The Origin of the Disability-Friendly Portable Sanitation Unit

Industry Artifacts,

As an industry, we always pride ourselves on meeting and exceeding our customers' needs. PSAI Charter Member Sani-Hut of Reno, Nevada, lived up to that challenge in 1977 when they invented a "barrier free" portable sanitation unit for use by people with disabilities. The PSAI News & Views from May 1977 gives a first-hand account of this remarkable homemade wooden unit. (Keep in mind that technology for creating newsletters was a bit more primitive in 1977 than it is today, so the images are not as sharp as we would like.)

PSAI News and Views newsletter from 1977

On August 20, 1985, William "Bill" Adams of Olympic Fiberglass Industries filed for a patent for a "Portable Toilet for Handicapped Individuals" and was awarded patent D298357 on November 1, 1988. It was not until July 26, 1990, that President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—some 13 years after Sani-Hut's invention of the handicapped unit and some 5 years after Bill Adams filed for the patent on this now-standard piece of equipment. The portable sanitation industry has a proud history of being innovators.

President George H.W. Bush signs ADA

For even more interesting facts on the history of our industry and of our Association, click on the link below and order your History Book today. All proceeds benefit the PSAI Scholarship Program.

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