I am convinced most business owners want to make their facilities accessible to people with disabilities. I also believe most feel they have a lack of resources to help them do it right and, as a result, often fall short of their goal of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In truth there are a number of resources available; many, often free of charge, come thanks to the Federal Government.
While the minutiae of the Americans with Disabilities Act specify within inches how high from the floor a bathroom mirror should be hung or how tall reception desks should be, many details can appear obvious if checked from the vantage point of the people who will be using them. Certainly you can tell if you are way off the mark.
One of the most common errors I see is the hook on the inside of the door of the accessible bathroom stall. When there is such a hook, and I recommend having a hook there, it is often placed way up at the top of the door. This is the same spot it is located on the doors to the other bathroom stalls and that’s great…if you are an adult of average height and you can stand. If, however, you are a person of short stature or if you use a wheelchair that hook is completely useless.
Considering a hook is a great place to hang a purse or a crutch or a cane, it is wise to make sure the accessible stall door has one. It is even wiser to make sure its placement ensures people the ability to use it. But if you don’t happen to have a pocket guide to the ADA, how can you tell if your existing hook is too high?
Take one chair whose seat is between 16 and 20 inches off the floor and place it just inside the accessible stall. Take two adults, one man and one woman each of average height, and have them sit in the chair. Now have them try to hang a purse on the hook. If it is too difficult to accomplish the hook is in the wrong place.
An easy low tech solution. Now your next step is to find out where the hook really should go. Check out http://www.access-board.gov/adaag/html/adaag.htm for the proper height.