Quick quiz: The people who design and build accessible bathrooms:
- Have heard of wheelchairs but believe they are legends, much like the fountain of youth.
- Know wheelchairs exist but are certain that no one uses them anymore.
- Have seen able-bodied actors pretend to be disabled on TV, so they are sure that anyone who uses a wheelchair can, like Peter Brady on his wedding day, get up and walk if they really want to.
- Have read all the required code, so feel they are experts.
- Know that people use chairs, have tried a chair themselves but know that they are able to use body parts normal people in chairs cannot, so before setting anything in stone, bring in someone who is really in a chair to test the room.
I can tell you which one it isn’t.
Here in the accessible room at the hotel in Virginia Beach, I can't decide which it is.
There are plenty of bars here near the toilet, great.
Not so great: All the bars, and the wall, end before the front of the toilet, so you can sit down OK. I can stand up, too. I can’t however, pull my pants up or clean myself off.
It’s a roll-in shower, great.
Not so great: Getting a shower chair in or out is like parallel parking a limo. I went back and forth countless times. This is made all the harder by a big old lip on the shower.
My knees fit under the sink, great.
Not so great: You have to line up properly to avoid the pipes, but it is hard to line up properly in the dark, which is what you have to do to reach the light.