The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 in an attempt to make public facilities accessible to people with physical problems. Standards were developed to ensure people confined to wheelchairs or other disabilities were provided with ample room to maneuver, travel and have access to the same facilities as unchallenged individuals. The specific standards written to address the issues of accessibility in public restrooms are several pages in length and include exceptions and other details. The following are some of the most important and universal.
Doors and Travel
Doors leading to restrooms should be clearly marked as being accessible. The doors must be a minimum of 32 inches wide and any handles or doorknobs be lever operated. Any travel ways or hallways inside the restroom must be a minimum of 36 inches. Any area where a turn of 90 degrees or more is required must be a minimum of 60 inches square.
Toilets and Stalls
Doors to accessible stalls will be a minimum of 32 inches. Inside the stall, a clear space measuring 60-inches square or larger must be provided. The height of the toilet from the floor to the top of the toilet seat needs to be between 17 and 19 inches. Grab bars must be provided to facilitate maneuvering the chair or moving from the chair to the toilet and back. Flush controls can be hand (lever) operated or automatic.
Read More: What Is the Height for ADA Compliant Toilets?
Sinks and Faucets
Sinks must be mounted no higher than 34 inches above the floor with a clear space under the sink or vanity no lower than 29 inches. All pipes and plumbing under a lavatory must be routed to prevent possible contact by a user or insulated and protected to avoid contact with hot pipes or sharp edges. Faucets can be automatic or hand operated by a push button or lever-type actuator.
There are many other standards that need to be met including the positioning of mirrors, towel dispensers, toilet paper holders and soap dispensers. There are ADA standards for urinals, bathtubs, showers, drinking fountains or other accessories that could be incorporated into a restroom design.
Mike Schoonveld has been writing since 1989 with magazine credits including "Outdoor Life," "Fur-Fish-Game," "The Rotarian" and numerous regional publications. Schoonveld earned a Master Captain License from the Coast Guard. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife science from Purdue University.