ADA/Universal Design: What size is a wheelchair accessible bedroom?

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.
A wheelchair accessible bedroom will need to allow room for a bed, 2 dressers, and of course room for the wheelchair to maneuver.  When planning a wheelchair accessible bedroom begin with the size of the bed. 

Standard mattress sizes are as follow:

  • Twin--39 x 75 inches (or 99 x 190 cm)
  • X-Long Twin--39 x 80 inches (99 x 203 cm)
  • Full--54 x 75 inches (137 x 190 cm)
  • Queen--60 x 80 inches (or 153 x 203 cm), 5’x 6.5’
  • King--76 x 80 inches (or 198 x 203 cm)
  • California King--72 x 84 inches (or 182 x 213 cm)

In our example we are going to base the size of the wheelchair accessible bedroom on a queen-sized bed, which is 60"x 80" or 5'x 6.5'.  

Standard wheelchairs require at least 3-feet of width to propel in a straight line, bariatric or power wheelchairs may require more space depending on the size of the wheelchair and the maneuvering ability of the driver.  Most standard wheelchairs are about 27" wide plus the wheelchair user will require room for their hands on the wheels and in order to prevent damage to the walls a little extra room to move.

Standard wheelchairs require a 5'x 5' turning radius.
  It the wheelchair user is very good with their wheelchair a 4'x 4' wide turning radius will suffice, but 5'x 5' will reduce wall damage.  If someone is utilizing a power wheelchair their wheelchair turns aren't usually as accurate and the chair is usually larger than a standard wheelchair.   A power wheelchair user or a bariatric wheelchair user requires at least a 6'x 6' turn radius.

 When planning for a wheelchair accessible bedroom it is important to plan for the wheelchair to be able to turn on at least two sides of the bed.  For the side of the bed that does not allow for a turn radius for the wheelchair, there must be enough room for the wheelchair to propel in a straight path.

The wheelchair  access areas should be planned with furniture in mind.  For example, most dressers are approximately 2-feet wide, so when figuring out pathways remember to figure in furniture.

   A= 5' for wheelchair turning radius.   
B=7' with a 5' turning radius plus 2' for furniture.
C= 5' with 3' for straight wheelchair path plus 2' for furniture.

Points to remember when planning a wheelchair accessible bedroom. 
  • Always allow room for the wheelchair to maneuver, at least two pathways around the bed with full turn radii and one with pathway for straight mobility.
  • Plan for nightstands next to the bed for access to necessities while in bed. 
  • Light switches or touch lamps next to bed.
  • Electrical outlets near bed for charging electric wheelchairs or phones.  Outlets should be mounted high enough so wheelchair user won't have to bend over to utilize the outlets.
  • Dressing station should be planned into bedroom configuration.
  • Closets require 5' turning radius in front or if a walk-in closet a 5' turn radius is required for accessibility.

Any more suggestions for planning a handicap accessible bedroom?  Please comment on what you like or don't like about the usability of your bedroom handicapped accessible or not.   


Disabled access said...

This text is worth everyone’s attention. How can I find out more article on wheelchair accessible bedroom?

Karen K Koch said...

What would you like to know?

artglick said...

Am I the only one bugged by the fact that they call it a 5' turning radius? It's really a 5' turning diameter! Never count on an architect to be good at math. He'd be an engineer!

Anonymous said...

Bah, engineers just use software. If they really knew math to the point they could execute it they'd be a quality, high end builder!

Natasha Cherryblossom said...

I'm going to be fully wheelchair bound later in life, and am planning out a house to be built with a wheelchair in mind, including things like short benches in the kitchen so I can actually reach them and the sink properly. In regards to the bedroom, is 6m x 6m a good size to allow for a twin bed and other furniture? Those would be a small desk, a bookshelf, a large fish tank, a bookshelf, and a dresser? I'll be basing the measurements on the rest of the rooms off this one. I'm planning on paper but it seems a bit big, but I'm unfamiliar with how much room a wheelchair actually needs to be maneuvered.