When enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) imposed strict building codes across a wide variety of areas. Public access water closets and bathrooms built or renovated after the law was passed must comply with these regulations. The ADA requires all compliant shower facilities to meet strict requirements to allow easier access to people with disabilities, with rules covering the use of shower heads, seats, floor space, and more.
Seat and Shower Head
All compliant shower stalls must include a seat to allow disabled access use of the shower. The seat must be mounted between 17 and 19 inches above the shower floor and be located on the wall opposite the shower control features. The shower head must be detachable and mounted to a hose at least 60 inches long. (ADAAG § 4.21.3 and § 4.21.6)
The "L" shaped seat must be no further than 1.5 inches away from the wall. The thickest portion of the seat (the bottom of the "L") and should extend no more than 23 inches from the wall, while the thinnest portion must extend no more than 16 inches. The seat must be wide enough to reach the entire width of the shower enclosure. (ADAAG § 4.21.3 and Fig. 36.)
Shower stalls must have grab bars installed that meet the ADA requirements for all handrails or grab bars. These bars must be between 1.25 and 1.5 inches in diameter and be able to withstand 1,112 newtons of downward force. Bars must be installed between 33 and 36 inches above the shower floor on both the control surface wall and the wall adjacent to the seat. (ADAAG § 4.21.4)
Shower stalls must allow enough room for the person with a disability. The ADA requires accessible stalls have an approach area in front of the stall at least 48 inches long by 36 inches wide. This is to allow for a parallel approach, primarily for those using wheelchairs. There also needs to be at least 12 inches of clear floor space beyond the shower wall on which the seat is mounted. (ADAAG § 4.21.2)
Shower controls and faucets must be located at least 38 inches above the floor. They must be located on the same wall as the shower head, and in an a single access control area no further away from the wall than 18 inches. (ADAAG § 4.21.5)