Manufacturers respond

Accordingly, in residential as well as commercial markets, more manufacturers are offering faucets, fixtures and accessories that are barrier-free and stylish. American Standard recently had leading architects Stanley Tigerman and Margaret McCurry of Chicago redesign its Heritage faucet line with an eye toward the needs of all users, including those with varying disabilities.

Delta’s recently redesigned single handle faucet line meets barrier-free requirements without looking institutional or odd-ball a plus for the selling/installing contractor as well as for the user. “If all our products meet the standard, a contractor doesn’t have to worry about meeting a barrier-free percentage in a building,” Warshaw points out.

Kohler’s Freewill product line includes wheelchair-accessible showers and sinks and wall-mounted water closets installed at the height convenient for the user. The products are all available in many styles and colors.

Explaiins Kohler product manager Anthony Lett: “As people age they want to keep their fuctionality and their dignity with some style. But tthese products aren’t just for the `aging’ market. If you can add the style and take out the stigma, most people would love to have these products in their homes.”

Bradley Corp’s Barnum, vice-president of corporate r&d, says he doesn’t design products for disabled people: “I design a fixture for able-bodied people that also works for people with various disabilities.” The results, Barnum says, are dignity for people with disabilities and savings for building owners. “If they don’t have to add separate barrier-free fixtures, they’re obviously going to save money.”

Bradley, which produces institutional washfountains and shower modules, has incorporated proximity (no-touch) valves into some of its washfountain models. Tom Barnum notes that the no-touch valve for commercial facilities is both barrier-free and hygienic.

Kohler’s Lett syas proximity faucets will move into the residential market – eventually. “They’re more hygienic, they conserve water and they’re barrier free,” Lett says. “The difference is they’ll want to be able to control the temperature. That’s our next generation of products.”

For the near term, though, American Standard’s Uhl sees proximity technology more appealing in nonresidential markets rather than the residential markets: “You can just adjust the temperature and they have an institutional connotation that we’re trying to get rid of.”

Indeed, says Wylde, getting rid of the institutional connotation should be the first consideration in barrier-free design. “The key to know if you’ve succeeded is to look at the thing. If it says, `This is for an old person,’ or, `This is foe handicapped person,’ then you need to start over.”

PHOTO : Barrier free and stylish, this bathroom by Kohler includes a wheelchair-accessible shower unit, and a wall-hung lav with no legs vanity. PHOTO : Delta’s redesigned single handle faucet meets accessibility codes; a barrier-free kitchen, and a redesigned barrier-free Heritage faucet from American Standard.

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