The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) has guidelines in place to regulate the construction and compliance of accessible (handicap) bathrooms. SPC put together a short summary of construction and design guidelines for accessible bathrooms. Remember to consult with ADA for other applicable guidelines and required applications.
Installing Grab Bars & Towel Bars
Grab bars are not to be used as towel bars and towel bars are not to be used as grab bars. Make sure the grab bar handrail is fully anchored with a smooth surface that can be grabbed easily. The diameter of the pipe used for the handrail must be between 1-1/4” & 1-1/2”. Also, the grab bar handrails for ADA accessible bathrooms must be installed between 34″ and 38″ off the ground. Don’t forget, there must be a space between the grab bar and the surface where it is located, of at least 1-1/2”. That space will provide room for proper grab. For added security, bars must contain round edges and the handrail must be returned to posts or walls. Round edges will prevent someone from getting hurt by a sharp object.
The Toilet Needs Space
An open space with a minimum dimension of 30″ x 48″ must be provided to accommodate a wheelchair. This space must be designed for a forward (or parallel) approach to the equipment. Be sure to verify that there is enough room and space to allow legs to move freely under those spaces when sitting in a wheelchair. Sometimes the open space can be under current fixtures.
A wheelchair must be able to rotate freely inside a bathroom. For this kind of motion at least 60″ in diameter is required to complete an 180-degree turn. As with the open space, the required space could be computed beneath fixtures.
Toilet Height Requirement (ADA Compliant Bathroom)
Handicap toilets must have a minimum width of 60″ and sufficient space to accommodate a wheelchair to the sides of the toilet or in front of it. Horizontal grab bars are required and must be installed behind the toilet and on the nearest wall. If the required space cannot be achieved due to space restrictions in an existing facility, an alternate compartment is required. Toilet seat heights must be between 17″ & 19″ above the finished floor. The lever for flush control must be placed on the open side of the toilet with the clearest floor space and mounted no higher than 44″ above finished floor.
Installation Height for a Hand Dryer
One of the easiest requirements to comply with is hand dryers. ADA bathroom guidelines provide that hand dryers must be motion activated or touch-free devices. Push-button activated dryers must be removed, especially in public areas where bathrooms should be handicapped accessible. Not complying with ADA guidelines could lead to several fines and other legal actions.
If you are installing new hand dryer equipment, follow ADA design guidelines and regulations. One of the regulations from ADA regulates the location of a hand dryer and its depth from the wall. ADA specifies that the hand dryer must not protrude from the wall more than 4”.
Remember to verify prior to construction with the proper and current required codes and guidelines at the moment of installation for better compliance with the law.