Restrooms are a vital component of any facility. And providing ADA compliant restrooms that are usable by individuals with disabilities can present challenges, particularly in older facilities.

But, it’s important to note that accessible elements and features will work for everyone. For example, parents pushing baby strollers appreciate accessible entrances with zero steps or level landings. And seniors with arthritis rely on operating controls that do not require tight grasping or twisting to operate.

Providing an accessible restroom that is usable to individuals with disabilities doesn’t have to be difficult. It only requires three components:

• The restroom must be designed in accordance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. If building or redesigning a restroom, facility cleaning managers should make sure that design professionals closely follow the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Saying that they are following “code” is not sufficient. Building Code and ADA Standards are not identical.

Ensure that the design documents and project manuals provide sufficient detail for the contractors to follow correctly. Stating, “create an ADA toilet stall” is insufficient detail on a set of construction documents.

• Creating appropriate design plans isn’t enough. Restrooms must also be constructed in accordance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Make sure that contractors and installers are following the details on the design plans. Being even 1/4-inch off in the placement of a toilet or a paper towel dispenser can make that element unusable for people with disabilities.

• The restroom must be maintained in accordance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. This third component is often the biggest challenge for facility cleaning managers. The ADA requires “maintenance of accessible features,” which involves the cooperation of anyone who does any work in the restrooms.

A restroom harbors many “barriers” that fall into ADA regulations. Often the most overlooked are movable items such as trash receptacles. But simple process improvements when handling these items can guarantee the facility remains in compliance.

To adhere to the ADA, the cleaning staff must ensure that these movable items aren’t placed where clear floor space is required. For example, placing a trash receptacle under a paper towel dispenser may make sense, but it also blocks access to that dispenser for someone using a walker or a wheelchair.

It has also become common for departments to position a receptacle near the exit of the restroom. The goal is to collect paper towels that have been used to avoid touching door handles. But, the location of the waste bin can block appropriate access to the door. That floor space needs to be kept clear so that someone using a walker or a wheelchair can approach and exit the room without problem.

In addition to movable items, paper and soap dispensers, as well as hand dryers fixated on restroom walls fall under “barriers” in ADA regulations. There are specific measurement requirements for these dispensers, which must be taken into account when placing dispensers in the restroom.

Fixtures such as dispensers and hand dryers cannot protrude more than 4 inches off the wall if they are mounted between 27 and 80 inches above the floor. Also, the highest allowed height of the dispenser’s operating control is 48 inches above the floor. If the unit itself is deeper than 4 inches, make sure that it is not placed in the path of someone approaching the sink or door, as that is a protruding object for someone with a visual disability.

*repost from www.cleanlink.com