First of all, in case you've been living under a rock, ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act, and was put in place to prohibit those who have disabilities from being discriminated against. It is set up not only so that businesses will comply by installing handicapped bathrooms, signs and the like, but also so that they have equal employment opportunities as well. And if you're a small business owner, you're only exempt if you have less than 15 full-time employees. However, regardless of your size, it's just the right thing to do. Plus, you're actually opening up your doors to another 12.8-26% of the adult population in the United States.
You can probably guess that an ADA bathroom is the same as a handicapped accessible bathroom. If you're a business in the middle of renovations to become ADA compliant, you may be interested to know some specifics. Hopefully, you're using a contractor who is familiar with ADA requirements, and so most of the worries rest with them. However, it is still a good idea to be familiar with some of the particulars, for your own information and education purposes. After all, if you're the owner, you are ultimately responsible for the correct results. A handicapped bathroom must have a stall with handrails, and be large enough to accommodate a full-size adult wheelchair. You also need an emergency pull-cord or button with the following 3 things:
- Visual and audible indicators to confirm that an emergency call has been received
- A reset control reachable from a wheelchair
- A signal that is visually and audibly distinguishable from the fire alarm
What else is important to know for your ADA compliant bathroom? Let's look at some more specific information.
The ADA Toilet
Those are the basics, but there is much more detail to be discussed. We started out asking what is an ADA toilet? Let's find out. There are specific items that are required for an ADA toilet:
- A raised toilet seat for easier sitting and standing for the disabled
- Tool-free removable arms, for more flexibility to users
- Added height - there is an additional 17"-18" over a standard toilet
- Wider space to accommodate a full-size adult wheelchair and movement within the stall
And that's not all, either. Even the measurements have to be specific.
- The door to the bathroom stall should measure at least 5' X 8'.
- A 60" diameter of clear space in front of the toilet is also required to accommodate the necessary room for the person to transfer from the wheelchair to the toilet. The door cannot swing into this area.
- A grab bar horizontally on the wall beside the toilet must be at least 42" in length. One end must be no farther than 12" from the corner.
- A second horizontal grab bar above and behind the toilet must be 36" in length. One end must be no farther than 6" from the corner. Both of the grab bars must be mounted 33"-36" above the floor.
- The toilet paper dispenser must be mounted 18"-48" above the floor.
- The sanitary disposal should be mounted about the same height as the toilet paper dispenser, somewhere between 15"-48" above the floor.
- The center line of the toilet must be between 16"-18" from the side wall.
- The height of the toilet seat should be 17"-19".
- 30" X 48" access to the sink (the door can’t swing into this rectangle). The measurement starts from the point where a person has 9" vertical clearance for their feet and 27" vertical clearance for their knees.
You're probably beginning to see why it's important to hire a contractor who's familiar with these guidelines. If your business is ever reported, they will do an extensive inspection to make sure every measurement is exactly compliant. If anything is not correct, there are steep fines to pay, not to mention more contracting work to be done. That's why you'll want to get it right the first time.