Read these 10 Handicap Restrooms Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Public Restrooms tips and hundreds of other topics.
Choose trash receptacles with lids that don't require more than 5 pounds of force to open, especially for handicap bathrooms that need to meet ADA restroom requirements. To allow people in wheelchairs to reach the trash receptacle from both the front and side of the chair, the opening of the trash receptacle should be 15-48 inches (380-1220 mm) above the floor. Also, when considering handicap bathroom design, place trash receptacles that protrude more than 4 inches from the wall in corners or alcoves so they don't interfere with wheelchair mobility.
A correctly placed soap dispenser is an essential handicap bathroom accessory. To accommodate people in wheelchairs, install a wall-mounted soap dispenser so that the push buttons to dispense the soap are no higher than 44 inches (1120 mm) about the floor. Also, be sure that soap dispensers in handicap bathrooms can be operated with one hand, and that they don't require more than a few pounds of force or excessive twisting of the wrist to access the soap.
If the handicap bathroom design allows for two or more automatic dryers, place one so the start button (if not a touchless model) is 38-40 inches (965-1220 mm) above the floor and place others at 41-48 inches (1040-1220 mm) in an alternating pattern of higher and lower with room to accommodate left-handed and right-handed wheelchair approaches.
When a handicap restroom has just one automatic dryer be sure to allow 30x48 inches (760x1220 mm) of clear floor space so to accommodate both right- and left-handed wheelchair approaches.
An automatic dryer may be more useful as a handicap bathroom fixture than a paper towel dispenser. Touchless, motion-sensor models can be purchased from several manufacturers such as American Dryer, Sani-Flow, and Excel. If push-button dryers are installed in handicap bathrooms, they must not require more than 5 pounds of force to push, and should be operable with one hand. The start button for a handicap accessible hand dryer should be 38-40 inches (760x1220 mm) above the floor in accordance with ADA restroom requirements.
One of the principles of handicap bathroom design involves allowing enough space for a wheelchair to turn around. The minimum turning space for a wheelchair is about 60 inches in diameter (1525 mm) for the average wheelchair.
When determining handicap bathroom dimensions, be sure that any wall unit, such as a hand dryer, tampon dispenser, or paper towel dispenser, that extends more than 4 inches from the wall be located between or next to other protruding fixtures such as sinks, or placed in corners or alcoves. This design strategy keeps the units from intruding on a wheelchair's turn space and reduces the risk that visually impaired people will bump into them.
Toilet paper rolls are the best choice for public restrooms, since they allow easy access to the toilet paper by all users of the facilities. The folded tissue style of toilet paper dispenser is not effective as a handicap bathroom fixture because it requires a finger pinching action that may be difficult for an impaired person. Install toilet tissue dispensers so the center line of the dispenser is at least 19 inches (915 mm) above the floor and so the forward edge of the dispenser is not more than 36 inches (485 mm) from the back wall of the handicap toilet.
A paper towel dispenser is an important handicap bathroom fixture, either by itself or as an accompaniment to an automatic dryer. To meet criteria established by the Americans With Disabilities Act, install paper towel dispensers 15-48 inches (380-1,220 mm) above the floor. This height allows people in wheelchairs to access the towels by reaching forward or to the side.
Some public restrooms provide shower facilities, and shower seats are necessary if the handicap bathrooms are going to include showers. Handicap bathroom supply stores provide folding shower seats. Provide L-shaped folding shower seats for shower stalls that are 36x36 inches (915mm) to comply with ADA restroom requirements. Mount a shower seat on the wall of the shower opposite the temperature control knobs at a height of 17-19 inches (430-485 mm) above the floor. Be sure that the seat allows enough space for a shower curtain at the front of the shower stall. Avoid skimpy seats; a shower seat and mounting device should be able to support 250 pounds.
Women will appreciate this handicap bathroom accessory: A tampon/sanitary napkin dispenser. Install the unit at a height similar to the paper towel or dryer unit, approximately 40 inches (1220 mm) above the floor. Be sure that the knob on the dispenser can be turned with a loose grip and doesn't need more than 5 pounds of force. And don't forget the tampon/napkin disposal boxes for the handicap toilet. Without the disposal boxes, public restroom users may flush their feminine hygiene products, which can lead to nasty toilet clogs.
When planning handicap bathroom dimensions, be sure to consider general guidelines for people with disabilities to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) restroom requirements. For example, ADA guidelines state that doors should be at least 32 inches, preferably 36 inches (915 mm) to accommodate a wheelchair.
Also, door handles on handicap stalls in public restrooms should be no more than 48 inches (1220 mm) above the floor.
If a public restroom cannot be designed to accommodate handicapped persons, install signage on or near the door to direct people to the closest available handicapped public restroom.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|