Universal Design: Public Bathrooms

February 10, 2010 at 7:55 am 2 comments

If the thought of using a city public bathroom makes you cringe and want to run, you are not alone.   It has happened to all of us before; you are driving or walking around enjoying your day, and you find yourself nowhere near your house, or a friend’s house, and are in need of a bathroom.  Do you go to your local fast food restaurant, duck into a coffee shop, brave a mini-mart or gas station, or rush home hoping that you will make it?

The use of the unfamiliar bathroom requires strategy; a plan to be able to get in, get the job done, get out and not touch a thing.  If only we could create an invisible force field, impenetrable to germs, perhaps the experience would be more positive.  Instead we consciously and methodically complete a hand scrub procedure that is pre-surgery worthy, and then hope to find that elusive paper towel to be the barrier between your newly germ-free hand and the door you have to open to get out.

All of this, and now what if you had a disability?  Used a wheelchair, cane, or walker?  What if your legs were just tired of standing and you needed a place to sit while washing your hands?  Perhaps the bathroom door is too narrow and your wheelchair or walker can’t fit in.  Perhaps the bathroom stall door is not wide enough, and your wheelchair can fit but you can’t close the door behind you.  Perhaps there is only one accessible stall, but it is being used by an able-bodied person.  

In this video, Smart Design, a New York-based company, “examines the intersection between Universal Design principles and the limitations of public bathrooms.”  We can all benefit from a universally designed public bathroom in the city.  This is part one of a two-part series.  I look forward to part two.  

Entry filed under: Bathrooms, Universal Design. Tags: , , .

AAHSA “Idea House” Design for Disability….or just design for all?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Zac Collins  |  February 10, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Wow, I love the video. It was funny too. Their office is awesome. I agree with what they are saying. I can’t wait to see what their ideas are for solutions, or at least more detailed solutions.

    Public bathrooms is a difficult thing to take on because there’s so many factors involved. There’s technology that helps, but it doesn’t solve the whole problem. For example, the automatic flushing and faucet, you still have to touch the door. Then, there’s the wasted water. Personally, I hate that automatic sinks are never warm and I hate washing my hands in cold water, especially when it’s cold out. I have a problem with where to put my coat too when I’m in a stall. I like the idea about masking noise. It’s also difficult because everyone has their own personal strategies and I guess to have a perfect bathroom, everyone would need to practice similar practices.

    I’m excited for the next part! Thanks, Debra.

  • 2. bathroom trisha  |  February 26, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I’d been looking for inspiring suggestions for bathroom suites when I discovered your blog page site via Msn and this site snared my interest.


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