Typically, when building owners, designers, and architects plan for ADA requirements, they think about guests in wheelchairs.
Universal design asks you to go beyond that, to compose a space that is functional for all users no matter their physical circumstances or stage of life. It’s about creating an atmosphere of inclusivity. A public restroom that does not adhere to universal design principles can leave many feeling as though their needs are not important to the building owner.
When designing a commercial bathroom, you should plan to accommodate a variety of needs.
- Mobility Equipment: In addition to wheelchair accessibility, consider how people navigate when using a walker, crutches, cane, or even scooter. Are your doorways wide enough? Is there a convenient place, close to your plumbing fixtures, to rest a cane or crutches within easy reach?
- Balance Issues: Many people, both young and old, experience balance problems—Learning to maneuver while wearing a cast, a new medication that causes dizziness, or any number of other health issues. Grab bars are immensely useful for keeping balance and go a long way towards helping users avoid falls, both inside the stalls and out.
- Height: Consider the height at which you install your plumbing fixtures. Can those who are short or very tall use them easily—or at all? A user who is four feet tall may not be able to see into the mirror or reach the paper towels or hand dryer. On the other hand, someone over six feet may find the sink uncomfortably low.
- Weight: Can your toilets adequately and safely hold the weight of a large or heavy individual? Porcelain fixtures are not only more delicate but should they break under a heavy load they can cause serious injury to the user. Consider stainless steel toilets and if you use wall mounted fixtures, be sure to match them with the proper carrier.
- Strength and Flexibility: If you’ve never had arthritis you likely don’t know how difficult something like opening a heavy door or turning on a faucet can be. Ideally, you should be able to manage both these obstacles with the push of a finger.
- Those in Need of Assistance: We’re all familiar with family bathrooms where parents can assist their children, but have you considered that some people who have some of the issues we’ve already mentioned need assistance from their caregivers? It’s good practice to provide access to bathroom accommodations that are roomy enough for two people.
- Visual Impairments: Walking into an unfamiliar room presents challenges to those who are visually impaired. Protruding objects like hand dryers and paper towel dispensers can be hazardous. Follow ADA guidelines for placement and consider adding signage in braille.
Purchase products with several options for mounting, configuration, and space-saving attributes. When you choose products based on what works best for the application instead of trying a one-size-fits-all approach, everyone can easily use the space.
For more information about Neo-Metro and our commercial plumbing products, please contact us.