Lighting the way for inclusive bathrooms

Good bathroom lighting is essential for the avoidance of accidents; however, it is of particular importance in accessible installations. Here, Stuart Reynolds, Head of Product and Marketing at AKW, shows how specifiers and installers can ensure well-lit, inclusive bathrooms that promote independence and safety.


Good bathroom lighting – a mix of task and ambient lighting Good bathroom lighting needs to deliver adequate light levels for the user to perform a variety of tasks around the space, including showering, shaving and other personal care activities. According to the Thomas Pocklington Trust, a charity committed to making a positive difference to the lives of blind and partially sighted people: “There should ideally be a high and even level of ambient light, to allow people to move around safely, and sufficient light for specific tasks. Even levels of lighting mean that people’s eyes do not need to readjust significantly to different light levels when they stop an activity or move away from it.” Key factors include: Ambient lighting with LEDs LED lights provide shadow-free illumination; ideal for those with visual impairment issues or those with dementia. To maintain ambient light levels in the bathroom, LED ceiling lights should be spaced to maximise coverage and minimise shadowing. Narrow beam LED downlights

To highlight tasks such as shaving, washing etc, narrow beams of light are needed on specific spaces, such as the shower area, or sink. Most LED downlights on the market have a beam angle of 60°; however, for those with low vision or mobility issues, a specialist task light with a 30° beam angle is required.

Easy-to-use light switch or pull cord

Either a rocker switch or easy-to-hold pull cord is advised for use in accessible bathrooms. For those with visual impairment issues, a cord in a high-contrast colour is ideal.

What lights to put where?

For a standard-sized domestic UK bathroom (sized approximately 8 x 6ft or 2438 x 1829mm), it is recommended that two ambient LED ceiling lights are used, as well as task lights – distributed in the following way (with the user no closer than 300mm to any given task light):

  • Toilet – one task light
  • Hand basin – one task or mirror light
  • Shower – three task lights (for a space of 1500 x 1500mm)
  • And/or bath – three task lights.

For those looking for guidance on this subject, AKW has created a ‘lighting accessible bathrooms guide’ in conjunction with occupational therapists. Free to download, it promotes best practice lighting design in inclusive bathrooms.

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