Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Grab Bars For Restrooms

Grab bars for restrooms should not be an optional decision. Their amazing use and ability to blend in with the environment makes them great for anyone, disabled or not. They are a security requirement for almost all new construction and remodeling. As people turn out to be older it becomes more difficult to bath. A primary trigger of injury for that elderly is falls in the bathroom. The bathtub, shower and toilet would be the primary areas of concern and bars and handrails will provide the additional safety and support to assist people preserve their balance. Grab bars for restrooms will provide everyone with extra security, not just the elderly or individuals with disabilities.

Handicap bars for restrooms are considered an integral component from the restroom simply because they supply safety and security for all users. They are absolutely obligatory for the physically disabled and are component of ADA regulations. Typical applications consist of public restrooms, public shower rooms, hotels, hospitals, wellness care services, nursing houses, residential houses, wellness clubs, assisted living services, independent residing apartments, and commercial office environments.

Grab bars for restrooms are an essential safety function but they also can add to the sophistication and elegance of the restroom. They convey the picture of issue for that user with heavy duty chrome-plated metal or stainless metal. They're rust resistant and could be mounted horizontally or vertically or in other configurations. Some configurations include vertical floor-to-ceiling poles for greater assistance. These durable and functional support systems are ergonomically designed for any comfy and safe grip. Some bars and handrails are covered with a corrosion resistant nylon gripping area. This nylon gripping surface offers a sleek, non-slip surface that maintains a stable temperature regardless of variations of heat or cold in the drinking water or restroom. And these nylon surfaces are also free of any sharp area irregularities that would be regarded abrasive.

Grab bars for restrooms are constructed from heavy gauge 304 stainless steel tubing. The diameter is usually 1 or one and one fifty percent inch and the bars and handrails can be mounted in either a concealed or exposed method. The ADA has specific load requirements that practically all bars and handrails meet or exceed. Additionally, the ADA demands a safety clearance among the wall and also the bar or shower handrails of 1 and 1/2 inch. You can find multiple configurations available for bathtubs, showers, stalls, and toilets. Custom made configurations also can be created for clients. There is a range of mounting kits available with most having three 3/4" diameter mounting brackets with rubber gaskets to guard walls.

The maintenance and cleaning of grab bars for restrooms is generally a simple procedure but there are several points to avoid. Most grab bars for restrooms are made from stainless metal which is really a reduced carbon metal that's comprised of a minimum of 10 % chromium. The chromium gives stainless steel its rust and corrosion resisting ability however it does not make it impervious. Stainless steel can be broken by corrosion or discoloration by harsh cleaners along with other unique problems. Generally, users should avoid using chloride cleansers, cleansers containing salts, bleach, and muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) which is commonly utilized during tile and concrete installation. Concentrated soap residue and drinking water, with a higher iron written content, can also discolor or leave a rusty residue. Get in touch with iron resources for example metal wool ought to be avoided simply because little bits of metal can impregnate the stainless steel and start to rust. The best technique of upkeep is repeated washing with a mild soap and drinking water.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Shopping With A Disability

I used to enjoy visiting our local shopping mall with my family because we knew we could stroll around eating an ice cream while looking in the windows until one of us saw something that grabbed our fancy. We would then venture into the shop in search of the desired item. Once inside it would be a case of walking sideways in order to negotiate the narrow aisles between all the clothing, shoes and other displayed goods. It wasn’t a problem then but it sure is now.

I have been in a wheelchair for a few years now and what used to be an enjoyable visit has now become a nightmare. The aisles in most stores can be negotiated with care and precision but to actually get between the racks to select a specific item is next to impossible. I have had my wheels get caught in amongst items of clothing, ridden over shoes left on the floor and driven into other browsing customers with embarrassing regulatory. Needless to say that any visit to the change room is completely out of the question. Few if any shops will allow me to take items home on approval, so the items must be paid for and then returned for swapping or credit if they don’t fit or are not required for what ever reason.

