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How to Know if that Toilet is too Low!

I design accessible bathrooms for a living so it’s hard to not mentally evaluate spaces, even when I’m supposed to be on vacation!

I usually just cringe at the ugliness when I use public bathrooms but I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful stall and 22” toilet in the Dallas Airport today.

It was solid, elevated and available in EVERY stall, not just the ADA one.  Bravo to the designers who made this space beautiful AND functional!!

I wish more commercial spaces put as much thought into functional bathroom design.

I recently visited a brand new hotel that had installed shockingly low 14” toilets!!  We may not all take advantage of the running machine but I guarantee you, we ALL use the bathroom!!

The only thing I felt when I saw those old school toilets was dread because I knew that it was just a matter of time before an unsuspecting person sat down and wouldn’t be able to get back up.

The biomechanics behind this are that it’s easier to get up if your knees are lower than your hips.

I’m an average height and I can tell you my knees were DEFINITELY higher than my hips when sitting on that toilet.

I have a rule of thumb that I use to help clients decide if a surface is going to be too low for them to get up from.

They stand next to the toilet or couch and make sure that it comes up to the knee. Ideally, the surface would be at least 2”above the knee to make life easier.

A few inches doesn’t sound like a big deal but it has a big impact on quality of life.

When people have to worry about the possibility of being stuck on the toilet at a friend’s house or in a restaurant bathroom, their world shrinks.  

They decline social invites and forgo connections because the environment just can’t accommodate their needs.

Let’s put a stop to that! I would love to see more thoughtful commercial designs so that EVERYONE can be a part of it!