Making showers wheelchair accessible are important for individuals who are wheelchair bound and require assistance when getting in and out of the shower. Because most bathrooms and particularly showers lack the appropriate handicap accessible equipment for individuals who are wheelchair bound, you can make the shower more accessible. Adding a shower bench and grab bars will help you help a wheelchair bound individual maintain their independence.
Step 1: Replace Existing Shower with Shower Surround
You will need to replace the existing shower with a new custom build shower surround designed for increased handicap accessibility. To do this, shut of the water main to the shower and prepare for the removal of the existing bathtub. Remove all of the faucet handles and the tiles above the bathtub where the bathtub is connected. You may need to use a law hammer and chisel in order to remove any clips that attach the bathtub to the wall. An older cast iron tub will require the assistance of another person to remove (remember to wear a weight belt to reduce the potential for a serious back injury).
Step 2: Measure Shower Area for ADA Compliance
Using the measurements in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for wheelchair accessible showers (this information can be found online at ADA.gov), measure the existing bath and shower area to make sure it meets requirements. I necessary extend the shower to meet ADA standards for wheelchair accessibility.
Step 3: Purchase and Install Custom-Built Shower Surround
A custom-built shower build surround should be purchased based on the dimensions of the existing shower. This includes the position and location of the faucets that you will need to reincorporate once the shower surround is installed. Have the shower surround installed according to manufacturer’s instructions in order to proceed to the next step.
Step 6: Attach Grab Bars and Rails
Use your drill to drill holes in order to attach the grab bars and rails to the custom build shower surround. The grab bars and rails make it easier for a person who is wheelchair bound to get in and out of the shower and give them something to hold on while taking a shower.
Step 7: Install a Handheld Shower Head
Take out the old shower head using a pliers to loosen the head and screw it off of the drain. Replace it with a handheld shower head that can be purchased at a home improvement center. The handheld should have a reach of at least 5 to 7 feet and be placed in a position that is easily accessible for the wheelchair bound individual.
Step 8: Install a Shower Seat
Use the illustrations provided at the ADA.gov to install a retractable or folding shower seat that meets ADA requirements.
Step 9: Install Entryway Tiles
Place no slip tiles at the front of the shower in order to allow easy access for the wheelchair bound individual.