To venture into a store that sells crockery, art, glassware or appliances is fraught with danger. The aisles are packed to well past capacity and the danger of knocking something over with the added risk of creating my own domino effect on the fragile goods being displayed or run the risk of undermining the base of a displayed stack of toasters, steam irons etc and being crowned by a flying appliance is very real.

So what is the solution, besides shopping online or from mail order catalogues? I can enter the store and wait by the door for service or I can sit there and get extremely frustrated and angry while I get sideways glances from the shop assistant who is too terrified to approach me to offer assistance just in case I should bite him or her. The second option is more likely to happen in busy stores but does also happen, with lazy staff, who prays that I will just go away if they ignore me. It has become necessary to create a scene on the odd occasion where I “throw my toys out of my cot” with instant service being offered from every shop assistant within hearing distance.

Once the purchase has been made the bought article has to be carried on our lap while we handle the steering joystick and get all of us safely back to the vehicle.

Needless to say that any attempt or desire on my part to go on a shopping spree, fizzles out like a wet fire cracker as soon as I think back on how happiness, turned to anger to disappointment to frustrated irritation and inevitably choose to rather keep my cool and save my money by staying at home and asking someone else to make the purchase on my behalf if I really need the item.

Not the best solution but at least I remain sane.

Shopping like many other activities is no longer an enjoyable exercise.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Disability Defined - Who Is Disabled?

I am sure there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are in the same boat when it comes to disability. There are some who cannot be seen to be disabled, like hearing impaired or people with internal disabilities, like heart, kidney, liver or other organ malfunction. Mental disabilities and so many other kinds of disabilities, that it would be a mammoth task to name them all or to list them all here. Suffice to say that there are some disabilities that are not visibly obvious.

I made the terrible mistake of flying off the handle at some poor defenceless person who had dared to park in the allocated disabled bay. Because I could not see any evidence of a crutch, walking stick or wheelchair I had the temerity to assume that this person was able bodied. Even when this person explained how he was disabled I was loathe believing his explanation.

I have been wheelchair bound for a few years now but went the walking stick, walker and crutches route before I got here. We of the wheelchair, handicap walkers, crutches and walking stick brigade sometimes forget that there are other disabilities than ours and tolerance and understanding should be practised when confronted with one of the many insults and injustices that come our way in day to day life.

Since being confined to my chair I have tended on occasion to expect people to know how to handle me and my situation and get really annoyed when people don’t offer assistance. Sometimes they just don’t know what to do and need to be guided by us. Unless they have experience with disabilities and the disabled they won’t know how to handle us, or could be afraid of the unknown as it were.

Now, to take a leaf out of my own book I try to keep my anger in check and use the opportunity to teach someone new about disability. It is amazing how willing people are to assist where they can. If you’re in a queue and getting tired ask for a chair. Ask the person in front of you for help, I have found that they are only too willing to oblige.

Put your pride in your pocket and ask for help, don’t expect people to instinctively know that you are disabled. I pray daily for the calm and patience to deal with each situation as it happens. If you don’t need to, don’t jump the queue, wait your turn but do so in comfort. Don’t wait until you’re on the verge of collapse before you ask for help. Keep your cool.

Disabled Toilet Encounters

Now when people talk to me about disabled toilets I can’t help but visualize a buckled and bent toilet with its cistern lid crooked and flush handle hanging loose, either on crutches or in a wheel chair. The same goes for disabled parking except here I see a crooked pole with a walking stick, with the signboard askew. I know I am being difficult but if we called them toilets for the disabled I for one would see them in their correct shape.

We have found some beautiful ones, big ones, small ones, narrow ones, smelly ones, the odd dirty one, impractical ones, those placed to fill a space merely because it is a requirement to have them, but most of all ones with loose basins, damaged seats and lack of or broken soap dispensers, drying units, paper towels, toilet paper and the list goes on.

Talking about shape! I would like to know who in the greater scheme of things decides that the architect’s plans for facilities for the disabled, in public places, are acceptable and who has designed or set these levels of acceptance.

