Unless you spend your days in a wheelchair, it may not occur to you that there are many things you take for granted. Just trying to get into a room can be a challenge, and many who use wheelchairs must make special accommodations to their homes to allow them to move about freely and complete their daily tasks.
If you are a business owner in California, you must be particularly aware of how you can provide accessibility for all your patrons. Not only is this an ethical decision, but the law requires it under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whether you are constructing a new building for your business or are remodeling an older structure to comply with ADA rules, your bathrooms may need special consideration.
What are the rules?
ADA is a federal law that provides specific guidelines for making public areas accessible to those with physical challenges. For example, in many cases, a typical bathroom stall is not large enough to allow a wheelchair to enter, turn and exit. It can be frustrating and demoralizing to have to struggle to do something as basic as using the rest room. For this reason, ADA requires the following in any public bathroom:
- Bathrooms must be large enough for a wheelchair to enter, make a 180 degree turn and allow clear space under fixtures for a wheelchair to pull up.
- At least one wash basin fixture must be 34 inches high or lower with at least 17 inches from the wall behind it.
- One bathroom stall must have sufficient space for a wheelchair to reach the front or side of the toilet with a toilet seat no lower than 17 inches.
- The flush mechanism on the toilet must be within reach on the open side of the toilet.
- Bathrooms must include a securely attached grab bar about one and a half inches in diameter.
- Hand dryers must be motion activated and installed to protrude no more than four inches from the wall to prevent a visually impaired person from walking into them and becoming injured.
The rules under ADA are quite specific, including precise measurements for rooms and fixtures. Failing to meet these requirements can mean a costly lawsuit. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that some people scope businesses looking for ADA violations just so they can file lawsuits against them. Because of this, you may consider hiring a certified access specialist to ensure your business meets every regulation under ADA.