Accessible bedrooms

Accessible bedrooms need to cater for a wide range of users. Space requirements are larger and all facilities in the room need to be accessible.

Provision and location

A proportion of the total number of bedrooms provided should be accessible and provided in convenient locations.

Most bedroom accommodation, with some adjustments, will be suitable for people with vision or hearing impairment as all standard bedrooms should have good colour schemes for critical surfaces and alarms that are visual and audible. In addition, building management should have vibrating pagers linked to the fire alarm available on loan for people with hearing impairment.

For wheelchair users and people with mobility or dexterity impairment or those needing assistance with personal activities, accessible bedrooms give them the convenience and safety they need.

People with physical disabilities have space requirements that generally mean standard rooms are too small. In addition, the facilities in these rooms are usually designed with a standing and mobile user in mind which means their use may be difficult or impossible for people unable to stand independently.

Ideally accessible bedrooms should not be allocated to others until all other bedrooms have been taken. Accessible bedrooms should be located in convenient parts of the building with travel distances reflecting the fact that their occupants may not be able to move very far or fast. The corridor floor finishes should reflect their potential use by a wheelchair user who will find thick carpet difficult to negotiate.

There should be an accessible route from the accessible bedrooms to a place of safety outside the building in the event of an emergency. Where stairs are involved, specific instructions should be provided within the room as to the procedure to be followed.

Design considerations

  • Ensure a proportion of rooms are accessible and located in positions convenient to guest facilities.
  • Ensure procedures are in place to control the allocation of accessible and connected rooms until all other standard rooms are taken.
  • Ensure fire alarm systems have facilities for notifying people with hearing impairment.
  • Ensure that lighting levels and finishes (use of visual, auditory and tactile features) within every room make their use easier for people with vision impairment.
  • Ensure corridor floor finishes are easy for wheelchair users to negotiate.
  • Ensure that means of escape are considered when deciding the location of accessible rooms.

Space requirements

The design of accessible bedrooms should enable building users with physical disabilities and those who have vision impairment to move around the space and approach furniture and fittings without difficulty.

Door sizes should take into account the expected size of wheelchairs and the approach direction.

Door closers should be set at the minimum force required to allow occupants to open the door without undue force.

Wheelchair users in particular need space to move around and others may have assistance dogs with them. Standard bedrooms generally do not have sufficient space and therefore accessible bedrooms need to be purpose designed to be usable by everyone.

A hoist may be needed in some accommodation such as nursing homes and special schools. Where feasible, one accessible room in a motel or hotel should be large enough for the use of a mobile hoist. While a mobile hoist takes up more space in the room than a fixed hoist, it provides greater flexibility.

Design considerations

  • Ensure that accessible rooms have sufficient space to allow their comfortable use by people with physical disabilities (including wheelchair users).
  • Ensure tactile, auditory and visual features are included in design.

Building Code requirement

Building Code clause D1 Access routes:

D1.3.2 At least one access route shall have features to enable people with disabilities to: (c) have access to and within those spaces where they may be expected to work or visit, or which contain facilities for personal hygiene.

Building Code clause G9 Electricity:

G9.3.4 In buildings intended for use by people with disabilities, light switches and plug socket outlets shall be accessible and usable.

Facilities and fixtures

Accessible rooms should be designed to allow their normal use by people with disabilities.

In addition to space and approach requirements, accessible bedrooms need the fixtures, fittings and in-room facilities to be appropriate for their needs. The room may be occupied by a single person or by a couple, one or both of whom may be disabled. In larger rooms they may also be accompanied by children.

Occupants will need to unpack and put away their clothes. They may wish to eat in the room, use a laptop or complete paperwork, watch TV or listen to the radio.

Carers may need to come in from an adjoining room and occupants may need assistance to get into and out of bed. While in bed they may wish to watch TV but will certainly need to control the lights.

In the event that the building needs to be evacuated, the occupants will need to be able to safely leave the room and the building when it is dark.

Furniture and fittings

Wheelchair users and ambulant disabled people may have limited reach and therefore standard wardrobes and bedroom equipment may not be convenient for them.

Tea, coffee and food are usually provided in hotel rooms. Unlike in a kitchen where the water supply is close to the kettle, in a bedroom it is generally in a different room. Sometimes, filling the kettle from the tap is not possible due to the shallow depth of the wash hand basin.

Room service meals require to be served on a table in the room. Adequate space and knee room is required at a table for a wheelchair user.

For an occupant not in a wheelchair, a suitable chair is required at the table.

The table used for room service meals could be used for paperwork and computer tasks which would require accessible power and data points.

TV and radio should be controllable and comfortably available to occupants in wheelchairs, easy chairs or in bed. The remote should be easy to use for those who are older or who have a vision impairment.

Occupants may be accompanied by children or companions. A connecting door will allow access between rooms without having to use the corridor.