It seems that this group or person doesn’t have a wheelchair rider in their group, or they don’t consult him/her if they do. One of my many wishes is that the building industry controlling body would employ a disabled, wheelchair bound architect to pass all plans for new buildings and those undergoing alterations. AND ENFORCE THE LAWS.

My wife and I have toured every shopping mall in Cape Town because we find it easier than trying to negotiate pavements without slopes for wheelchairs at all the crossroads, shop entrances etc. While there are a few that come up to my requirements the majority don’t.

Let me start with the doors, ---- after one has found a security guard with the appropriate key. The doors are usually wider, out of necessity for chairs, but extremely difficult to pull open or push from inside while standing. Let alone when in a wheelchair. I think the designers forget that our feet protrude from our footrests in a lot of cases. How do you pull a door open when you are sitting in front of it with your feet practically touching the door? They are also usually heavier due to their size and not hollow core which would make them lighter. In a lot of instances the entrance walls “alcove” in front of the door do not allow for a person to hold the door open without having their toes ridden over. A push button electronic sliding door would be a true blessing. (Could this be so difficult to install?)

Then we try to get inside with the automatic door closer doing its best to sandwich us against the door frame. (Hey!!! Guys, we need our hands to propel the wheelchair or at least one of them to manipulate the joy stick) how do we hold the door open?

To turn around in some is impossible because of layout or pure lack of space. This requires careful maneuvering or leaving and re-entering backwards. Now try to open the door from that position!!!! ---------- Impossible!!!

To wash and dry hands is also a work of art as the soap dispenser is inevitably on one wall, the drier on another with the basin sometimes situated between them.

Wet your hands then maneuver to the soap then with soapy hand back to the basin then back to the drier. By then, in my case, I need CPR after running the marathon of washing my hands. Besides having to wipe the soap off the wheels or joy stick.

Sometimes the facility is situated inside the normal men’s or lady’s toilet area. This is a problem, when your care giver is of the opposite sex.

Cheap plastic, wobbly, seats or loose cracked and broken ones are a definite no no. “Try to jump up from a cracked seat that suddenly grabs hold of a small piece of your behind when your legs or arms cannot support you.”

I have lost a lot of muscle mass in my behind or rather it has turned to fat and moved to my belly (or so my wife tells me) so, trying to sit on a toilet without a seat is difficult, to nigh on impossible, with sometimes hilarious results. My behind is definitely not as wide as a toilet so when I forgot to put the seat down I ended up with my bony bum securely wedged in the maw of this man eating toilet, with my skinny knees up around ear level. I must have looked a bit like a praying mantis about to jump on some luckless insect. It is amazing how important a raised toilet seat can be in these situations.

My arms are as weak as my legs, so to try to lift myself out of the clutches of this malevolent toilet was impossible. I had to call for help from my family who duly helped to get me out of my predicament much to my embarrassment and theirs too, no doubt.

What we need is a star rating for facilities for the disabled. Something like those that apply to hotels. But we need a disabled, wheelchair person to set the requirements for each level or star. Maybe then we could decide on which shopping mall to visit based on the information displayed on a board outside the centre at the parking bays without getting out of the car. Rather that, than find out, too late, that the facilities will not meet our needs when they are required with some urgency.

We don’t only go to shopping malls to use their facilities. We do actually shop at some of them.

To all shopping centres, petrol stations on major routes, churches, restaurants and those that design and build them. If you are going to provide facilities for the disabled, give the design, situation, basic mechanics, and maintenance some thought. Don’t just add them on as an afterthought merely to satisfy the minimum legal requirements. It is pointless advertising that you are disabled friendly when you cannot cater for a wheelchair. To us a severe slope is as bad as a step. (Just as useless). Likewise facilities that are impractical might just as well not be there. You need to remember that not all people have the same way of getting into or out of a wheelchair. Grab handles in the wrong place force people to use the basin or other fixture for leverage or support, which in turn results in loose basins etc. Waste bins take up valuable turning space and get squashed by wheels of power chairs. Soap dispensers and drying units that are too high are useless to wheelchair users. Some of us have weakened arms and can’t reach them.

