Universal Design Bathroom: Best Handicap Bathroom Design for the 21st Century
Universal Design Bathroom: Best Handicap Bathroom for the 21st Century 
Meet universal-design expert, Mary Jo Peterson, who gives great design advice for creating an accessible bathroom that works for everyone in the home.

Disabled bathrooms are a necessity in homes where there is at least one occupant who is immobile for disability reasons. 

Degrees of immobility can range from being able to 
get around on crutches to being completely bound to 
a wheelchair. 

Anyone who is disabled for any reason and to 
whatever degree, knows how difficult it is to use a
regular bathroom. Therefore, an accessible bathroom 
is a necessity. 

Even though there are uniform requirements required 
for disabled bathrooms by the ADA, today's home 
designers and bathroom remodeling contractors or builders are more and more convinced of the necessity of constructing or remodeling at least one bathroom in a home that follows the universal design guidelines. 

These guidelines make all bathrooms easily functional for those who are disabled as well as for those who are not physically challenged. 

Why Consider a Universal Bathroom 

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are over 35 million Americans today who provide home care for someone they love who have some form of limited mobility. 

The number of disabled, those with chronic illnesses and the elderly is expected to rise significantly as the first wave of baby boomers reach retirement age. 

As these issues are becoming more apparent, the building and real estate industry is adjusting its outlook on home designs to encourage more floor plans to include universally accessible bathrooms, whether the owner has need of it or not at the time. Who knows when a family will need to bring an aging parent home to live with them whose health may require the use of a handicap bathroom design?

In fact, new homes that offer at least one universal design bathroom in their floor plans, automatically are worth more than those which do not. Today's universally accessible residential bathrooms are not designed with an institutional look. Rather, they are very aesthetically pleasing, comfortable, and functional, even though they can be used as bathrooms for the disabled.

Meet Universal Design Expert, Mary Jo Peterson

One very successful universal-design expert, Mary Jo Peterson, explains her personal development from being a traditional home designer to becoming a universal design enthusiast, who now has many books to her credit about the subject. She states,

As she ventured into the arena of universal bathroom design for her clients, she realized that there was a lot of overlap in the concepts with traditional designs that she could forge together to create an even more functional design for everyone in the home.

Peterson further explained that, 

It is no wonder that many design experts are developing plans, combining features and creating functional bathrooms that can be used by just about anyone, no matter their state of health or mobility. It is a smarter, more practical and ultimately, a more economical way to build or remodel a residential bathroom, because it works for everyone in the family.

Consumer Report News Offers Design Advice

If you're interested in learning more about the possibility of creating a 
universal design bathroom in your home, Consumer Reports News has a 
great article that lists Peterson's advice about designing a universal 
bathroom that is practical for everyone. 

You can also grab a copy of one or more of her books that detail the 
universal design bathroom concept, bathroom safety concerns for the 
disabled, and information about universal design for the entire home.

For More Information:

"My clients with disabilities were growing in numbers, I continued to work with builders, architects, and referrals from previous clients. I learned that much was possible using the same lovely parts and pieces that had always been a part of the package, but they had to be used in non-traditional ways. I learned that many of the things I designed to support or give access to a client with a disability would also improve the space for an able-bodied client. 

In fact, I learned that the question to ask clients was what they wanted of a new space, not based on what they already knew a...bath could do, but on what they wished it could do. Aha! My focus need not be people with disabilities to the exclusion of others, but improved flexibility and access for all clients. What a concept! Of course, that concept is universal design, and so I entered, through the back door, into the world of believers in universal design."
"At a point in my career and life in general when I was asking if I could hope to make a difference in the world, I turned the focus of my...bath design work to people with disabilities. A past client, now friend and advisor, encouraged me to put my love of people and of creating these two types of spaces together. 

It was my grand scheme that I would work with each client as I had been, establishing the needs and parameters of the project, and creating a...bathroom that more than accomplished the goals. The difference would be that the client's needs would be non-traditional. The design team would include medical advisors, and the results would be not only beautiful and new, but newly open to the client."
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Universal Design Bathroom
"One of my first projects was a bath remodel. The goal was to enable the client to transfer independently and to do so into a tub, rather than a shower. The day the job was complete, I received a call from the client thanking me and telling me that she was celebrating her first bath in 15 years. I was hooked. Most of us have to make a living, but not all of us can have the joy in work 
that I have found."
by Mary Jo Peterson
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