This is part one of a three-part article about ADA compliance in the restroom.

Mega toilet paper rolls and the dispensers that house them are the bane of Joan Stein’s existence.
 
She understands their convenience, but the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) expert says giant roll towel or tissue dispensers often fail to meet ADA standards when they are installed in restrooms.

“They are my nemesis because they take up too much room and they protrude too far from the wall or partition in the toilet stall,” says Stein, the president of Stein Consulting, Inc., in Pittsburgh. “Anytime something protrudes, it’s a barrier for somebody with a physical disability … or someone with a visual disability.”

Therein lies the rub for jan/san distributor sales representatives, who are accustom to using the size of large dispensers as a selling point, telling their clients that they need them because they reduce refill and maintenance costs.

“But unfortunately, people don’t think about accessibility as one of their needs,” she says.

According to experts like Stein, jan/san distributors should not stop selling large dispensers. They should instead become well versed in ADA restroom compliance. This will allow them to understand when a large dispenser must be accompanied by an ADA compliant dispenser and when to utilize a recess kit for large dispensers. Understanding ADA compliance will help their clients avoid dissatisfied users, complaints and lawsuits. After all, if a facility is not in compliance, the facility is at risk of a lawsuit, not the manufacturer of the non-compliant dispenser, says Stein.

“It’s not rocket science, but it requires you to think,” she says.