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A Brief History of ADA Approved Portable Restrooms

January 7, 2022

Portable restrooms have been around for a long time. In the 1940’s a number of companies began to recognize the need for and potential of portable toilets for both the public and people who use wheelchairs. Outdoor bathrooms had long been built either from wood or corrugated metal. However visionary entrepreneurs began to experiment with a new material. Fiberglass producers made fiberglass wheelchair accessible portable bathrooms for a few years. Then they saw some weaknesses associated with fiberglass. It was breakable and it held the odors too long.

This led to the use of a new lighter, more durable material. Polyurethane plastic. Producers preferred using polyurethane plastic because it is durable, lightweight, and easy to clean and light enough for one person to load and unload them. At the same time, they added refinements like locking doors and occupied signs. These things made it a little more private, but the portable toilets were still difficult for wheelchair bound people to use. It would take several more years before an intrepid entrepreneur saw the value and need for portable toilets that were roomy enough and accessible to people with wheelchairs.

The need for wheelchair accessible portable restrooms led to the creation of a portable toilet with room enough to maneuver a wheelchair, have handrails and a flat, ground-level floor. Most also have good ventilation and a heavy-duty plastic interior that is easy to keep clean and dry. It also allows parents to be able to accompany their young children to the portable restroom. These specially designed portable toilets also allow promoters to fulfill the Americans with Disabilities Act requirement that at least one wheelchair accessible restroom for each gender be made available.