I would like to encourage all disabled people that have or have had a bad experience with bathrooms and facilities for the disabled to write to the centre managers of these malls, shops, shopping centers, restaurants etc and advise them as to the problems. Unfortunately it is a fact of life that most able bodied people have no clue as to our requirements. Let’s inform them and ease our struggle at the same time. Make enough noise and we will be heard.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

UK Web Accessibility for Disabled

There's been widespread speculation about the new legislation being introduced under the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act), which will ensure that websites are accessible to blind and disabled users. Try to find specific information about it on the Internet and chances are you'll come up empty handed.

The RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and the DRC (Disability Rights Commission), two of the most renowned advocates for the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) and accessible websites, have no specific information about the laws and what websites specifically need to do in order to meet the legal requirements.

So, what does the law state?

Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act refers to the provision of goods, facilities and services. The Code of Practice, which specifically mentions websites, can be downloaded in its entirety from the DRC website ( 676kb).

The relevant quotes from this 175-page document are:

2.2 (p7): "The Act makes it unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public."

4.7 (p39): "From 1st October 1999 a service provider has to take reasonable steps to change a practice which makes it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of its services."

2.13 – 2.17 (p11-13): "What services are affected by the Act? An airline company provides a flight reservation and booking service to the public on its website. This is a provision of a service and is subject to the act."

5.23 (p71): "For people with visual impairments, the range of auxiliary aids or services which it might be reasonable to provide to ensure that services are accessible might include ... accessible websites."

5.26 (p68): "For people with hearing disabilities, the range of auxiliary aids or services which it might be reasonable to provide to ensure that services are accessible might include ... accessible websites. "
When does the law come into force?

It's widely believed that the new laws will be implemented in October of this year, when the final part of the DDA comes into force. This final piece of legislation actually refers to service providers having to consider making permanent physical adjustments to their premises and is not related to the Internet in any way.

The law about accessible websites came into force on 1st October 1999 ( and the Code of Practice for this section of the Act was published on 27th May 2002 ( This means that the majority of websites are already in breach of the law.

Can you be sued?

Well, probably. The RNIB claim that they've considered taking up a number of legal cases against organisations with regard to their websites. When they raised the accessibility issues of the website under the DDA, companies have typically made the necessary changes, rather than facing the prospect of legal action.

The DRC has now published their findings from their formal investigation into 1000 websites. ([]). If your website was included then you will have to start thinking about making it handicap accessible to all web users in the very near future.

What do you need to do to comply?

It's widely believed that if, or perhaps more appropriately when, a case makes it to court that the W3C accessibility guidelines will be used to assess a website's accessibility and ultimately decide the outcome of the case. The W3C is the Internet governing body and its web accessibility guidelines can be found at

To further complicate matters, the W3C offers three different levels of compliance. Priority 1 guidelines, (which must be satisfied according to the W3C) will almost certainly have to be adhered to. Priority 2 guidelines (which should be satisfied and are the EU recommended level of compliance (, or some part of, will probably also need to be adhered to too.

The courts will also no doubt take guidance from the outcome of an Australian case in 2000, when a blind man successfully sued the Sydney Olympics organising committee over their inaccessible website (

This article was written by Trenton Moss. He's crazy about web usability and accessibility - so crazy that he went and started his own web usability and accessibility consultancy ( Webcredible - ) to help make the Internet a better place for everyone.

Shower Doors That Help The Disabled

These days shower doors come in a wide variety of styles and designs. It’s worth putting some thought into finding one that both suits your needs and looks great. Installing a shower stall enclosure can bring your bathroom bang up to date in terms of style and functionality. But careful consideration is important when choosing which type of shower door would work best in your particular bathroom. As well as choosing a door that looks sleek and modern, the size and layout of your bathroom must be taken into account.

