Recently in Singapore, I was showing a good friend of mine what an adapted room of a hotel looked like.
Even though my friend knew me for many years, she had no idea of the equipment I took on travels or the purpose of many accessibility features that were in the room. While looking around the room she pointed at my hoist and said “Yo Srin, what’s that for?!”.
It got me thinking that if a friend had no idea what all this was for, then it’s likely that the wider world probably doesn’t know either.
Raising awareness about accessible travel is a key aspect of what we do here at Accomable, so we’ll be doing a regular column called “Yo Srin, what’s that for?” where I’ll highlight a commonly required accessibility feature or piece of assistive technology and explain what it’s for.
So for this first column, I’ll start of with an adaptation that I’m heavily dependent on, that being the roll-in shower.
1. What is it?
The roll-in shower (sometimes called a wet-room) is simply a shower that has no step or threshold to enter. You can simply roll in with a wheelchair! Additionally, the unit will also have a fold up shower seat mounted to the wall or a portable lightweight seat placed in the shower when required.
Here's an example of a good roll-in shower at a vendor in Barcelona.
2. Why is it needed?
When I shower, I sit on a wheeled toilet commode and get rolled into the shower by a personal care assistant. Others who have more upper body strength need to transfer from their wheelchair onto the shower seat. A shower unit with no steps or thresholds to enter means that a commode shower chair can be wheeled in; or that wheelchair user can get close enough to the shower seat in order to transfer.
Moreover, aside from wheelchair users, roll-in showers can be the preferred option for individuals who have difficulties holding their balance while walking or climbing a slippery step of any kind.
3. What makes a good roll-in shower?
The example above is really good. It has:
No steps, lips or thresholds to enter the shower unit with amply space for a wheelchair to spin on the spot.
A good drainage system. In a normal shower unit, the step or threshold keeps water from escaping. With roll-in showers, water can quickly escape around the bathroom and beyond creating a mess. A very tiny and shallow slope around a decent drain saves a lot of trouble.
A foldable, lightweight and sturdy wall mounted shower seat.
A foldable, lightweight and sturdy set of grab rails.
A shower handle that’s within easy reach of the shower seat (if you’re sitting down on the seat, a shower handle that’s really high up can be a nightmare).
An emergency pull-cord / panic alarm.
Here are some examples of roll-in showers that aren't great.
In this first example, the shower handle is on the opposite side of where the seat is. If you were sitting down on that shower seat, you'd struggle to reach the handle.
In the second example, the shower unit has a very small lip to get into it. This could make things tricky for a wheelchair user who is getting wheeled into the shower with a shower chair.
4. Does everyone requiring adapted rooms use / prefer a roll-in shower?
No. Some disabled people, especially those that have higher levels of upper body strength or who can be easily lifted by an assistant prefer bathtubs with grab rails. However, the archetypal “accessible bathroom” will usually have a roll-in shower.
If you'd like more information on what makes a good accessible shower unit, feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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