Accessible Standards for Ontario Universal Washrooms

PLEASE NOTE that this document does not constitute legal advice and is meant only as a guide.


One of the current priorities of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the “AODA”), is to build an accessible Ontario by 2025. Some of the amendments are about universal washroom specifically. The New Accessibility Amendments to Ontario’s Building Code came into effect on January 1, 2015. People with disabilities account for an estimated $25 billion in national consumer spending each year. This group is also estimated to influence the spending decisions of 12 to 15 million other Canadians. –RBC Financial Group Study, 2008

15.5% of Ontario’s population has a disability, a number that will continue to rise with the aging population.

We asked wheelchair users what they look for in an accessible space. Here’s what they had to say!

THE GOOD:

  • Friendly, flexible staff- If staff are willing to help find solutions, many people report that minor accessibility issues can be overlooked.
  • Removable chairs (as opposed to booths) allow for extra space to be created.
  • Step-less entry. Some businesses have a step out front and encourage wheelchair users to enter through a ground level door at the back. This can pose a safety hazard if this means entering through the kitchen.
  • Abundant space to maneuver once inside the restaurant, especially between tables.

THE BAD:

  • Often the outside door will have an automatic door opener, but the vestibule door will not.
  • Round doorknobs – lever-style is best!
  • Coat hooks that are placed too high in bathroom stalls – lower them, especially in accessible stalls.
  • Cabinets under the sink. This restricts a wheelchair from pulling up to the sink area.

Recent amendments to Ontario’s Building Code

The amendments will come into effect on January 1, 2015. They mainly apply to newly constructed buildings and existing buildings that are to be extensively renovated. These are in addition to existing Ontario building codes.

Barrier-free path of travel: includes new requirements for power-door operators at entrances & vestibule entrances; updated door width, passing hall space, and curb ramp dimensions;

Access to all storeys within a building: this change will require elevator access to all floors within a building. Exception: Restaurants will not be required to provide access to upper floors if the same amenities are provided on all floors.

Visual fire safety devices: amendments expand the range of areas where visual fire alarms will be required. This includes the inside of all barrier-free/universal washrooms.

Washrooms: the amendments update the requirements for barrier-free/universal washrooms, including requirements for publicdoor operators; new mounting height and location requirements for washroom accessories; new fold-down grab bar options to allow for transfer space on both sides of toilet; requirement of an L-shaped grab bar in all cases; and increasing the minimum required clear floor area.

Please note: This is not an exhaustive list of the amendments. For more information, visit:http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page10547.aspx.

Is your washroom wheelchair accessible?

Washrooms are a common problem area in terms of accessibility.

There are different guidelines for what makes a washroom space barrier-free, but here we have compiled what we think are the most commonly used (and best!) measurements and recommendations.

On this page are two diagrams of what an accessible washroom might look like, and below are some great features to consider including in your space.

  • Individual, unisex washrooms are preferred
  • Door should ideally swing outward. If door swings inward, sufficient clearance should be provided (see diagram at right)
  • Minimum space of 72 x 72 inches
  • Minimum 35 inch wide doorways
  • Automatic features are best (doors, flush, water, soap, paper towel or dryer). Controls should be mounted no higher than 47 inches off ground.
  • Hang hooks and shelves lower (max. 47 inches off ground)

Original Post: AccessTO

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