Posted on - Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

The ADA Standards has requirements for fixed benches. According to Section 903 they must have a back support, be 42″ long, between 20″-24″ deep, between 17″-19″ high and have a 30″x48″ space next to the short axis of the bench.

Pop Quiz:

Benches that comply with ADA and TAS section 903 are required in the following spaces:

a) outdoor courtyards
b) shower rooms
c) bus stops
d) if you said a, b or c please read this newsletter

Where are benches required?

Based on information received from the U.S. Access Board, compliance with ADA 903 (Benches) shall be required only when specifically referenced in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.  This also applies to Texas 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards.
Benches complying with section 903 are only required at the following spaces:
Saunas and Steam Rooms ADA 612.2
The sauna shown in this section did not have the proper bench
Dressing, Fitting, and Locker Rooms ADA 803.4
Dressing rooms are required to have fixed benches with back support.  This bench is located up against the wall and therefore has back support.
This locker room does not have a compliant bench.  It lacks back support
If a bench is not up against the wall then a back support per figure 903.4 should be provided.
Holding Cells and Housing Cells ADA 807.2.2
This holding cell has a bench with back support, but it does not have a 30″ clearance next to the short side.
If a fixed bench is provided in other spaces, they do not have to comply with section 903.

Fixed bench seating at assembly areas

What about fixed or built in benches at courtyards, amphitheaters or or even at parks? These would be considered part of an assembly area (as defined by 106.5.10) and would have to comply with Fixed or built-in benches requirements found in ADA 221 and 802.
First, for assembly seating, you would have to have four or more for the requirements to apply.
The assembly seating then should comply with section 802 which requires a companion seating, space for wheelchairs and other requirements
Wheelchair seating should be integral part of the seats as shown in this amphitheater
Benches that are used as part of an assembly area will require companion seating which should have shoulder to shoulder alignment
This bench is located at a park near a basketball area.  This type of bench will not require the items listed in section 903.  In addition, since there are only two benches, they are not required to comply with the assembly seating section.

Other benches

There are other areas that you might find benches:
Shower rooms often have benches
Because shower rooms are not required to have a bench that complies with section 903, the bench provided is acceptable as long as it does not interfere with the clearance into the shower.  It also does not constitute a “shower seat” since it is located outside the shower compartment
bus stops also might have a bench
The bench adjacent to the bus stop and the one located inside the bus stop are not required to comply with either section 903 or section 802. 


and even at spa treatment rooms
The bench located at the corner of the treatment room is not fixed and does not have the dimensions required in section 903.  But this bench is not required to comply, and therefore it is acceptable in this location and configuration.
The spaces listed above are not required to provide a bench, therefore if a bench is provided it will not have to comply. ADA  only requires compliance in dressing rooms, fitting rooms, locker rooms, saunas, and holding cells

TDLR has a Technical Memo that explains this fact.

Upcoming Continuing Education Opportunities

November 5 and 6: “Texas Accessibility Standards: A Success story of inclusion for over 20 years” TSA convention in Dallas, Texas (pricing for the convention go up on September 2nd)

November 17th: “Applying the ADA on Existing and Altered Buildings” provided by Green CE

On Demand Webinar: “Understanding the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design”

If you are interested in Building Code seminars check out my colleague Shahla Layendecker with SSTL Codes

If you want to learn more about these standards, be sure to check out my books:

“The ADA Companion Guide”  “Applying the ADA” published by Wiley. 



They are available for sale now. (also available as an e-book)

If you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714

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