ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)
Many times when there’s an issue with clients who may be having trouble negotiating a tight squeeze in the bathroom, the question they often ask is, “why didn’t you make this ADA compliant?” While ADA specifications can be ideal for some clients, those guidelines require that the home be quite sizable in order to comply.
For example, one ADA guideline requires that the space be a large, unobstructed and wide open area, 5’ in diameter. So, imagine the diameter of your outstretched arms, while you turn 360 degrees around, without touching anything. The standard bathroom is 5’ x 8’, which typically includes a vanity, toilet and a tub! For most bathrooms, the only “large, unobstructed, wide open” area is going to be approximately 2’ in diameter.
Universal Design (Design that accommodates to the greatest extent – all people – regardless of age, body type, or level of ability)
Admittedly, I’m about to paint a difficult and complicated subject with a broad stroke, but here it goes:
Universal design is the kinder, gentler version of the ADA. It feels better, it looks better and it strives to create an environment where an individual can function, without the stringent guidelines and measurements required by a very rigid and specific set of rules and laws.
It adds – as far as construction is concerned – some very imaginative ways to make an area “accessible” without looking clinical or industrial.
A good example of universal design would be a wheelchair ramp that is built in such a way that you would not immediately notice that it is even a ramp. It may feel like a sidewalk – with a nice tall privacy fence – that hides the slope.
Another example may be a kitchen counter that allows a wheelchair to roll under, but simply looks like an extension of the countertop for a sitting area.
Making It Work
We often see people coming up with their own ideas and makeshift ways to manage immobility.
Some of these include:
- Grabbing a hold of a certain piece of household furniture to traverse a tedious area. There’s usually a hand print on the furniture, pointing to the many years of use in this manner.
- Putting a huge, old phone book on the floor, in front of a step, so it’s not so high.
- Holding on to a towel bar that’s only screwed into drywall, with tiny screws, to keep from slipping in the bathroom.
- We received a call last week from a customer that wanted us to put a post in his yard, so he could tie a rope to it, and this was all he needed to get down his sidewalk safely.
While we do not encourage or condone these homemade solutions due to the fact that they can foster bad habits and lead to very dangerous situations, we do understand that sometimes people make do with what they’ve got and don’t necessarily know who to call or where to start.
Making modifications to your own home can be a mixture of all of the above. We don’t force our customers into a box, but would rather think imaginatively and work with you to create a safe, sustainable and beautiful environment.
At Promise Home Works, we provide customers with safe solutions for their bathrooms, stairs and all areas of their homes. We use our years of experience, our caring and certified home access professionals and our own employee crews to create a home that will adhere to your evolving life-style. Whether you require a complete bathroom remodel or just a few grab bars, we can help you today.