Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tight grasping and twisting of wrist?

When design professionals select accessories for restrooms there are many factors to decide upon for the selection.  It is not enough that it functions the way you want, and look good in the restroom, but they also have to keep in mind a "universal" user.  Who all will be using this fixture?  Adults, children, elderly people, people who can't see?  And each one of those groups of people will bring with them their own needs and requirements.

What if the adult has a disability?  What if the elderly person has arthritis?  How do you accommodate for both children who need to reach the fixture and maybe a tall adult who may have a hard time bending down to reach it?

One example of this is a femenine napkin dispenser.  There are several types that one can select, but only one is truly universal.  The type that is recessed (so that a blind person would not bump into it since they can't see it) and its mechanism does not require that a person grasps tightly, or twist their wrist to operate.

The challenge comes from the fact that everyone uses the public restrooms, and the design professionals cannot dictate how people will use it.  Being sensitive to universal design criteria and the model codes as well as the ADAAG will assist in the process. 

Here is a video of an inspection I performed where the vending machine did meet the requirements and did pass as accessible.

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