Updated: Feb 24
Accessibility has come a long way since the first public restroom was introduced nearly 200 years ago in London’s Crystal Palace in 1851.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) issued - A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities in 1961, creating the first design standard for public restrooms. It was basic, but, for individuals with disabilities, it was a start.
It took another 29 years for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to be signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, followed by the first publication of the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).
Since that first publication of ADAAG, Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc. has been committed to providing the most up-to-date information on accessible and compliant restroom design.
This year, we are pleased to announce the fourth edition of our Planning Guide for Accessible Restrooms is now available. This 2022 update includes includes important changes that come from the 2017 Edition of ICC A117.1 2017, Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities.
ADA sets the minimum requirements – both scoping and technical – for newly designed and constructed or altered state and local government facilities, public accommodations and commercial facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.
In restroom design this means some of each type of fixture or feature – as well as the installation location – must meet accessibility requirements. When it comes to accessibility, there are a number of provisions that architects, designers, specifiers, building owners and facility/property managers must follow from two primary sources:
2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (referred to as 2010 ADA Standards)
2017 Edition of ICC A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities (certified by the American National Standards Institute or ANSI and referred to as 2017 ICC Standards)
Bobrick’s Planning Guide released in February 2022 breaks down 13 key changes including dimensional requirements for new buildings.
Bobrick believes it’s important to promote accessible design. That’s why we’ve made our fourth edition of the Planning Guide free and easy to access on our website.
In this edition, we’ve added new features to make it easier to understand, including a table of contents and numerous new illustrations. Below is a breakdown of additional key updates available when you download your free copy.
Reference to ICC A 117.1 – 2017 Accessibility Standards: For the first time, the 2017 ICC standards make a distinction between some dimensional requirements for new buildings and existing buildings.
Federal Buildings: Not covered by the ADA, federal buildings follow the provisions of the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), and we’ve created a section that addresses this.
Hygiene, Health and Wellness: After accessibility compliance, restrooms should be designed and maintained to support hygiene best practices.
Shifting Demographics: A significant shift in demographics has occurred since the ADA was put into law.
Multigenerational Restrooms: As the U.S. becomes increasingly diverse, facilities must accommodate by becoming more inclusive as the Multigenerational Restrooms section indicates.
Clear Floor Spaces: A wide variety of changes have been made to the 2017 ICC Standards for new buildings based on the increased size of three basic space requirements:
1. Wheelchair clear floor space
2. Circular wheelchair turning space
3. T-shaped wheelchair turning space
Obstructed Reach Range Solutions: The 2017 ICC Standards require altered installation heights and locations for paper towel dispensers and hand dryers installed adjacent to accessible lavatories. Additionally, the 2017 ICC Standards require that soap dispenser controls and faucets that serve certain accessible lavatories - in larger restrooms determined by scoping such as IBC to require an enhanced reach range - need to be installed at a certain reach depth.
Alternate Wheelchair Accessible Toilet Compartment: The 2017 ICC Standards include a new Alternate Wheelchair Accessible Toilet Compartment to accommodate wheelchair use.
Ambulatory Accessible Toilet Compartment: The 2010 ADA Standards and the 2017 ICC Standards now both require 35–37 inches wide compartment interior dimension to accommodate the needs of people who are ambulatory. Additional requirements including toilet placement, an outswing door and other features are outlined for complete design.
Toe Clearance: Toe Clearance has been increased in the 2017 ICC Standards, while the toe clearance for the 2010 ADA Standards remains the same.
Full Height Partitions: There is an increasing interest in full-height partitions for improved privacy, and the 2017 ICC Standards for these partitions are addressed in detail with illustrations.
Exception added to Toilet Tissue Dispensers: Updated specifications on the optional placement of toilet tissue dispensers.
Individual Toilet Room with Adult Changing Station: An adjustable height adult changing station can be located in individual toilet rooms.
Transfer Shower Compartments: The clear floor space changes in the 2017 ICC Standard also apply to the space requirements in front of a transfer shower. There are specific dimensions outlined for new and existing buildings to satisfy 2017 ICC and 2010 ADA Standards.
Signage: Specifications of using the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA)
Layout figures: We’ve provided full illustrations of these new changes with and without Bobrick product recommendations.
Helping architects navigate design changes in restroom accessibility has been a 30-year mission for Bobrick. We work with a wide variety of experts to interpret these changes so we can continue to be a trusted partner for architects in restroom design.
If you’re familiar with a previous edition of the Planning Guide for Accessible Restrooms, our 2022 edition will be even easier to digest.
Changes in standards for restroom accessibility are inevitable. Bobrick continually monitors industry updates for future planning guides. In the meantime, be sure download a free copy of the 2022 Planning Guide for Accessible Restrooms at www.bobrick.com/pqar.
About the Author
Alan Gettelman Vice President, External Affairs Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc. 6901 Tujunga Avenue North Hollywood, CA 91605-6213 818.951.5959
All are invited to reach out to Alan for further information/discussion about the topic.
Alan Gettelman is Vice President of External Affairs at Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc., where he previously served as Vice President of Marketing. Since joining Bobrick’s sales promotion department in 1962, Gettelman has played a key role in the expansion of its product line and spearheaded marketing efforts facing distinct market segments, including architects, building owners, property managers and facility managers. Today, Gettelman is responsible for counseling on preparation of architectural specifications and on fire codes, building codes and accessibility standards compliance, as well as providing expertise in the areas of product development and marketing strategy.