As a small-business leader, you likely serve a wide variety of clients, including those with disabilities. Ensuring your business facilities meet ADA standards is not only a legal requirement, it also helps you to welcome all your customers fully and serve them well. In your onsite bathrooms, there is much to consider, including toilet heights, door widths, ADA vanity specs and faucet choices.

Understanding the ADA

Since 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has diminished discrimination against people with disabilities in the United States significantly. The ADA covers everything from fair treatment in the workplace to public access and how spaces are designed. It applies to most public spaces, although places of worship, private clubs and airlines are not included under the ADA.

ADA Vanity Height

ADA bathroom counter height specifications are designed to make it easier for people in wheelchairs to reach and use sinks to wash their hands. Current measurement requirements are as follows:

  • Counter heights: No more than 34 inches
  • Faucets: Within a 48-inch reach
  • Faucets on sinks 20 or more inches deep: Within a 44-inch reach
  • Sinks: Like counters, mounted no more than 34 inches from the ground
  • Knee clearance: 27 inches high, 11 to 25 inches deep and 30 inches wide
  • Floor space: Must be kept clear
  • Pipes: Must be insulated under the sink
  • Sink access: The sink must have a 30-by-48-inch access
  • Door swing: Cannot swing into the sink access area

These specifications leave room for a person in a wheelchair to comfortably turn around and pull up to the vanity to wash their hands. Your tape measure is your best friend in determining the changes that must be made to your space. Having an accessible bathroom means avoiding costly fines and creates an atmosphere of hospitality for all guests.

Ability-Inclusive Faucets

In addition to considering the height and reach of your faucets, another important part of ADA compliance is choosing faucet types that are easy to operate. Some of the faucets that meet regulations include the following:

  • Lever-operated faucets
  • Push-type faucets
  • Electronically controlled faucets

Some of these faucets are easier to operate than others, even though they all meet the ADA guidelines. For example, some push-type faucets are hard to push down, especially for people with arthritis or limited strength. If you suspect many of your customers could be immune-compromised, electronically controlled faucets allow them to wash their hands without exposing themselves to germs from the person who washed their hands before them.

More Vanity Considerations

If your business wants to be especially welcoming to people of all abilities, you might choose to go above and beyond what the ADA requires. For extra security, you might also include things like:

  • Extra grab bars at the vanity
  • Service dog leash hooks at the vanity
  • Electronically operated soap dispensers 
  • Accessible paper towels or hand dryers at the vanity
  • Aesthetically pleasing design

It is possible to design a welcoming restroom space that meets ADA specifications, is easy to clean and well decorated. Accessible vanities and faucets come in a wide variety of styles and finishes to meet your design goals.

Other Accessible Bathroom Considerations

While adhering to ADA vanity-sink requirements is a major component of being compliant in your restrooms, there is more to consider. The ADA also offers accessibility guidance and regulations for:

  • Door width and swing
  • Bathtubs
  • Showers
  • Toilets
  • Stall size

While you might not offer showers and bathtubs in your small business, door width and toilet regulations apply to most restrooms. Having the right door width ensures wheelchairs can fit through them, while properly fitted toilets make it possible to transfer from a wheelchair to the toilet. Stall size allows wheelchairs to turn around, a helper to be present or a service dog to wait for its handler in the restroom.