Archive for March, 2010

Side Wall Grab Bar at Water Closet where Insufficient Wall Space is Provided

Friday, March 26th, 2010

ACCESS has seen accessible bathrooms where the side wall of the water closet has a door opening preventing the installation of a 42 inch long grab bar projecting 54 inches off of the back wall.

The jurisdiction is ADAAG Sections 604.5.1 and 103.

Chapter 6 plumbing elements and facilities.

604 Water Closets and Toilet Compartments.

604.5 Grab Bars.

604.5.1 Side Wall.

“The side wall grab bar shall be 42 inches long minimum, located 12 inches maximum from the rear wall and extending 54 inches minimum from the rear wall.”

There is a requirement in ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003, Section 604.5.1 for a vertical grab bar at the side wall.  In the opinion of ACCESS, using Section 103 Equivalent Facilitation (see below), and the analysis of ANSI Figure C604.3.1(b) regarding the elements of a front or diagonal transfer, the addition of the vertical grab bar in conjunction with the horizontal grab bar on the side wall results in substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability of the water closet.  ACCESS suggests using a 60 inch long grab bar with a 90º bend at 36 inches; set that bar so the 24 inch vertical part is 40 inches to the centerline of the 24 inches off the back wall.

Chapter 1 Application and administration.

103 Equivalent Facilitation.

“Nothing in these guidelines prevents the use of designs, products, or technologies as alternatives to those prescribed, provided they result in substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability.”

The above are opinions of Hank Falstad, AIA, Managing Senior Associate of Access Technologies Services, Inc. (ACCESS).  See our web site for additional information:  www.accessts.net.

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Design and Height of Shower Spray Unit in Transfer Type Shower Compartment

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

The jurisdiction is ADAAG Section 608.5.1, 608.6, and 308.2.1.

Chapter 6 Plumbing Elements and facilities.

608 Shower Compartments.

608.5 Controls.

608.5.1 Transfer Type Shower Compartments.

“In transfer type shower compartments, the controls, faucets, and shower spray unit shall be installed on the side wall opposite the seat 38 inches minimum and 48 inches maximum above the shower floor and shall be located on the control wall 15 inches maximum from the centerline of the seat toward the shower opening.”

608 Shower Compartments.

608.6 Shower Spray Unit and Water.

“A shower spray unit with a hose 59 inches long minimum that can be used both as a fixed-position shower head and as a hand-held shower shall be provided.  The shower spray unit shall have an on/off control with a non-positive shut-off.  If an adjustable-height shower head on a vertical bar is used, the bar shall be installed so as not to obstruct the use of grab bars.  Shower spray units shall deliver water that is 120ºF maximum.”

Chapter 3 building blocks.

308 Reach Ranges.

308.2 Forward Reach.

308.2.1 Unobstructed.

“Where a forward reach is unobstructed, the high forward reach shall be 48 inches maximum and the low forward reach shall be 15 inches minimum above the finish floor or ground.”

In the opinion of ACCESS, shower spray units mounted on sliding bars are not in compliance with Section 308.2.1 because the slide that holds the shower spray unit top is typically mounted above 48 inches; one has to hold the shower spray unit, then reach one hand above 48 inches to lift the shower spray unit off the slide.

The better solution ACCESS has seen is when the shower spray unit is hung on a hook at 44 inches above finish floor, and the shower controller has a diverter valve in conjunction with a fixed shower head.  The diverter valve switches the water flow from the fixed, standard height shower head to the hand-held shower spray unit.

The above are opinions of Hank Falstad, AIA, Managing Senior Associate of Access Technologies Services, Inc. (ACCESS).  See our web site for additional information:  www.accessts.net.

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Jurisdiction for Condominiums which are Included in Hotel Rental Pools

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Question: What is the jurisdiction for accessible condominium units that are put into a hotel rental pool:  (a) Fair Housing Act, or (b) The Americans with Disabilities Act?

Based upon the Marriott opinion letter to William B. Ingersoll of Ingersoll and Block from John R. Dunne, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, (please see the following link:  http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/foia/cltr004.txt), it is the opinion of ACCESS that when the condominium units are put into the hotel rental pool, they operate more like a hotel (transient lodging) than as a residence.  Therefore, the design criteria should be PL101-336, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Thus, the guideline jurisdiction is the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG); Final Rule, plus the IBC 2006 and the ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003.

The above are opinions of Hank Falstad, AIA, Managing Senior Associate of Access Technologies Services, Inc. (ACCESS).  See our web site for additional information:  www.accessts.net.

