Submitted by Don Doman.
I was returning to my room at the Fairfield Inn in Puyallup. I stepped on the elevator with a man five or six inches taller than my six foot height. I looked at him and said, “Can I ask you a question?” He nodded his head. I asked, “Do short toilets pose a problem for you?” In a voice somewhere between a growl and a whimper, he said “YES!!!! You can’t easily sit down and you almost need assistance to get up.” I shook my head yes in agreement.
For tall people the best way to book a room in a hotel is to ask for a handicap accessible room. Quite often they have hand bars to assist people getting down and up. Some hotels have a narrow alcove for the toilet, which is good thing. Stretching out your arms you can push against the opposing walls to raise and lower your body.
The Fairfield Inn is not alone. My wife and I travel quite a bit and we see this problem at the majority of the hotels where we stay. The most recent was the Shilo Inn in Tacoma. The toilet seat was a mere fifteen inches high. Luckily, there was a door knob protector attached to the wall. With my right hand I could just get enough grip on it to help me rise to the occasion.
In my own home we have two bathrooms. Occasionally I am forced to use the main floor toilet. It stands just sixteen inches tall at the seat. Luckily the counter next to it provides a handhold.
A “comfort height” toilet, sometimes known as an “Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) toilet” because the height matches that used for ADA-compliant toilets, is 17 to 19 inches from floor to seat.
A higher bowl height can be good for the knees and back and can offer real advantages for taller folks, the elderly and people with mobility problems. Peg, my 5 foot 2 inch wife also enjoys a higher toilet seat. After she had both knees replaced, she really found the greater height more comfortable. The bathroom for our master bedroom has a high sink counter AND a 17 inch seat height for the toilet. I love this bathroom . . .
Comment not related to article—I’ve been meaning to ask you—are you related to Margaret Doman. Who lives in or used to live in Bellevue? My husband taught at Interlake High School and 3 Dolan girls were in his classes. Margaret was their mom. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity!!!!!
Don Doman says
Ahhhhh, yes and no. I am married to a Margaret Doman, but she and I have never lived in Bellevue except for a couple of nights at the Silver Cloud. Margaret was born in Port Angeles and her father was a top kick in the USAF, so she attended a French kindergarten and graduated from high school in Germany. We live in the north end of Tacoma . . . but thanks for asking!
VM Jones says
I agree with you about toilet Heights. Also, I think grab bars should be in all public toilets. Even non-disabled people could use a little help getting off of especially short toilets.
Don Doman says
Thanks for reading and for writing.
When I act out the body actions one has to go through to lower and raise oneself off a short toilet, people just roar, but when you’re dealing low to the floor toilets, bad knees, and no place to grip . . . what are you supposed to do? I’m glad you see the need for change.
Thanks, again for writing and for commenting.
Jean S Reddish says
I am disappointed at the number of public toilets I need to use that have the lower toilets in the handicap stall.
Don Doman says
You have my “Amen” to that. I think municipalities think they are doing a favor for people with disabilities, when they are actually making it more difficult for them. The ADA recommends the Comfort Toilet height of 17-19 inches. It’s easier to slide off from a wheel chair. Oh, well . . . let’s spread the news!!!!!!
Thanks for reading and for commenting.
Joan Campion says
Low toilets are also in medical facilities such as my dentists and eye care places and numerous restaurants. The restaurants can be avoided but unfortunately not all places. Drinking less is an option but not a solution.
Don Doman says
Thank you for reading and writing.
I don’t know why medical facilities would think you would like to be closer to the bathroom floor. I’m sure they either though all about the reasons why it should be lower, but the reality is it probably saves them a dollar or two per toilet.
Thanks, again for reading. I love to read the comments.
Janice Gordon says
I stand around 5′ 10 ” tall. I have impaired physical abilities due to a number of accidents I’ve had in the past, and am considered to be permanently disabled. From time to time my back acts up, and I use a cane when it does. Any toilet in a public restroom that doesn’t have a grab bar is a problem for me.
If I go to a movie, I must wait for an ADA restroom stall to free up, or else with the narrow stalls, and low slung toilets, I’m going to have a problem.
If you’ve ever gone to the Old Cannery Warehouse ( furniture outlet ) in Sumner, check out their restroom facilities. I almost couldn’t get up. I had to wait for people to leave, and open the stall door and grab the sides of the door frame to even pull myself up.
Don Doman says
Thank you for writing and confiding your ongoing predicament with toilet height . . . or lack there of. I’m sorry . . . I had to laugh, but only because I have found myself in similar circumstances. I’ve pulled myself up by holding onto toilet paper dispensers, diaper changing tables and once even contemplated reaching up to a towel rack above the toilet even though I knew I would pull it out of the wall . . . I also thought “Well, the hotel deserves it . . . and perhaps I’ll be able to get a grip on the 2×4 inside the wall.” Perhaps, just a hook on the toilet door and a length of rope would help.
Thanks, again for reading AND for commenting. You’ve made my evening more livable.