Universal Design New York
4.1e Using Public Amenities

Photo of a water fountain with appropriate knee clearance.
Photo of a man using a pay phone.
Photo of a lavatory counter with knee clearance.

Public amenities are resources, conveniences, facilities or benefits continuously offered to the general public for their use and/or enjoyment, with or without charge (e.g., restrooms, information displays, public telephones, rain shelters, drinking fountains, etc.).

As such, public amenities are expected to function around the clock, in adverse conditions such as inclement weather, high noise environments and in varying degrees of light and heat. Consequently, there are several key attributes that should be integrated into all public amenities to ensure universal usability.

General Requirements

Key attributes for usability include location, interactivity and safety.

Guidelines:

 
Photo of a man standing at a computerized information station.
Figure 4.1e.1. This computerized information station's controls can be accessed by people of all statures from either a standing or sitting position.

Photo of a man in a wheelchair pressing a button to open a sliding restroom door.
Figure 4.1e.2. This restroom provides an automated sliding door with controls that can be reached by everyone.

 

  Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Public amenities must be located on a clear path of travel where accessibility is continuously maintained.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Perceptible Information

Locations of all amenities should be clearly marked at heights detectable by all users. They should be equally discernible to users with varying abilities.

 

Icon: Simple and Intuitive
Icon: Flexibility in Use

Switches, controls, instructions, and dispensers must be understandable to the broadest audience possible, accessible from numerous heights, and usable by many alternative means.

 

  Icon: Equitable Use

Avoid placing public amenities in situations where users are isolated. Isolation, though not a physical threat itself, places the vulnerable user at greater risk to crime.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Perceptible Information

Reflective surfaces (e.g., mirrors) should be installed so that those using them may observe anyone approaching.

 

  Icon: Tolerance for Error

Provide emergency communications equipment wherever potential security threats exist.

 

Icon: Flexibility in Use
Icon: Tolerance for Error

Public amenities that require payment before use should accept multiple means of payment (e.g., cash, credit or debit card).

 

Restrooms

Restrooms are an amenity particularly in demand by all segments of the community. Lack of access can result in severe discomfort or embarrassment. Consequently, they should be available to everyone.

Guidelines:

 
  Icon: Tolerance for Error

Use floor surfaces that are designed to drain and dry quickly.

 

 
Photo of a  lavatory with two counter heights and motion activated faucets.
Figure 4.1e.3. This lavatory's two counter heights and motion activated faucets provide accommodations that are usable by a wide range of users.

Photo of a person pushing down the release lever on a towel dispenser.
Figure 4.1e.4. Because this towel dispenser does not require the user to grasp controls or turn the wrist, it can be operated by almost everyone.

 

  Icon: Flexibility in Use

Provide automatic flush plumbing or a large flush activation switch placed so that it can be activated with the gross movement of a hand, shoulder, or elbow.

 

  Icon: Equitable Use

Provide changing tables for care of infants in at least one restroom at a height usable by people of all statures whether standing or seated.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Flexibility in Use

Where clothing hooks are provided (e.g., stalls), they should be placed at or below 48 inches.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Simple and Intuitive

Wherever possible, eliminate doors in favor of a maze-type entry system.

 

  Icon: Flexibility in Use

Provide a single use or family style restroom in addition to gender-specific facilities.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Perceptible Information

Provide a floor-to-ceiling mirror to enable use by anyone.

 

  Icon: Tolerance for Error

Position handrails and grab bars so that they are not obstructed by soap or towel dispensers.

 

Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use
Icon: Tolerance for Error

Provide a choice of heights for toilets to allow all users to keep their feet in contact with the floor and to facilitate transfers onto toilets.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Simple and Intuitive

Stalls should provide either a shelf or ledge to keep personal items off the floor and should be large enough to accommodate the user with packages or luggage.

 

  Icon: Simple and Intuitive

Hand dryers and/or towel dispensers should be placed at heights that accommodate people of all statures whether standing or seated. Mount at least one in a lower position.

 

  Icon: Flexibility in Use

Consider providing a lavatory inside a large toilet stall.

 

Areas of Public Information Display

Public information displays should present information so that it can be accessed and understood by everyone.

