Designing for disability: Pioneering the next evolution in multi-use accessible design

More than 4 million Australians live with some form of disability. Australia’s aging population continues to rise. Designing for disability has, therefore, become paramount for the architecture and design industry in order to create inclusive spaces, environments and products.

Accessibility doesn’t limit design. In fact, it’s the lack of consideration for accessibility that restricts the full potential of the final product. Inclusive and thoughtful design sparks innovation, breaks down barriers and improves lives by catering to the primary needs of users.

Bathrooms provide for basic human needs, but all too often, people with accessibility issues find these spaces difficult to navigate. The ability to maintain personal hygiene whilst on a wheelchair or mobility device or with the help of a carer should be paramount. This means bathroom design must be guided by important considerations such as the sizing of shower doors or eliminating any steps or sills that could make access more difficult. Previously, elements such as shower screens would be factored into the plan in the later stages of bathroom design; now the whole space has to be planned holistically to be functional and easy to use.

danmac, a glazing industry leader in the design and distribution of aluminium and hardware, recognises the vital need for empathic design, and addresses it one innovative product at a time.

Following the recent launch of clamps for premium semi-frameless shower screens that are adapted for wheelchair usage, danmac general manager Leigh Todd spoke about the company’s focus on accessibility, their drive to innovate, and the ability to listen to their clients and specifiers to deliver better products.

Designing for disability: Pioneering the next evolution in multi-use accessible design

Explaining how the idea to create the innovative clamps came about, Todd said they wanted to create a shower screen that could be used in a wheelchair to offer those with accessibility issues the same design choices that an able-bodied person could have.

Given the limited semi-frameless shower designs for the access impaired and hybrid designs featuring aluminium around the perimeter only allowing for an insufficient door width of 750mm, Todd knew that the Danmac team had to push the envelope further.

“We wanted to take it to the next level. We knew that if we could manufacture a sill-less semi-frameless shower screen without fixing it to the floor, we would be ahead of the game. But we also wanted for the door size to be wheelchair accessible.”

Offering the best-in-class clamp system in the market, Danmac was already ahead of the rest of the world in considering some of the key usability design principles. Nevertheless, the clamp had to be made smaller to create the desired door width. Two years of tests resulted in an innovative pivot system that’s revolutionised the market by offering more choice and variety to people with limited accessibility.

The high quality brass sill-less clamp pivot solution incorporates the pivot pin into the clamp itself, which significantly reduces the need for glass cut-outs as only a single hole is needed on top and bottom to stabilise the screen door.

“If we can provide high-end design solutions for mobility devices and aids that is a great move. Having a large door with a width of up to 1000mm means that wheelchairs and carers can get into the shower with you. Plus, it also acts as a solution to tripping hazards,” Todd said.

With their mission firmly anchored in accessible design, Danmac is perfectly set up to continue leading the charge on innovative bathroom solutions.

“Danmac’s makeup makes us more agile, more innovative and more responsive,” Todd explained. “We’re also really proactive and hands-on. We take feedback right from the customers and specifiers to ensure the product is where and what it needs to be.”