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ADA Bathrooms

The American Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990, provides civil rights protections, to people with disabilities, ensuring equal access to all public goods and services.

This resulted in ADA standards and guidelines for accessibility to places of public accommodation and commercial facilities by individuals with disabilities. This means at least one of each type of fixture or feature must meet handicapped requirements. These guildelines extend to multifamily housing.

The Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG), cover the construction and alteration of both private and public sector facilities.

Some states offer their own accessibility guidelines. Two prominent ones are the Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS) and Massachusetts Accessibility Standards (MAS).

The Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) are generally aligned with the ADAAG guidelines when it comes to bathroom accessibility.

We provide a simplified overview of what it takes to ensure ADA compliance when designing a restroom/bathroom.

This information is offered as a free service, it is not intended to serve as legal advice or to replace meeting with your state and local officials to ensure your project will meet building codes.

We assume no obligation to update these materials, and no liability for their accuracy or content. The reader assumes all responsibility for confirming the accuracy of these materials.


ADA Accessibility Guidelines

Clear Floor Space for Wheelchair Access

Clear space measuring at least 30" x 48" must be provided to accommodate a single wheelchair.

The space can be positioned for a forward or parallel approach to equipment.

A portion of the clear floor space may be located under fixtures, lavatories or accessories as long as the required knee and toe clearance for people in wheelchairs is provided.


wheelchair clear floor space


Wheelchair Turning Space

A wheelchair requires at least 60" in diameter to make a 180 degree turn.

To conserve space, a T-shaped turning space with aisles 36" wide allowing a three-point turn is also acceptable.

A portion of the diameter or T-shaped turning space may be located under fixtures, lavatories or accessories as long as the required knee and toe clearance is provided.

wheelchair turning space

Mounting Heights

ADAAG guidelines specify that 48" (1220 mm) is the maximum height for a forward reach (unobstructed).

high forward reach from wheelchair

The maximum forward reach over an obstruction with knee space below is 25" (635 mm). When the obstruction projects 20 to 25 inches (510 mm to 635 mm), the maximum high forward reach is 44 inches (1120 mm).

maximum reach over an obstruction from a wheelchair


Maximum Side Reach

If the depth of the obstruction is 24 inches (610 mm) and the maximum height of the obstruction is 34 inches (865 mm), the maximum high side reach over the obstruction is 46 inches (1170 mm).



Countertop (and Sink) Clearances

The countertop or lavatory, should not exceed a height of 34". To allow a forward approach by people in wheelchairs, a clear floor space in front of the lavatory at least 30" wide and 48" deep must be provided with no more than 19" extending under the lavatory.

A lavatory installed in a countertop should be placed within 2" of the front edge for maximum accessibility.
Exposed plumbing under barrier-free lavatories must be either insulated or located to eliminate any contact. Sharp edges must be avoided. A removable protective panel or shroud can be installed underneath an existing lavatory as long as required knee clearance is maintained.


maximum side reach


wheelchair accessibility lava

Controls and operating mechanisms

Faucets for accessible lavatories, showers and baths and controls for accessible toilets, urinals and other restroom accessories must meet ADAAG specifications.

All push buttons, valves, knobs and levers must be operable with one hand, without twisting the wrist or tightly grasping or pinching the control. The maximum force required to operate a faucet or control must not exceed 5 lb. Self-closing faucets that remain open at least 10 seconds are acceptable.

Handicap Toilets (Water Closets)

All restrooms that include toilet stalls in new construction must provide at least one accessible standard compartment that complies with ADAAG requirements. A standard compartment has a minimum width of 60" and a length that allows using a wheelchair to approach the toilet either from the front or side. Horizontal grab bars must be mounted behind the toilet and on the nearest wall or partition.

An alternate compartment, with a width of 36" and grab bars on either side, is acceptable in alterations where a standard stall is technically impossible. An alternate compartment is required in addition to a standard compartment in all new construction that provides six or more stalls.

Seat heights must be 17" to 19" above the finished floor. Flush controls must be placed on the open side of the toilet with the most clear floor space and mounted no higher than 44" above the finished floor.

ADA toilet

Handicap Urinals

When urinals are provided in men's restrooms, the design must include at least one wall-hung or stall-type handicap urinal with an elongated bowl installed with its rim no more than 17" above the finished floor. Although ADA does not specify the dimension, several states, including California, Texas and Illinois, require a urinal lip to extend a minimum of 14" from the finished wall. Flush controls must be mounted no more than 44" above the finished floor and comply with ADAAG specifications. A minimum clear floor space 30" wide by 48" deep must be provided to allow forward approach to the urinal.

ADA Showers

Wheelchair accessible ADA Showers can be either 1) Roll in Showers or 2) Transfer Showers.

ADA roll in showers must provide an inside shower dimension of 60" (1220 mm) x 30" (716 mm). The controls and spray unit on the back (long) wall shall be located a maximum of 27 inches (685 mm) from the side wall where the seat is attached.

ADA roll in shower with folding seat ADA roll in shower no seat

ADA Transfer Showers must have inside dimensions of 36" (915 mm) x 36" (915 mm), The clear floor space shall be at least 48" (1220 mm) and allow for a parallel approach. The clear floor space shall extend 1 foot beyond the shower wall on which the seat is mounted.


ADA transfer shower

Examples of ADA Showers

For more information see:

ADA Shower Seats

A seat shall be provided in shower stalls 36 in by 36 in (915 mm by 915 mm) and shall be as shown in the above diagram.

The seat shall be mounted 17 in to 19 in (430 mm to 485 mm) from the bathroom floor and shall extend the full depth of the stall. In a 36 in by 36 in (915 mm by 915 mm) shower stall, the seat shall be on the wall opposite the controls.

Where a fixed seat is provided in a 30 in by 60 in minimum (760 mm by 1525 mm) shower stall, it shall be a folding type and shall be mounted on the wall adjacent to the controls.

The structural strength of seats and their attachments shall comply with ADAAG 4.26.3 which specifies structural strength of grab bars, tub and shower seats, fasteners and mounting devices. The materials must be rated to handle a stress load of 250 lbs. per foot in all directions.

For more information see:


The complete ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities can be found at:


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