ADA compliance shifts designer thought, eye


Providing compliance for Americans with Disabilities Act standards means making tubs accessible to disabled travelers.


Designing around Americans with Disabilities Act regulations is at the forefront of hotel considerations these days. “Showers in hotels now need to be very easy to use, and usually have a temperature control mechanism to keep from scalding guests,” said George Gottl, principal and creative director at UXUS. “Modern tubs, if they are used, also have to be more spacious and safer to climb in and out of.”

Hotel designers had been looking into ways to work safety into bathroom aesthetics long before the new ADA requirements went into effect. This proclivity toward safety results in many design concepts being left on the cutting room floor. 

“When bathroom designs come out, they are ultimately accepted or rejected based on function,” said Christopher Ehlers, director of hospitality for Symmons. “Sometimes, ADA compliance is tied directly into all the rooms in a hotel just so the overall design makes sense. Nearly all the designs we do are ADA-compliant, just to help us avoid problems down the line.”

Showers in particular must be made ADA-compliant regardless of who uses the room. “Hotel tubs are still used in the same capacity as ADA rooms,” Ehlers said, though noting that issues with guests slipping and falling have also contributed to their lack of popularity. “Liability scares will always be around, and the way society is going the tendency to take them out and avoid lawsuits is high.”

Robert Peters, director of marketing at Pfister Hospitality, suggested using larger floor drains to reduce slipping. Installing roll-in shower stalls are also good space savers for ADA rooms. “ADA rooms should not be so separate from the design of the rest of the hotel, but they should have a few items to make them more user-friendly and accessible,” Peters said.

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