What is an accessible bathtub?
Accessible bathtubs are bathtubs that can be used by people with limited mobility or the disabled. A bathtub can be made accessible for some people by the addition of grab bars or hand grips. The use of lifts that lower and raise the bather in the water may also be used. There are bathtubs that have been specially designed for accessibility. These include walk-in bathtubs which are tubs with built-in transfer benches or, tubs with raised beds and sliding doors to allow for a seated transfer.
Many accessible bathtubs are available with hydrotherapy or whirlpool features. They also include internal grab bars, anti-slip floors and seats, and handheld showerheads that can also be wall mounted to enable a person to take a standing shower.
What are walk-in bathtubs?
Walk-in bathtubs have either an inward-opening or cap-like fitted door. These openings or doors descend to near ground level to allow a person to enter the tub without climbing over its side. The door is self-sealing.
Most walk-in bathtubs also have a chair-height seat, but some do not have any seats with them. An inward-opening door may be considered as a disadvantage or a problem. Emergency access is impossible because the water pressure holding the door closed. The advantage of an inward opening door is that the door “self-sealing” due to the water pressure inside the bath. The watter pressure assists in maintaining a water-tight seal. Outward-swinging doors are built with with a special seal so that they will not leak.
These types of doors also enables access for users who need to perform a transfer from a wheelchair in order to gain access to the bathing area. Other tubs have features such as side walls that raise and lower. Others bathtubs include doors that slide into the wall of the tub.
Some bathtubs that are categorized as “walk-in” actually require a low step-in. They have higher seats and outward-opening doors that enable a person to simply sit on the seat and to pivot and swing his or her legs into the tub. This type of walk-in bathtub can be helpful to wheelchair users and to others with impairments to their mobility.
Walk-in tubs take up a similar amount of space as a traditional bathtub. This allows for a quicker and simpler installation.
Recent models of walk-in tubs have been made smaller to fit into bathrooms with very limited space.