Introduction To Ada Specifications And Bathrooms

An overview of making a bathroom ADA standard for the disabled.

In 1990, the Americans with Disability Act was passed in Congress, ushering in a new set of guidelines and regulations for architects, builders, and business owners. With the passage of the ADA, all government offices and general businesses open to the public had to make their facilities accessible to those with handicaps or disabilities. These regulations are enforced by either the Department of Justice or the Department of Transportation.

For most general businesses, complying with these regulations included designating handicap parking, adding wheelchair ramps and modifying the public bathrooms within the building.

The most expensive of these modifications is, of course, the bathroom. The regulations are strict and strident. To pass the requirements at least one type of each feature or fixture must meet the guidelines.

In order to pass the requirements for a public bathroom, the following features or fixtures must be included.

1. Clear Floor Space measuring no less that 30" x 48". This space can be setup from either the front or the side of the equipment being used.

2. Turning space can be no less that a T-shaped area with aisles 36" wide allowing for a three point turn. A normal wheel chair requires a minimum of 60" in diameter to make a complete turn; the T-shaped area reduces the free space needed. Part of this space can be beneath fixtures such as lavatories provided the required knee and toe clearance is observed.

3. In new construction, all bathrooms that include stalls must contain at least one ADA toilet stall that has a minimum width of 60" and provide enough length that allows wheelchair approach from either the front or the side.

Toilet seats cannot be less that 17" or more than 19" above the floor. The flush mechanism has to be placed on the most open side of the toilet and no more than 44" above the floor.

Horizontal grab bars must be positioned no more than 12" from the rear wall, extend at least 40" inches in length and be no more than 36" above the floor.

Urinals in men's restrooms where there is no ADA approved toilet stall must include a wall mounted urinal positioned where the rim is no more than 17" from the floor. Floor space of no less than 30" x 48" must be provided for forward approach.

4. Every washroom must have at least one lavatory that meets or exceeds the ADA regulations. It must be mounted to extend a minimum of 17" from the back wall and have no less than a 29" clearance from the floor. The countertop itself cannot exceed a maximum height of 34". Clear floor space must be no less that 30" wide, 48" deep, with no more than 19" allowed beneath the counter to allow those in wheelchairs access to the facilities.

5. Fixtures on washroom sinks must also meet the ADA standards. All valves, levers, knobs and push buttons must be capable of operating with one hand, without a tight hold or twisting of the wrist. Faucets that shut off automatically must remain open for no less than 10 seconds.

While there are no regulations for a private home, these standards should be followed. For a home bathroom, you would have the addition of a bathtub or shower. Those requirements are:

1. Mounting of handrails or grab bars around the tub or shower. These rails must be positioned no less than 15" above the floor. The rails can be no more than one 1/2" in diameter. The rails cannot rotate inside the fixtures.

2. Handicap showers should include a shower seat that is no more than 19" inches from the floor and at least 36" wide.

While making a home bathroom ADA compliant can be an expensive undertaking, it can make the living conditions for the disabled more pleasant and less stressful for all members of the family.

© High Speed Ventures 2011