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Designing Wheelchair Accessible Vacation Rentals: A Guide to Roll-in Showers and More

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Understanding the Need for Accessible Travel Accommodations

Traveling can be a challenging experience for individuals with mobility issues, particularly those who use wheelchairs.

As an occupational therapist and a certified aging in place specialist, I understand the importance of creating vacation spaces that are not just welcoming but also fully accessible.

This article aims to guide property owners in designing wheelchair-accessible vacation rentals, with a special focus on roll-in showers, to meet the growing demand for disability-friendly travel accommodations.

Key Design Principles for Wheelchair Accessibility

Roll-in Shower Design

A roll-in shower is a cornerstone of any accessible bathroom. Here are some essential design elements:

  • Dimensions and Space: Ensure enough room for a wheelchair to maneuver easily. A minimum of 5 feet by 5 feet is recommended.
  • Avoid glass shower doors: they are very dangerous for anyone but especially for older adults.
  • Non-Slip Flooring: Safety is paramount. Use non-slip tiles with a flooring surface of .42 DCOF or more to prevent accidents.
  • Use low maintenance materials for easy cleaning and low upkeep.
  • Grab Bars and Seating: Install sturdy grab bars and a fold-down seat for stability and comfort.
  • Add proper wall blocking in order to attach safety equipment wherever its needed.

General Room Accessibility

Beyond the bathroom, every aspect of the rental should be accessible:

  • Doorways and Ramps: Exterior Doorways should be at least 36 inches wide with a threshold of no more than 1/4″ or 1/2″ beveled.
  • Create ramp access where needed. The slope should not exceed 1:12 ratio. This means 1 inch of rise for every 12inches of ramp. It is preferable to build a walking ramp with a 1:20 ratio.
  • Furniture Layout: Arrange furniture to allow ample space for a wheelchair to pass through easily.
  • Hallways should be 36″ wide and interior doors at least 32″ wide.

Safety and Comfort

Accessible design is also about safety and comfort:

  • Emergency Features: Install emergency alert systems within reach from a wheelchair.
  • Accessible Controls: Ensure that light switches, thermostats, and other controls are at an accessible height.

Incorporating Assistive Technology

Modern technology can greatly enhance accessibility. Consider voice-activated systems for lights and temperature control, and adjustable-height sinks to accommodate wheelchair users as well as motion sensor lighting.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

ADA does not apply to residential construction; therefore, it is important to be aware of ICC/ANSI standards in order to create a safe and accessible vacation rental.

The Importance of Inclusive Design in Vacation Rentals

Designing wheelchair-accessible vacation rentals is not just about meeting a market need; it’s about inclusivity and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to enjoy travel without barriers.

By incorporating these design elements, property owners can create spaces that are comfortable, safe, and welcoming for all guests, regardless of their mobility needs.

Setting yourself apart from your competition will ensure your space gets rented out for more money and throughout the entire year.

Embrace Accessibility in Your Vacation Rental

If you’re a property owner looking to make your vacation rental more accessible, or if you need professional advice on designing for accessibility, feel free to reach out to me.

Visit or call me for a free consultation at 352-281-6681.

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