Sliding shower doors are the most common type. They take up the least amount of room, and can be fitted above a bathtub where space is at a premium. Because they glide open and shut, bypass sliding doors need tracks to operate. One downside of this design is that dirt and oil can accumulate in the tracks, which can be difficult to keep clean. Another disadvantage is that because of the nature of their design, sliding doors overlap, again causing potential cleaning issues.

Another sort is folding shower doors, which swing open on hinges. Folding doors are excellent for creating an elegant look and feel, but they do require enough space to be able to open outward. They can swing both ways, or just in one direction. A single action door must open outwards into the bathroom to prevent the user becoming stuck inside the shower enclosure. For this reason you will need to pay attention to the positioning of your bathroom fixtures to make sure the door doesn’t hit your sink, for example.

Bi fold or trackless shower doors are a combination of the above designs. They work in an accordion style, with folding sections. There are several benefits of this type of door. They use a minimum amount of space to operate, and they have no tracks to keep clean. They also offer barrier free access, so can be suitable for handicap shower stalls. These shower doors come equipped with a small ramp that allows for wheelchair access. These handicap shower stalls are perfect for anyone who has limited mobility. Get more information about handicap showers before deciding if this option is better than remodelling your bathroom with a handicap bathtub.

Frameless shower doors made from all glass are a popular style these days, they help create a more open and lighter feeling, suggesting an illusion of space. They are also easier to keep clean than traditional framed models. Shower door hardware comes in a choice of finishes, including chrome and brass, so you can match it to your faucets and bathroom cabinet handles. Glass shower doors come in a variety of patterns, from clear to etched to molded. Glass can be kept free of mold by simply using a squeegee to wipe away water drops.

When choosing a shower door, think about what design would look the best, and which style would work well in the space available. With a bit of planning your shower door can be the icing on the cake in your bathroom’s makeover!

Simon Phillips is a successful freelance writer and regular contributor to, your one stop source for finding the best deals on shower doors, shower stalls, bathroom vanities and more!

Elderly and Disabled BathTubs

Handicap walkin bath tubs allow the people you love, to care and bathe themselves independently and keep their dignity. A safety tub is designed for easy access to those who can't easily get into a regular bathtub.

People who have physical challenges, are limited with mobility or are elderly. These tubs also help the caregivers who offer their assistance to the handicapped or elderly that must help them into a regular tub.

You can install this type of a tub conveniently in any location of your home. There is a non-slip surface on the floor and seat to prevent injuries. This type of system is very tough, and an easy to care for fiberglass unit, where the handicap shower seats and back is molded for maximum support.

The sides are designed to provide comfortable arm support and help promote balance while sitting in the tub. There is a hand held shower included with the tub which provides easier access for handicapped people to take care of their needs.

You can set an adjustable scald guard to a maximum temperature setting to prevent people from being burned. You can fill the water level as high as chest level if it is desired, and will pass through any 30 inch door opening.

There is whirlpool action that helps people with circulatory problems. These problems can be arthritis and sore muscles, as well as many other ailments. This is a therapeutic way to help painful muscles on the elderly patients.

A handicap tub is a wonderful way to show people you care about their needs. If you have a family member who has a hard time getting in and out of the tub, this may be the right direction. This type of tub is designed to maintain self-esteem in the elderly.

By owning one of these tubs in your home or facility, you are making life easier on yourself as well. You won't have to strain your back helping limited people get into a regular tub and this means you will be able to give better care.

The whirlpool action can help relieve those painful moments when joints and muscles are aching. Circulatory problems are often helped through the use of whirlpool action, and can be alleviated through the use of this tub.

Elderly and handicapped people will feel more secure about themselves and the tub they are relaxing in. This type of tub keeps safety in mind and can be an added asset to anyone who can still take care for their physical body on their own.

If a handicap bathtub is not what you are looking for, there are roll in showers that allow access for wheelchairs and offer a similarly safe and comfortable bathroom experience.