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ADA Consulting of SWFL LLC

ACCESSIBLE HOUSING GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

Seek professional advice to analyze your unique situation. Occupational therapists, interior designers, architects, and remodelers with firsthand knowledge of accessibility issues can offer solutions and suggestions to make the renovation or building process easier. You may also contact your local ADA.

For additional dimensions for all modifications, refer to: Florida Accessibility code: Florida statutes: http://www.floridabuilding.org/fbc/committees/accessibility/aac/Changes_to_Law/2012_Florida_Accessibility_Code_Final%20.pdf

1. Design and construct new disability accessible homes for life-long living and freedom, based on physical and lifestyle needs.

•Accessible additions.

•Barrier free remodeling.

•Designing and installing wheelchair ramps.

•Barrier free bathrooms.

•Disability accessible kitchens.

•Installing adaptive equipment

 

2. Access to your home

  • Avoid step-ups or stairs, flat non-slip surfaces
  • Quality Wheelchair Ramps, 1:12 and Lifts if needed
  • Barrier free route from parking location, wide sidewalks, or hard surface 36” if possible
  • Well lit access route
  • If possible, there should be no threshold in the doorway. If it can’t be avoided, select a flat threshold that is no more than ¼ inch high, or one that is beveled on both sides and no greater than ¾ inch high. (a threshold transition pad is available)
  • An easy way to increase accessibility is to install easy-to-grasp lever door handles on all doors.

3. Accessibility in your home

  • Using offset door hinges are a more affordable way to increase door widths by about 2" which is often enough to provide the necessary width for a wheelchair or walker to pass through the doorway or hallway, minimum 32”, best 36” and the use of pocket doors where achievable.
  • An easy way to increase accessibility is to install easy-to-grasp lever door handles on all doors.
  • Hard surfaces throughout home, no rugs.
  • Railings in hall ways if needed.
  • Electrical light / fan switches at proper height, 48”, and at entrance and exit to a room (if at different location)
  • Electrical outlets at proper height 15” minimum, 18” to top of outlet.
  • Window design (Florida-impact glass, no shutters, unless electric)
  • Electric hurricane shutters
  • New technology—talking home (thermostats that adjust by voice control or home and controlled by a tablet)

Accessible Bathrooms

Standard bathrooms are typically small, efficient spaces. Wheelchair users need larger bathrooms to allow for maneuvering, easily and safely.

  • Wheelchair accessible bathrooms require at least 5 feet (60") in diameter to make a 180 degree turn.
  • To conserve space, a T-shaped turning space with aisles 36" wide allowing a three-point turn is also acceptable.
  • A portion of the diameter or T-shaped turning space may be located under fixtures as long as the required knee and toe clearance is provided. The space can be positioned for a forward or parallel approach to equipment.
  • Bathroom vanities should provide an area and sink at no more than 34” with the sink properly positioned, lever handles and allowable toe clearance, 17” (if open to piping, insulation provided)
  • Toilets at 19” height, located no more than 16” to 18” from the wall to the centerline of the unit.

Non-slip Surfaces

Bathroom floors can be very slippery, especially when wet.

  • Use non-slip flooring and bathing surfaces.
  • Many accessible showers and bathtubs come with slip resistant surfaces.
  • Sheet vinyl flooring is also a good choice, since it is smooth and easy to clean.
  • If using ceramic tile, select large, smooth tiles to minimize grout lines and surface irregularities, and look for a non-slip surface texture.

Bathroom Safety Grab Bars

Grab bars are a great way to make any bathroom safer for everyone.

  • Install grab bars next to the toilet and in bathing areas.
  • Wall-mounted grab bars should be 1-1/4" to 1-1/2" in diameter. The space between the grab bar and wall should be 1-1/2".
  • A 3’ horizontal grab bar can be placed on the wall behind the toilet, and a second 42” one on the wall beside the toilet. (Exceptions to length do exist) 33” to 36” height.
  • Grab bars should also be placed inside bathtub and shower enclosures.
  • If you are remodeling or building new and the walls are open, be sure to provide wood blocking in the walls for reinforcement of the grab bars.

Safe Comfortable Bathing

There are many easy and inexpensive ways to improve the safety and comfort of your bathroom.

