7 Faucets. Faucets shall comply with 4.27.4. Lever-operated, push-type, touch-type, or electronically controlled mechanisms are acceptable designs.