Practical advice on barrierfree building

main subject bathroom - things to know about a washbasin

What should be taken into consideration when planning and/or installing a washbasin for someone with a handicap? First of all you spontaneously think: It should be wheelchair accessible. You manage this by leaving out the obligatory base unit. However, that’s certainly not all that provides a handicapped person, for instance a wheelchair user, good and independent usage of the washbasin.

The following criteria should be taken into account for a suitable washbasin :



– Installation of a flat, not “bulbous” washbasin
– If necessary : A washbasin element with a frontal reduction making it possible for elderly people, for example, to use the taps without problem when sitting.
– Support handles, or a gripping surface under the basin itself increase safety.
– To be able to drive underneath, for example with a wheelchair, enabling personal hygiene when sitting, ideally you should be able to go right up to the very front.
– Installation of a concealed syphon – the syphon is in the wall, concealed by a small cover ( plastic is recommended).
– If using a wheelchair – Install the upper edge of the washbasin 80cms from the floor.
– A towel rail on the wall provides extra holding support.



– The distance from the taps/the mixer tap: 40cms from the front of the washbasin, at the very most.
– Non touch PSD technology is possible and is recommended, for example for people with spasticity, epilepsy or handicaps with hand/arm locomotive apparatus.
– New: Voice controlled, non moving, fittings, for example for people with Tetraplegie (all four limbs are paralyzed).



– Wall mirrors must be usable when sitting or standing. Wall mirrors, the breadth of the washbasin, secured directly to the wall, are wheelchair friendly and esthetic. Lower edge, at least 1,10ms above the basin.
– Bathroom mirror cupboards are not advantageous, as they are difficult to use when sitting. Better to have an open shelf, halfway up, sideways to the wall mirror, or a movable, wheelchair accessible, storage shelf.


Summing up:

A washbasin, ensuring barrierfreedom and wheelchair friendly usage, needs extensive technical planning. The right choice of sanitary ceramics, the appropriate fittings and the planning of a suitable wall mirror are the most important points.

More information or advice concerning a washbasin and /or wheelchair friendly bathroom can be obtained from Uli Müller, architect from Coburg, at



Fotos: Sven Kaufmann – SVK Design