Minnesota State Council on Disability December 8, 1993 Mr.

John Wodatch Department of Justice Public Access Section Civil Rights Division P.O. Box 66738 Washington, D.C. 20035-6738 RE: Grab Bar Configuration - State of Minnesota Dear Mr. Wodatch: The State of Minnesota is currently involved in the process of revising its building code requirements as they relate to accessibility. Of particular concern, and an item which has developed into a major stumbling block, is the State's requirement for grab bar location at the toilet. The State of Minnesota has, for a period of 15 years or more, required both a horizontal and vertical grab bar at the toilet. Since this requirement differs from ADAAG guidelines, the question has arose as to how our guidelines will be received by the Department of Justice. It is very difficult for the State of Minnesota to continue in this process without some indication or clarification from Justice. A diagram of our proposed guideline is enclosed. Essentially, we have lowered the horizontal grab bar from 33"-36" to 27"-29" and added a vertical grab bar component. The State Council on Disability strongly feels that this configuration provides equivalent facilitation and is in fact more restrictive than ADAAG. Our argument is that the two bars serve two different populations of individuals with disabilities. The horizontal bar is used primarily by persons who use wheelchairs. This population requires that the point of leverage be just above the seat height of the wheelchair. We also recognize the need for the toilet paper dispenser to be located below the horizontal grab bar,so that it does not interfere with usage of the grab bar. Therefore, the 27"-29" range in mounting height of the horizontal grab bar. To compensate for lowering the horizontal grab bar, and to facilitate ambulatory individuals, a vertical bar is used in conjunction with the horizontal bar. The vertical grab bar is mounted approximately 12" in front of the toilet bowl with a minimum of 3" clearance between the horizontal bar and the lower end of the vertical bar (this is to allow someone to slide their 121 E. 7th Place; Suite 107; St. Paul, MN 55101; (612) 296-6785; 1-800-

945-8913 (V/TDD); Fax (612) 296-5935 Equal Opportunity Employer - Printed on Recycled Paper 01-03035 hand along the horizontal bar without interruption). The vertical bar is used primarily by ambulatory individuals who require assistance going from a standing position to a sitting position, and vice versa. With the wrist in a vertical position on the vertical grab bar, an individual has much more strength and leverage to raise or lower oneself. We feel that this combination grab bar configuration serves an expanded population of individuals with disabilities. If the horizontal bar is raised to the 33"-36" ADAAG range, many wheelchair users will not be able to benefit from its provision because the raised leverage point will require too much strength. Likewise, ambulatory individuals have a more difficult time raising or lowering themselves with their wrists in a horizontal position. The State of Minnesota has held 12 informational sessions on its proposed building code. Much discussion has occurred regarding the grab bar configuration. There are legitimate liability concerns involved in deviating from ADAAG without comment from your office. Although builders, architects and building officials concur with the logic of the grab bar configuration, the liability concerns remain. We are basically at a stand still in this process. It will be very difficult for the State of Minnesota to continue with its efforts to develop a building code that is in compliance with ADAAG without resolving this grab bar issue. In order to proceed with the code change without comment from the Department of Justice, we would have to concede our grab bar configuration and follow ADAAG. A significant number of individuals with disabilities would be greatly disadvantaged if they had to loose their grab bar configuration. The Council on Disability has received many letters of support from the disability community regarding this issue. Comment from your office would be greatly appreciated and is urgently needed. We do not feel that the inclusion of the vertical grab bar is in question as it clearly exceeds ADAAG in that it is not required. What we must have answered is whether lowering the horizontal grab bar and including the vertical component would be considered equivalent facilitation by the Department of Justice. Thank you in advance for your consideration in this matter. Please contact me as soon as possible with any comments, questions or concerns. Sincerely,

Curt Wiehle Accessibility Specialist enclosure 01-03036 DIVISION AND MN STATE COUNCIL ON DISABILITY Dimension to centerline of grab bar

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