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May 15, 2008 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is, restroom accessibility.
Numerous areas of institutional and commercial buildings continue to present barriers to accessibility, and restrooms often are high on this list. Facility managers have a series of tested and proven strategies at their disposal to successfully renovate and remodel restrooms to address trouble spots in restrooms and ensure compliance with Americans with Disabilities access guidelines.
One common trouble spot related to restrooms involves signage. Even before building occupants and visitors get to the restroom, codes require directional signage indicate the shortest route. Directional signage provides assistance and information about the location of restrooms for all individuals, but they are especially important for persons with disabilities. In comparison to permanent signage, directional signage does not need Braille and raised lettering. But it must be located at the proper height for viewing.
One common and easy-to-fix compliance item is accessible latch-side signage at a restroom’s entrance. Workers should center latch-side signage at 60 inches on center above the finished floor. All plans should specify that compliant, permanent, latch-side signage contains raised letters and characters, Braille, and the international symbol of accessibility.
While federal requirements specify only latch-side signage, some state codes require additional signage. For example, California requires that doors to restrooms also feature gender symbols — a triangle-shaped sign for men, a circle for women, and a circle on a triangle for unisex restrooms.
One size does not fit all when it comes to restroom accessibility requirements. Remodeling or renovating restrooms to meet accessibility standards and requirements requires research, attention to detail and the selection of products that best meet individual situations.