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In this edition of Jeffrey’s Access Corner, I want to discuss what the obligations are under both the 2006 revision of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board’s rule and regulations (MAAB) and the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Design Standards (2010 ADADS) when it comes to the provision of portable toilet units. We typically see these at recreation fields or outdoor events, not only in the Spring and Summer, but also in the Fall and Winter at holiday events or other festivals. Portable toilets at construction sites used exclusively by construction workers are not covered by either of these regulations. While both the 2006 MAAB and 2010 ADADS will require that 5%, but not less than 1, accessible portable toilets be provided at each location, there is often confusion related to what the obligation actually is.
Whether it be a municipal recreation department, a school athletic department, a business holding a festival, or a private group, if the general public can use those facilities, these obligations apply. For example, if the parents of a soccer league want to rent a portable toilet to be used where practices are being held for the soccer team, the portable toilet would need to be accessible. Another example is if a town wants to provide portable toilets at their beach, the portable toilet would need to be accessible.
First let’s look at what is meant by “location.” The best way to explain this is to think of a square field. If a singular portable toilet were provided on each corner (4 in total), the regulations would require that there be 4 accessible portable toilets available; 1 in each location. Now if we change that up and only provide the 4 portable toilets at 1 corner of the field, then the regulations would only require that 1 (5% of 4 is 0.2 which rounded up equals 1) accessible portable toilet would need to be provided. Each location that portable toilets are provided, whether all bunched in a singular location or spread throughout a facility; 5%, but not less than 1, need to be accessible at each cluster.
Now let’s take a look at what the regulations mean by “accessible.” While I will not go into each detail, considerations need to be made for where the accessible portable toilet(s) are placed, the dimensions of the portable toilet, the interiors and features provided, and identification needed. There are 3 types of portable toilets that can be rented: a small, a medium, and a large; the large toilet measures at an over-all 5’x5’ size, and allows for maneuvering clearances, a wider door, grab bars, and other amenities for accessibility.
It should be noted that there are costs associated with this. While the small portable toilet will cost less, the industry does charge the most for the larger portable toilets. While I won’t comment on the fee structure of the industry, I will suggest that the clustering of the portable toilets be considered when deciding where and how many will be provided or are required to be provided.
To be accessible, you also need to consider the location of where the portable toilets will be placed on the site. Let’s go back to the square field that provides portable toilets at each corner. The 2 regulations both require that there be an accessible route for someone to be able to get to the accessible portable toilets. If this route involves grass, such as at a soccer field or a grass field at a festival, then the regulations would indicate that there is no accessible route provided; so, placement is key. Placing it on a hard packed or paved surface that is level is crucial.
As always, if there are any questions related to this topic, please let me know. If you have topics you would like me to write about, you can reach me by email at jeff.dougan@mass.gov or by phone at (617)-727-7440.

By Jeff Dougan

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