Electrical, Lighting, and Ventilation in the Toileting Center

Responsive lighting concepts for nocturnal visits to the bathroom include motion-sensor lighting and night lighting that fades on and off. In addition, recognize that task lighting appropriate to the activities of the user must be planned. For example, if this is to be a reading station, plan the lighting for it.

Ventilation and lighting controls should be placed 15 inches to 48 inches (381 mm to 1219 mm) above the floor, operable with minimal effort, easy to read, and with visual and audible on/off indicators. Electronic sensor controls on ventilation help ensure that things are shut off at the ap­propriate time after the user is finished. As previously noted, quiet ventilation will minimize back­ground noise distortion, good for all and especially beneficial for those of us with hearing impairments.

For added security, consider planning for a security system, safety alarm, or hard-wired phone and/ or an intercom in the toileting center.

Access Standards

The NKBA Guidelines and Access Standards that relate to the toileting center are: 4, 11, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 26.

Responsive Design Summary: the Toileting Center

• Sensory

• Universal design recommendations

• Plan responsive lighting concepts for typical activities and nocturnal visits to the bathroom

• Choose quiet ventilation to minimize background noise distortion (Access Guideline 26)

• Access recommendations

• Incorporate redundant cueing for the controls to respond to vision and hearing issues

• Plan storage that does not protrude into the clear floor space

• Cognitive

• Universal design recommendations

• Consider planning the entire bathroom as a wet area to reduce problems with water containment.

• Consider toilets with an automatic flush to improve sanitation and odor control

• Specify electronic sensor controls lighting and on ventilation to help ensure it is shut off after the user is finished

• Access recommendations

• Plan storage of any step stool or toilet training accessories out of the clear floor space and pathways around the toilet (Access Guideline 4)

• Physical

• Universal design recommendations

• Plan according to the client’s transfer methods

• Respect the need for private storage of medical/hygiene equipment and products

• Plan a GFCI receptacle (Guideline 24) near the toilet for addition of a personal hygiene system or other features requiring an electrical connection

• Specify that walls be reinforced at time of construction to allow for installation of grab bars (Guideline 14) as and where needed

• Access recommendations

• Plan a minimum clear floor space of 30 inches by 48 inches (762 mm by 1219 mm) cen­tered at each fixture, plus space for maneuvering including approach and turning for a person using a wheelchair (Access Standard 4)

• Design the space for transfer according to client needs, or plan for both a parallel and a forward approach to the toilet by providing clearance of at least 56 inches (1422 mm) measured perpendicular from the rear wall, and 60 inches (1524 mm) measured perpen­dicular from the side wall. No other fixture or obstruction should be within the clearance area

• Plan grab bars according to the needs and height of the user, with 33 to 36 inches (838 mm to 914 mm) above the floor as a general guide (Guideline 14).

• Consider users’ height and ability when selecting toilet height and features. A standard is between 15 and 19 inches (381 mm to 483 mm) above the floor (Access Standard 20)


In this chapter, you have been presented with information on various sensory, cognitive, and physical characteristics of people, and related design concepts to help stimulate and streamline your process when working on a space that is to accommodate a client with a specific disability. It is worth repeating that just as there is no average person, no two people with disabilities are alike. These general groups have been formed simply to help pull together and further explore the design concepts discussed throughout the book and particularly in chapter 6, "Bathroom Planning." You will have noticed repeated concepts and concepts that might fall into either the universal design list or the Access Standards list. As time passes and we embrace more and more of the Access solutions, more concepts will be moved from the access to the universal category, creating true equity in our design. Hopefully, you will continue to build on the lists and grow your library of ac­cess-related design. As you do, you’ll discover that most of the access solutions are better for everyone and you’ll be experiencing that "Aha" of universal design.


1. Design that responds to the particular requirements of a person with specific characteristics and needs is (See under "Universal Design versus Accessibility: Further Clarification" page 235)

a. Universal design

b. Accessible design

c. Barrier-free design

d. Lifespan design

2. What are three bath design concepts or practices that will improve the function of the space for a client with hearing issues? (See under "Sensory Characteristics: Hearing" page 237)

3. What are three design concepts or practices that will improve the function of the space for a person with vision impairments? (See under "Sensory Characteristics: Vision" page 237)

4. What are three concepts or practices that will improve the function of the space for a person with tactile or olfactory issues? (See under "Other Sensory Characteristics" page 237)

5. What are three concepts or practices that will improve the function of the space for a person with cognitive impairments? (See under "Perception and Cognition Characteristics" page 238)

Updated: October 9, 2015 — 11:11 pm