On July 26, 1990, President George Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act gives individuals with disabilities the same rights as citizens with no disabilities. Some of the articles of the act include equal employment rights, same rights of entry and exit to buildings, and the same rights to facilities usage. Included in the many details are the requirements for showers and proper shower valve placement.
Height Above Floor
The minimum height for the shower controls area is 38 inches above the floor. The maximum height above the floor is 48 inches. The architect is given a 10-inch leeway to place the controls. As long as the controls are within 38 to 48 inches off the floor, the stall is in compliance.
The ADA states that the controls can be on the back wall, or on either side wall. Great leeway is given on where to place the control valve. The overall understanding, though, is that it has to be within an arm's reach from the seat.
Seat to Valve Placement
In a stall that measures 3 feet by 3 feet, the control valve has to be mounted opposite the seat. This is so the person can reach the controls with ease. Shower stalls are recommended to be 3 feet by 3 feet. Making a bigger shower stall would hinder the person's ability to reach the controls if she were seated. The controls, therefore, has to be within a comfortable arm's reach.
The ADA specified the criteria to operate all controls, which includes the shower valve. The controls cannot pinch or bind skin or fingers. The controls must be operated with one hand only, and cannot bind the wrist. Maximum force applied to operate the control is also specified. No more than 5 foot-pounds of pressure can be used to operate the control.