Guidelines:

 
  Icon: Simple and Intuitive

Information displays should be organized intuitively, making them simple to use and understand. Where a key or legend is necessary, it should be prominently displayed.

 

 
Photo of high contrast signage suspended from a ceiling in an airport.
Figure 4.1e.5. These high-contrast illuminated signs are predictably spaced to make them easier for users to locate.

 

Icon: Simple and Intuitive
Icon: Perceptible Information

Information should be provided in as large a format as is practical.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Perceptible Information

Information should be provided in as many alternative formats as possible (e.g., raised letters, large print, Braille, voice, etc.) and be clearly marked.

 

  Icon: Perceptible Information

Where activation switches are necessary, they should be easily identifiable and positioned so that they are operable by anyone.

 

  Icon: Simple and Intuitive

Maps, directories, and information displays should be arranged spatially to accommodate all users.

 

  Icon: Simple and Intuitive

Place repetitive displays of maps, directories, or information in a consistent manner so users can predict their locations.

 

Public Telephones

Using a telephone is a necessity rather than a luxury. Not everyone has a cell phone, so public telephones must be usable by everyone. They should be selected to ensure that their design features accommodate the widest possible range of users.

Guidelines:

 
Photo of a telepone which has a keyboard at the bottom.
Figure 4.1e.6. There is a keyboard at the bottom of this telephone that permits any user to communicate with text rather than voice.

Photo of a bank of telephones mounted at a low height usable in either standing or seated positions.
Figure 4.1e.7. These telephones are mounted lower so that either standing or seated users can conveniently access them.
Icon: Simple and Intuitive
Icon: Perceptible Information

Use high contrast colors and materials to differentiate buttons, faceplate and key numbering.

 

  Icon: Simple and Intuitive

The layout for keypad numbers/buttons should follow the standard pattern.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Flexibility in Use

Where possible, a flat horizontal surface should be offered near the telephone for gathering change, writing notes, placing handbags, etc.

 

  Icon: Equitable Use

For wall mounted or pedestal based telephones, provide sufficient space for approach and use by all users.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Flexibility in Use

Provide a control for those who prefer a louder volume and to ensure listening capability over background/ambient noise.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Flexibility in Use

Handsets should be compatible with portable text telephone (TDD/TTY) devices or the telephone should offer automatic passive access to an integrated TDD/TTY.

 

Public Rain Shelters

When bus stops are used as a refuge from rain or other inclement weather or as public resting areas, they become public amenities not solely related to transportation. In the universal city, such areas must also enable use by anyone.

Guidelines:

 
Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Locate shelters on a flat paved surface rather than on dirt, gravel or grass.

 

 
Photo of a pedestrian shelter with transparent sides and top.
Figure 4.1e.8. This rain shelter's transparent walls enhance security by enabling easy inspection.
  Icon: Tolerance for Error

Shelters should be constructed of transparent materials for security reasons.

 

  Icon: Tolerance for Error

Provide sufficient space for those using strollers, carts, and wheeled mobility devices.

 

Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use
Icon: Low Physical Effort

Provide benches for long waits. Benches should not impede movement by those who choose not to use them.

 

  Icon: Tolerance for Error

The floor surface should facilitate removal of snow, ice, rain and debris.

 

Drinking Fountains

Public drinking fountains need to be usable by everyone. Therefore they should be selected to ensure that their design features accommodate the widest possible range of user requirements.

Guidelines:

 
Photo of a pair of dual height fountains.
Figure 4.1e.9. Drinking fountains should be usable from either a standing or sitting position. Their controls should be easily reached and operated by everyone. Dual height fountains are an effective solution.
  Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Drinking fountains should be located along an accessible path of travel offering space to use the fountain from either a standing or seated position without being in the path of traffic.

 

  Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

All fountains should ensure approach and use by anyone.

 

Icon: Simple and Intuitive
Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

The activation switch should be conveniently located and its means of operation should be obvious, intuitive and usable by anyone.

 

  Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

The fountain should be positioned at a height that enables all users to reach the drinking stream.

 

  Icon: Tolerance for Error

The drain should facilitate rapid emptying of the basin.


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The State University of New York
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