By Alan Apter
Two longtime Tikvat Israel members are seeing to it that worshipers with disabilities will not have to travel far to the rest room during services.
The men’s restroom outside the sanctuary is being converted to an all-gender bathroom compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act in the coming months.
The bathroom remodeling has been made possible by congregational members Hope and Phillip Kott.
Hope Kott, a wheelchair user, explained that she and her husband initiated the project because “we wanted a place that was close to the sanctuary and social hall so that people with disabilities and senior members of the congregation who might use canes or walkers would not have to miss a lot of time from services and events.”
Construction permits were granted at the beginning of August. Architect Mike Asbacher of Consulting Design Services has worked with the synagogue on a design that will widen the bathroom entrance for wheelchair access and install a push-button door opener, among other accessibility considerations. HBW Construction was hired to complete the project.
Hope Kott has been involved with the project every step of the way, providing insight into the design. In championing this project, she said that accessibility is a key part of making Tikvat Israel welcoming to all members.
The adjacent women’s restroom will not be affected by the renovation.
Hope Kott added: “It was also important to us that individuals would have the dignity of taking care of their needs by themselves. The accessible bathrooms in the school wing are not only a long walk for someone who might have difficulty getting around, but the heavy doors are almost impossible for someone in a wheelchair to open on their own. Phil and I would often miss a half hour of High Holiday services just going to the bathroom.”
“We are so excited that the new bathroom will be open in time for this year’s holidays,” she said. “We hope that those who are ‘fully-abled’ will give priority use of this new accessible bathroom to those with special needs.”
This article originally appeared in the September-October issue of Tikvat Israel Congregation’s Bulletin.