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Location of Accessible Counters

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Question: Where must the accessible location be at a reception counter?

We begin by looking at the guidelines from the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board). This is a federal board responsible for writing guidelines for compliance to PL101-336, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). That guideline is called the ADA & ABA Accessibility Guidelines; Final Rule of July 23, 2004, with an effective date of September 21, 2004.

Chapter 9 BUILT-IN ELEMENTS.
904 Check-out Aisles and Sales and Service Counters.
904.4 Sales and Service Counters.
904.4.2 Forward Approach.
“A portion of the counter surface that is 30 inches long minimum and 36 inches high maximum shall be provided. Knee and toe space complying with 306 shall be provided under the counter.”

This gives one the building blocks for the design of the accessible counter.

The scoping requirements are found in Chapter 2. In the scoping section, the accessible counter location is not defined.

Chapter 2 Scoping Requirements.
227 Sales and Service.
227.3 Counters.
“Where provided, at least one of each type of sales counter and service counter shall comply with 904.4. Where counters are dispersed throughout the building or facility, counters complying with 904.4 also shall be dispersed.”
Advisory 227.3 Counters.
“Types of counters that provide different services in the same facility include, but are not limited to, order, pick-up, express, and returns. One continuous counter can be used to provide different types of service. For example, order and pick-up are different services. It would not be acceptable to provide access only to the part of the counter where orders are taken when orders are picked-up at a different location on the same counter. Both the order and pick-up section of the counter must be accessible.”

ACCESS then goes to the basic law for guidance and uses the Americans with Disabilities Act Handbook of October 1991. Title III is Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities.

Title III Regulation.
Subpart B – General Requirements.
§36.201 General.
(a) Prohibition of discrimination.
“No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any private entity who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.”

Service counters by their design have an orientation in which they are approached by individuals. That approach direction is frontal in most instances. The service counter by its very nature has a human element, and that is the individual providing the service. There is the eye contact and the waiting line that forms that defines the service counter front. It is and has been for many years the opinion of ACCESS that an individual is discriminated against if the portion of the counter where the general public forms a line does not provide an accessible portion of that service counter.

This is civil rights law, and to date ACCESS knows of no federal court case where a federal judge has ruled on this issue. Also, in the opinion of ACCESS, not having the accessible portion of the counter where the general public line forms is not a winnable position for our clients before a federal judge.

The above are opinions of Hank Falstad, AIA, Managing Senior Associate of Access Technologies Services, Inc. (ACCESS). See our web site for additional information: www.accessts.net.

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Required Bathtub Clearances

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Question: What is the clear floor space required in front of a bathtub?

This is one of these subtle changes we see in moving from the old to the new guidelines.

The ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities written by the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) and published July 26, 1991, Section 4.20.2 states:

4.20 Bathtubs.

4.20.2 Floor Space.

“Clear floor space in front of bathtubs shall be as shown in Figure 33.”

Figure 33 shows a 60 inch minimum dimension.  This dimension is the same dimension as found in Figure 33 of ANSI A117.1-1986.  The ANSI A117.1-1986 was written before 1985, some 25 years ago.

The ADA & ABA Accessibility Guidelines; Final Rule, written by the Access Board and published July 23, 2004, with an effective date of September 21, 2004; in Section 607.2 Clearance states

607 Bathtubs.

607.2 Clearance.

“Clearance in front of bathtubs shall extend the length of the bathtub and shall be 30 inches wide minimum.”  Figure 607.2 illustrates that clearance for bathtubs.

ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003 Section 607.2 Clearance states:

607 Bathtubs.

607.2 Clearance.

“A clearance in front of bathtubs extending the length of the bathtub and 30 inches minimum in depth shall be provided.”  Figure 607.2 illustrates that clearance for bathtubs.


The challenge today is that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is required to litigate compliance to PL101-336, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), from its standard.  The DOJ is in the process of making the July 23, 2004 document its standard, but until that happens, the DOJ is using the July 26, 1991 document, which was made the DOJ standard on July 1, 1994.

The people at ACCESS have specialized in accessibility compliance for the last 16 years and are of the opinion that the ADA is a reasonable act.  The Act is ruled upon by federal judges.

With that understanding by ACCESS, the 60 inch minimum dimension of 25 years ago is not applicable today, in the opinion of ACCESS.

The above are opinions of Hank Falstad, AIA, Managing Senior Associate of Access Technologies Services, Inc. (ACCESS).  See our web site for additional information:  www.accessts.net.

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