There are some examples of non-compliant items that facility cleaning managers might currently feature in their restrooms, not knowing that they fail to meet ADA requirements.

For example, many facilities provide feminine hygiene dispensers in their ladies restrooms. Although many of these dispensers claim on the label that they “Meet ADA Requirements,” they do not. The height might be right on the wall, but the operating control (handle) requires tight grasping and twisting of the wrist to operate. This is not in compliance with ADA.

Towel dispensers can also be tricky because of the many varieties available in the marketplace. Not only should facility managers be aware of how far these dispensers protrude from the wall and their distance from the floor, but also be aware of how paper is dispensed. Those that require users to turn dials to dispense paper do not meet compliance requirements.

In addition to fixtures, make sure to double check the mounting heights of all grab bars in accessible toilet rooms and stalls. To comply with the ADA, they must be mounted 33 to 36 inches above the surface of the finished floor to the top of the gripping surface. These are often mistakenly mounted at 36 inches to the centerline of the grab bar, which does not meet the regulation.

It is also important to ensure that the side wall and rear wall bars are mounted at the same height. The long grab bar should be mounted on the side wall, and the shorter one on the rear wall. Also make sure that they are secure in their fittings. These are safety issues in any facility.

If the restroom offers toilet seat covers, make sure that the dispenser does not block access to the grab bar. There must be 12 inches between the grab bar and the bottom of the dispenser.

At the sink, attention should be given to faucet hardware. Older facilities still often use sinks with knobs, which fail to meet ADA rules. Alternative options include faucets with paddle handles or automatic sensors.

Adhering to ADA regulations is not just federal law, it is a smart thing for facility managers to do. There are roughly 56 million people with disabilities in the United States accessing facilities. And efforts of barrier removal do not have to be difficult, or costly.

Under Internal Revenue Code, Section 190, businesses can take a business expense deduction of up to $15,000 per year for costs of removing barriers in facilities. Facilities of all sizes may take advantage of this tax deduction.

Facility cleaning managers should move forward, measure twice and cut once, and make sure facility restrooms are ADA compliant. Customers, visitors and employees will appreciate a user-friendly environment. 

JOAN W. STEIN is president of Stein Consulting, LLC, and provides consulting services to businesses, corporations, non-profits and governmental entities on the Americans with Disabilities Act. She has been recognized as an expert on the ADA in the 3rd and 5th Circuits of the Federal Courts.