Table of Contents
To get a better idea of our client's needs, we had to see what the current standard is, where it fails, and what options are available for addressing those failures.
Exploration of Current Standard
After learning about the standards themselves, we got a wheelchair and went around town to see how well the standard worked. What we didn't expect was to find out that ADA standards are not followed in a large number of buildings. If a building is old enough, then it can be "grandfathered in" and don't have to make renovations.
We tried out a series of bathrooms (pictures here) at RIT and at the nearest mall (public places with high throughput).
To gain a better understanding of the situation for users other than our client, we conducted a series of interviews with other wheelchair users, notably Arc of Monroe, Living Hope Wheelchair Association, CP Rochester, and a few local wheelchair users. This helped us to better understand the scope of our problem statement and narrow down our focus in future steps.
Comparison of In-market Options
The next step was to compare the standard to current additional options on the market. There are several options for improving the bathroom experience for a wheelchair user, but none quite fit our client's needs. The three major categories we placed concepts into were: in-home, add-on, and custom.
These solutions are meant to be installed in the space. They are often complex and impractical for large-scale implementation.
These solutions are relatively cheap (on the scale of tens of dollars rather than hundreds or thousands) and easy to get and use, but they generally aren't very stable and don't address our client's needs well.
Some solutions are custom-built. This means actually designing the bathroom for one person's specific needs and building it as a unique piece. As one might guess, this is very expensive and often impossible for an average wheelchair user.
Current "Best Available" for Our Client
Our client already has a setup in his own home that he considers to be the best option available (but not the best possible). His primary complaints with this option are stability, cleanliness, obstruction, and support positioning, so these factors will be a major part of our design process.