Access Panel

Plumbing fixtures in the shower must be accessible from an access panel. Furthermore, specialized showers may include mechanical equipment needed to provide steam, music, and lights. Access to this equipment should be planned as the shower is being designed so that it can be serviced (Bathroom Planning Guideline 19).

Grab Bars

Because most users stand in the shower, the risk of falling is great. Grab bars are recommended for the back and sides of the shower. Chapter 8, "Accessibility in Practice," provides more detail on placement. As in the bathtub, the grab bars in the shower should be able to support at least 250 pounds (113 kg).

The Guidelines and Access Standards recommend locations for grab bars. However, placing rein­forcement throughout the shower walls allows clients to add supports when and where they will use them. Remember to maintain a water-tight seal to prevent water from seeping into these materials that are installed behind the finished wall.

Everyone is unique and their height and reach change as they age. A vertical bar at the shower entrance provides a helpful support when getting in and out. The surface and design of all grab bars should reduce the risk of a hand slipping on the bar.

Shower Seat

A seat or bench is very helpful to many people as they shower. A person, whose stamina is reduced due to age, pregnancy, injury, or too much physical activity, may not have the energy to stand throughout the shower. A woman may find a seated position the best position for shaving her legs. A seat or bench in the shower provides an opportunity to relax, assistance to people with limited strength or balance, and help with transfer.

NKBA recommends that a shower seat or bench be planned. It should be 17 inches (432 mm) to 19 inches (483 mm) high from the finished shower floor and at least 15 inches (381 mm) deep, finished (see Figure 6.53). Remember to allow for the thickness of the finishing material.

The seat or bench should not interfere with the recommended minimum shower size of 36 inches by 36 inches (914 mm by 914 mm) of floor area, although the IRC building code will allow the minimum 30 inch by 30 inch (762 mm by 762 mm) size to be maintained. Just as in the tub area, when less than 1 5 inches (381 mm) is available a narrower bench can benefit some users. Attention must be given to the user’s size and weight so the seat will support the intended use.