The ADA and COVID-19

Posted on - Tuesday, December 1st, 2020


The Coronavirus Covid-19 does not seem to be going away any time soon. Architects and designers as well as facility managers are getting creative on how to use the built environment in a safe way in order to keep the virus from spreading. This newsletter will cover a few solutions that we have seen and how this affects persons with disabilities

Touchless plumbing fixtures

One of the best ways to not spread the virus is to not touch anything. And with that in mind, we already see the use of automatic faucets, flush controls and paper towel dispensers is increasing. Those work great not only for preventing the spread of the virus but also for persons who do not have the use of their hands. The one thing to keep in mind with these is the reach range.

the paper towel dispenser with a touchless sensor shown above is a great solution for touchless fixtures. The sensor should be mounted no higher than 48″ a.f.f.

the automatic faucet is also a good solution to avoid touching faucet controls. The sensor should be located no farther than 24″ from the edge. Also keep in mind to have the same amount of floor space below as the reach required.

Automatic flush controls are easy to install and flush both urinals and toilets automatically in commercial restrooms providing a more hygienic experience for restroom patrons. Automatic flush controls are available in retrofit that can be installed in the original flush valve. One thing to keep in mind when installing them is that if the unit has a courtesy manual flush it must be installed on the transfer side of the toilet.

Touchless Doors

Doors that are not automatic and require pulling of the hardware to open can be a place where Covid-19 is spread. A new device that is allowing people to open the door with their feet has been getting installed. This device is not for persons with disabilities and it can only be installed on the pull side of a door where the 12″ high smooth surface is not required.

Drinking Fountains

Drinking fountains are one fixture that has been found to be a hazard for spreading the virus. Most of the drinking fountains in buildings have been taken out of commission temporarily. But bottle fillers that are more hygienic and do not have direct contact with germs are a good solution.

The photo below shows the spouts of the drinking fountains covered as to avoid persons from using them. But the bottle filler is still available.

What is next…

We are all looking forward to soon being able to get back to normal…but in a safer, cleaner way. As architects and designers it is important to continue to make our built environment not only more inclusive but also healthier and safer for all.