Information About ADA Signs For Use in Public Bathrooms
Regardless of the building size, location, or function, restroom design is an essential part of achieving public health, safety, and accessibility. Public restroom facilities, whether at a high-volume location such as an airport or stadium, or inside a small retail store or restaurant, are subject to health department inspections assuring they meet health standards.
ADA compliance is a key part of restroom safety, sanitation and access. Architects must design with accessibility codes in mind, as well as the mundane but critical aspects of efficient sanitary maintenance. Public bathrooms, showers, locker rooms and the like must be clean, private, secure and accessible to persons with disabilities, and located on an accessible route. While wheelchair accessible bathrooms are required in new buildings, not all handicap accessible toilet partitions are designed for the required 5-foot turning radius.ADA signage for bathrooms, and California Title 24 signs
, are accepted ways to clearly delineate the function of each restroom facility, whether for single sex, such as male only or female only, or unisex and gender neutral. ADA braille signs with appropriate text and pictograms inform both sighted, sight-impaired, and blind persons of the bathroom function.
While many states require only a tactile Braille sign to designate use of a restroom or other facility, many states follow the example set by California with its geometric restroom door signs. A large (12"x12") circle sign indicating a women-only restroom, a equilateral triangle indicating a male-only restroom, and a combined triangle on circle sign indicating a unisex or gender neutral restroom.
The take-away is that correct, code-compliant ADA signage for bathrooms and other facilities is a key part of the efficient, safe, accessible and sanitary design of American buildings and businesses.
Enforcement of the ADA Nationally and in California
The ADA is a Civil Rights law passed in 1990. It requires buildings and facilities that provide goods and services to the public to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Buildings and alterations constructed after 1992 must comply with the requirements of the ADA. While buildings and facilities constructed before 1992, are required to make changes to facilitate accessibility that are “readily achievable.” This is defined by the ADA as, “easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense.”
In addition to the ADA, California has it’s own requirements for accessibility compliance included in the California Building Code. The California requirements are in many cases more stringent than the Federal ADA. Typically the most stringent requirement applies.
Enforcing ADA laws is left to private individuals and their attorneys. When an person with a disability encounters a condition that inhibits their access or use of a building or facility in 49 states other than California, they are able to file a suit and obtain correction of the condition. When a person with a disability encounters the same condition in California, they are immediately eligible for $4,000 in statutory damages under California’s Civil Code Section 52, which makes any violation of the ADA (no matter how small) a violation of an individual’s civil rights. This has lead to a significant problem throughout California, with attorneys (claiming to be “facilitating access for the disabled”) suing businesses with ADA violations to get the $4,000 in statutory damages and an additional couple of thousand dollars for attorney fees.
To limit these practices, California recently enacted Senate Bill 1608, intended to promote increased compliance with accessibility requirements while also reducing the unwarranted litigation counterproductive to that goal.
SB 1608 also authorized the the creation of Certified Access Specialists
, who have the authority to inspect buildings and facilities for accessibility compliance and issue a certificate indicating that a facility has been inspected and that any “readily achievable” accessibility issue are in the process of being addressed.
If a building or facility has been inspected by a Certified Access Specialist, and is subsequently the subject of an ADA lawsuit, the owner of the property can request a “stay” of proceedings for 90 days, which stops the legal process and provides an opportunity for the plaintiff and defendant to resolve whatever issues may need to be addressed. An inspection by a Certified Access Specialist doesn’t guarantee a property will not be subject to an ADA lawsuit. But it will significantly reduce the likelihood that an ADA attorney will go after the property looking for a quick and easy $4,000 in statutory damages.A Directory of California Certified Access Specialists and Related NewsTop of Page