ANSI A117.1 vs. ADA

Posted on - Monday, May 3rd, 2021

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (The ADA for short) is sometimes used as a catch-all term for all requirements for designing for persons with dissabilities. What is sometimes misunderstood is that the ADA is a Civil Rights law with design guidelines for public accommodations and commercial facilities. But there are other laws and standards that govern how to design for persons with disabilities that are different from the ADA and still have to be followed. One of the standards are found in the building code. If a municipality has adopted Chapter 11 of the IBC that chapter references another Standards call the ANSI A117.1. The ADA and ANSI are very similar, but there are some differences. In this newsletter I will give you a few examples.

For the sake of this newsletter I wilil be discussing the 2017 ANSI A117.1 Standards. This may or may not be the Standared that has been adopted by the municipality you are designing under and you will need to verify which version you need to follow. Not all the versions have the same requirements.

304 Turning Space

Both the ADA and ANSI A117.1 have requirements for the size of a circular turning space. They used to be the same (60″ diameter), but In the 2017 version of the ANSI the size increased to 67″ min.
Below is the new figure for the 2017 ANSI

604.5.2 Rear Wall Grab Bar

Both in the ADA and the ANSI the section that discusses the rear wall grab bars is 604.5.2 But the location of the grab bar is measured differently in the ANSI than in the ADA. this confuses most installers and we typically find ADA violations based on the assumption that they are both the same.

Note the figure below. It is from the 2017 ANSI A117.1 604.5.2

It shows that the rear wall grab bar is located in relation to the side wall. It should measure 6″ from the side wall to the inner edge of the grab bar and it should have an overall dimension of 42″ min. from the side wall to the outer edge.

This is figure ANSI A117.1 604.5.2 from the 2017 version

Note the figure below. It is from the 2010 ADA section 604.5.2

It shows that the rear wall grab bar is located in relation to toilet. It should also be 36″ long min. just like the ANSI, but we locate it from the center of the toilet so that there is 12″ min. from the center to the inner edge and 24″ min. from the center to the outer edge.
The ADA rear wall grab bar location has no relation to the side wall.

This is figure 604.5.2 from the 2010 ADA Standards. It shows the rear wall grab bar and its lcoation in relation to the toilet.

502 Parking

There are two sections that the ANSI has that the ADA does not: parallel parking and Electrical vehicle charging station parking.

502.9 Parallel Parking

The 2017 ANSI Standards has guidelines for parallel parking for on-street parking. It requires a vehicle space plus an access aisle parallel to the curb and a curb ramp or accessible route close to the spaces.

The figure 502.9.1 above shows on-street parallel parking

502.11 Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations

The 2017 ANSI Standards provide requirements for Electrical Vehicle charging stations. Some of them are

  • Operable parts should be within reach
  • There should be an access aisl adjacent to the parking space with clear floor sapce next to the unit
  • Any protection bollards, curbs and wheel stops should not be located so it obstructs the route or the reaching.