Many people with disabilities prefer to dress and undress on a bed. Some will need to transfer between their wheelchair and the room facilities and bed using a hoist.

Mobile hoists need to have someone operating them and tend to take up more room than fixed ceiling track hoists. If space and assistance is available then a mobile hoist would provide greater flexibility.

There should be space at one side of the bed for independent transfer from a wheelchair and a space at the foot and other side for someone to assist. If a larger bed is subsequently installed, this negates the accessibility of the room.

If the bed and bedside table are not fixed to the wall they could be moved to suit a person's preferred method of transfer.

People with disabilities may well have a restricted range of movement. Light switches need to be easy to operate and conveniently located. Main lights should be switchable both on entry to the room and when in bed.

The environment in the room needs to be comfortable and controllable.

Care should be taken to install air conditioning controls that people who are blind or have low vision can effectively operate.

Many people are not able to sleep with light coming through the window from the outside. The controls to operate blinds and curtains should be in an accessible location and easy to use.

People who have impaired hearing may not be alerted by an audible alarm. Vibrating alarms should be made available for collection on arrival.

Evacuation notices on the back of room doors should be at a height suitable to be read sitting down.

Design considerations

  • Ensure that bedroom door access systems operate by proximity card and not swipe card.
  • Specify furniture and fittings so that they are accessible from both a standing and seated position.
  • Where in-room refreshments are provided, ensure the kettle is easy to fill and plug in.
  • Provide wheelchair accessible table space for eating room-service meals.
  • Provide a suitable chair for use at the table.
  • Ensure power and data access points are accessible to wheelchair users using the table.
  • Ensure TV and radio is controllable and fixed in a position where comfortable viewing is possible from a wheelchair, easy chair or an occupant in bed
  • Ensure fittings, furnishings and furniture are contrasting in colour to improve their visibility for those who have low vision. Tactile features should also be included.
  • It is preferable if accessible rooms have an interconnecting door to a standard room for use by a companion.
  • Ensure the layout and provisions in the room allow for easy transfer between a wheelchair and the bed.
  • Where practical, install a fixed ceiling hoist.
  • Where practical, ensure accessible bedrooms have ceiling structures suitable for the subsequent installation of a fixed ceiling hoist should the need arise.
  • Ensure the bed and bedside table are not fixed to the wall.
  • Ensure room and bedside lights are easy to control by an occupant located in bed or by the entrance door.
  • Ensure lighting can be manipulated and the lighting levels are appropriate for all independent use by all users. Task lighting should be included.
  • Ensure emergency lighting is installed to allow an occupant to get out of bed and dress in the event of a power failure or evacuation.
  • Ensure heating and ventilation is controllable by all occupants and positioned in an accessible location.
  • Ensure sources of noise are not located close to any bedroom.
  • Provide window blinds or curtains with accessible controls to black out the room.
  • Install a visual and audible alarm sounder in the room to sound at a volume that is acceptable.
  • Ensure evacuation information is available in appropriate formats and locations for all users and processes explained on check-in.

Building Code requirement

Building Code clause F7 Warning systems:

F7.3.1 A means of warning must alert people to the emergency in adequate time for them to reach a safe place.

Building Code clause G3 Food preparation and prevention of contamination:

G3.3.5 Where facilities are provided for people with disabilities they shall be accessible. Performance G3.3.5 shall apply only to camping grounds and accessible accommodation units in communal residential buildings.

Building Code clause G9 Electricity:

G9.3.4 In buildings intended for use by people with disabilities, light switches and plug socket outlets shall be accessible and usable.

Ensuite bathroom

The ensuite bathroom should be easy to access and use.

Some people with disabilities may take a long time to dress and undress or have continence issues. Therefore having ensuite accommodation is the most convenient option for them. In existing buildings where this is not possible, and where other bedrooms do not have ensuite facilities, a unisex accessible bathroom facility should be provided close to accessible bedrooms.

Many people with disabilities can only use a level access shower. However, where other bedroom accommodation have baths their provision, in addition to a level shower, should not be ruled out if space is available.

Where practicable, every other accessible bathroom should have the design mirrored so that a choice is provided when it comes to transfer direction between a wheelchair and the toilet.
Accessible bathrooms require considerably more space than a standard bathroom. It is generally not feasible to adapt a standard bathroom.

Include visual contrast to make the locating and use of fittings easier for those who have low vision.

Design considerations

  • Ensure accessible bedrooms have accessible ensuite bathrooms.
  • Ensure every other accessible bathroom has the layout handed or mirrored to provide choices.
  • Provide baths in addition to level showers where space allows.

Building Code requirement

Building Code clause G1 Personal hygiene:

G1.3.1 Sanitary fixtures shall be provided in sufficient number and be appropriate for the people who are intended to use them.

G1.3.3 Facilities for personal hygiene shall be provided in convenient locations.

G1.3.4 Personal hygiene facilities provided for people with disabilities shall be accessible.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: