A Place for Everyone: ADA-Compliant Amenities
Accessible products built for convenience and designed with style
By Rebecca L. Rhoades
“Twenty percent of Americans have a disability that affects their daily lives,” says Erik Listou, co-founder of the Living in Place Institute, a nonprofit organization that provides education and awareness about home designs and products that improve safety, comfort and accessibility.
Manufacturers have long offered fixtures, cabinetry and appliances that meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, with most products—walk-in bathtubs, for example—being heavily marketed toward the aging population. Their designs, however, often brought to mind hospital rooms or assisted-living facilities.
“We were getting a lot of feedback that there weren’t any beautiful ADA-compliant products available,” says Heather Shannon, senior brand marketing manager for Perlick Corp. “There were nice products, but they weren’t the high quality that consumers were asking for. They wanted something that was ADA-compliant but didn’t look like it was.”
Meeting that demand, Perlick showcased a line of accessible refrigerators, freezers, ice makers, beverage centers and wine reserves for both indoor and outdoor applications. All of the 32-inch-high appliances—an ADA requirement—include full-extension pullout shelving, placing even the most hidden condiment within easy reach.
Sink and faucet manufacturer Elkay debuted its professional-grade Dart Canyon stainless steel farmhouse sink with a built-in work shelf. The unit’s offset drain placement creates a barrier-free space beneath the sink for easy wheelchair access.
GE’s premium Monogram brand and Café line brought wheelchair use to the kitchen with the addition of French doors on ovens versus pull-down doors that block a person’s reach. Toto’s ADA-compliant Neorest NX toilet, which was honored with a special Universal Design/Living in Place award, offers a comfortable low profile, a built-in cleaning system and a nightlight, and all of its functions can be operated by a remote control.
Bath companies brought stylish grab bars to the forefront. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 90% of contractors install these features in renovations. Moen’s matte black and brushed gold options were standouts for safety with style, while Australia-based Evakare, displayed grab bars with elegant finishes and sound-activated LED lights.
Notes Listou, “People want to be independent for as long as they can, but they’re tired of having limited options when it comes to design.” Today’s products are not only functional but also stylish, and they enhance consumers’ homes and well-being.