  • Adding a tub seat or transfer bench in your existing tub is an inexpensive way to allow a person to sit while bathing, providing greater stability.
  • A transfer bench outside the tub allows a person to sit on the bench from outside the tub, slide over the bench, and then slide their legs into the tub.
  • Lever controlled taps can easily be added to the shower, bathtub and sink.
  • Adding a hand-held shower head improves water control and allows the shower to remain accessible to everyone in the family.
  • A pressure balanced mixing valve with anti-scald temperature controls allows for a constant water temperature, which will help users with limited sensation in their bodies less susceptible to burns

Walk in Bath Tubs

Walk in tubs have become popular

These “sit up style” bathtubs offer people a low 4-6 inch step instead of stepping over and into a standard tub.

  • Walk in tubs are a great option for people who prefer to rehab at home with water or air jets, creating a personal therapeutic spa.
  • While walk in tubs are popular, often a safer and more economical solution is to install a roll in shower

Accessible Roll in Showers

Accessible showers are designed for residential applications.

  • Roll-in showers make it possible for a person with a disability to wheel into the curb-less shower, then transfer, with or without assistance to a wall mounted shower chair.
  • Alternatively, the user can transfer to a shower chair then roll into the shower stall with assistance if needed.
  • When the shower floor is level with the bathroom floor both individuals with disabilities as well as people of all abilities can enjoy safe and comfortable bathrooms.
  • Accessible bathtub replacement shower models have a 60" outside dimension as they are designed to utilize the bathroom framing around 5 foot tubs, and fit well into standard bathrooms.

 

 

Accessible kitchens

Universal kitchen design makes the space accessible and easy to use by anyone, including people who are disabled or challenged by mobility or stature. The biggest obstacles to designing a disability accessible kitchen are access to sinks, cabinets, countertops and appliances which are usually not usable for people who are sitting or in a wheelchair.

There are many innovative designs, electrically lowered cabinets, counters that lower, etc.

Lower cabinets

  • The usual height at the top of a wheelchair armrest is approximately 29". This measurement is important so you can customize countertop height. The recommended countertop height is a minimum of 28" and should be no higher than 34" (32" is preferred).
  • Space for knees requires at least a 24" height from the floor and approximately 30" in width.
  • For a 24" standard countertop depth, the first 16" is considered to be easy access for the user—the remainder is useful for storage.
  • Accessible electrical switches or motion detected.

Kitchen Wall Cabinets

  • Lowering the wall cabinets from the standard 18 inches above the counter to counter height makes the second shelf accessible for everyday use for most people.
  • Mount or lower wall cabinets closer to the countertop and include pull-out cutting boards, slide-out or roll-out shelves and baskets, and drawers with full extension glides.
  • An ADA cabinet should meet the reach and mounting height criteria specified by ADAAG.
  • Newer technology makes adjustable kitchen wall cabinets available, which automatically lower upper cabinets to a reachable level, alternatively shelving lifts can be installed to lower shelves to the counter level.

Appliances

  • Side opening oven doors.
  • Side opening refrigerator doors.
  • Lever style faucet handles.Raise the dishwasher 6" to 8" off the floor and locate the unit so it is accessible from either side.
  • An appliance lift is a simple way to make standard appliances more accessible.
  • For a wheelchair user, you want to lower or install the wall oven and microwave so they are approximately 31" from the floor. Install an electric cook top unit with staggered burners and mount the controls on the top front or below the unit to eliminate reaching across hot burners.
  • For a range, look for a slanted control panel with recessed control knobs that are easy to hold and to turn. Front positioning of knobs and control panel signal lights will make the range easier and safer for those in wheelchairs. If possible, make the oven accessible from either side or search out an oven with a side-hinged door.

Other considerations when designing an accessible kitchen:

  • A cranking, casement type window is easier to open than the standard double hung style.
  • Glare-free lighting, cabinets, and low-gloss counter laminate improve usability.
  • Switches and thermostats should be installed no higher than 48" off the floor.
  • Place electrical outlets no lower than 15" off the floor.

Doorways and Hallways

  • Installing a 36-inch door makes the rooms accessible to someone in a wheelchair or a walker. Entry doors should have a minimum 32" net opening measured from the doorstop to the door's face when the door is in a 90° open position. The installation of "swing clear" hinges will create a clear door opening.
  • Use a lever-style door handle and remember that the force required to push or pull interior doors open should not exceed five pounds

Kitchen Aisle Width

  • A width of 42" instead of 36" allows several people to work in the kitchen at the same time; allowing someone to get around a person in a wheelchair.
  • A front-to-back measurement, including footrests, determines the wheelchair turning radius required. The turning radius is normally 60" (25 square feet) for a full 360° turn.

Measurements should be checked against the Florida Accessibility Code as well as your local and State building codes.