School and university restrooms, locker and shower rooms have specific ADA accessibility requirements that serve the needs of staff, students and campus visitors who are disabled as a result of injury, illness or age. Taking good care of them is good for your reputation as a sensitive community institution, and fosters positive public relations. Adherence to accessibility guidelines also helps schools comply with civil-rights law, which is enforceable by the Department of Justice.
Following are some recommendations for accessible school washrooms:
While particularly appropriate for K to 6, reach ranges for children have relevance to education institutions at all levels because many campuses have become community centers used by the general population. Also, gymnasiums and stadiums, from middle and high school to colleges and universities, should be family-friendly.
Figure 3: Children's reach ranges
Specifications for water closets serving children ages 3 to 12
Revised guidelines were published by the Access Board (U. S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board) in July 2004, but they are not enforceable until adopted by the Department of Justice. Nevertheless, it serves the planner well to be apprised in advance, often preventing costly retrofitting following new construction and renovation. Also, always submit plans to city and state accessibility-code compliance authorities.
Gettelman is vice president, marketing, for Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc., North Hollywood, Calif. For a free copy of the Barrier-Free Planning Guide, call (800)553-1600, or visit their Web site. The guide, written by architectural and specification experts at the Center For Universal Design at North Carolina State University and Universal Design Solutions, Raleigh, N.C., is a "translation" of the guidelines and provides easy-to-follow layout examples.