Federal Requirements for Handicapped Bathrooms

By Christopher Mahar
Special equipment is necessary for handicapped bathrooms.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed by Congress in 1990 is a federal law that outlines, among other things, handicap bathroom requirements. Title III of the ADA covers public accommodations and services operated by private entities. It includes The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), which contains rules on the number and dimensions of handicapped bathrooms necessary for a business or a public building and the equipment that those bathrooms must contain.

Floor Space

If a bathroom is provided, there must be at least 30 inches by 48 inches of floor space available in at least one bathroom. Handicap accessible bathrooms must be able to accommodate at least a 60 inch diameter turning space for a wheelchair.

Toilets

If a toilet is provided, at least one toilet must be handicap accessible. If it is in a stall, the compartment must be at least 60 inches wide. The toilet should be approachable in a wheelchair from the side or the front. Horizontal grab bars must be provided at the back of the toilet and on the nearest wall. Seats should be 17 to 19 inches above the floor.

Urinals

Urinals can be either stall type or hung on a wall. If there are only wall-hung urinals one must be no more than 17 inches above the ground. The flusher cannot be over 44 inches above the ground.

Sinks

At least one sink must go beyond 17 inches from the back wall. Clearance under the sink must be at least 29 inches and the counter top cannot be over a height of 34 inches. The sink must be within two inches of the front edge of the counter top.

Mirrors

At least one mirror should be mounted with the bottom edge no higher than 40 inches off the floor.

Exposed Plumbing

All exposed plumbing must be insulated or configured to protect against contact. There can be no sharp or abrasive surfaces under counters or sinks.

About the Author

Christopher Mahar earned a bachelor's degree from Skidmore College and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from NYU. His first job out of school was writing for "The Harlem Valley Times" in Dutchess County. Since then, Mahar has worked in public relations and as an adjunct professor in NYU's writing department.

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