April: Accessible Restrooms (We need more than grab bars)
An accessible restroom is essential to hosting an accessible community event, meeting, or training.
Many people think that any restroom with grab bars is accessible to people with disabilities, but that is not true.
An “accessible” restroom complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards. And the 2010 ADA Standards have regulations covering every part of the toilet and sink area to ensure that it will meet the needs of a wide range of people with mobility disabilities.
The regulations about restrooms include the floor space, the toilet height, the space under the sink, the type of faucet used, and even the placement of the toilet paper roll!
Want to find out more? Check out this great 7-minute animation from the Access board on accessible toilet rooms. (You may have to pause it and let it buffer.) https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-sites/about-the-ada-standards/guide-to-the-ada-standards#
While that may look like a lot to consider, remember that the ADA Standards are minimum requirements for accessibility, and even following these rules still leave some people out.
The only way to be sure absolutely sure space is compliant with the 2010 ADA Standards is to have it assessed by someone who has been trained in the Standards, but there are some dead giveaways for when a space is not compliant.
- The restroom or stall doorway is too narrow (less than 32”) for a wheelchair user to get inside
- There is not enough room for a wheelchair to back up next to the toilet (This includes putting a trash can in the “big empty space.” Please don’t do this!)
- There is no knee and toe space under the sink for a wheelchair user to roll up and wash their hands
- The toilet seat is too low. (outside of 17-19 inches high)
- The handles on the doors, stalls, and faucets need a pinching or twisting motion to operate (like a knob).