Accessibility in a Retail Clothing Store

Posted on - Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Commercial facilities are places where commerce takes place, such as retail stores. They are one of the two types of projects that are mentioned in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act as having to comply with the Design Guidelines. In the Guidelines, there isn’t one chapter which talks directly about commercial facilities, or retail spaces. You have to piece it together from various sections. This newsletter will discuss a clothing store to show which sections it must adhere to.

Clothes Rods

In storage closets that are used by the public and are not part of a work are, clothes rods are required to be provided within a reach range as shown in Figure 38 below.

But in a clothing store that has clothes rods throughout, this requirement does not apply…

4.1.3(12)(b) Shelves or display units allowing self-service by customers in mercantile occupancies shall be located on an accessible route complying with 4.3. Requirements for accessible reach range do not apply.

Dressing Rooms

Dressing rooms in the ADAAG are covered in section 4.35. Dressing rooms in retail stores are not only the place where dressing rooms are found, but here is the summary of the requirements of an accessible dressing room in a retail store per ADA 4.35.

1. An accessible dressing room with a sliding or swing door requires a 180 degree turning circle inside.
2. A dressing room requires a fixed bench.
3. The door cannot swing into the clear floor space of the dressing room.
4. And if a mirror is provided, then a full length mirror needs to be provided as well.

The dressing room shown in the picture, does not meet any of the requirements. The door swings in, there is no 180 degree turning space and no fixed bench. But if they changed the door to a curtain, then the requirement for turning does not apply.

“…Turning space shall not be required in a private dressing room entered through a curtained opening at least 32 in (815mm) wide if clear floor space complying with section 4.2 renders the dressing room usable by a person using a wheelchair.”

All the other provisions (i.e. bench, mirrors, etc.) are still required even if you don’t have a door.

Check out counters/registers

Section 7 Business and Mercantile discusses sales counters. Department stores and retail stores have requirements for their counters that have a cash register used for sales. At least one of each type of counter shall have a counter 36″ long, at 36″ high a.f.f. Depth is not specified, but in Texas they recommend 12″ minimum. These should be dispersed and be on an accessible route.

There are some instances when an “equivalent Facilitation” may be allowed if it proves to be an equal or better accessible solution.  Some examples would be folding check writing counters, or sliding counters which allow for the main counter to be higher and the accessible surface temporaily put away until required.