Accessible Counters

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Abadi Accessibility is proud to support the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 31st Anniversary. On July 26th we celebrate this important civil rights law that works to ensure all people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Celebrate with us by visiting: #ADA31 #ThanksToTheADA

How are you planning to celebrate Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 31st Anniversary? This July 26th the ADA National Network and individuals, communities, and organizations across the country will be participating. Learn how you can be involved by visiting #ADA31 #ThanksToTheADA

Introduction to our newsletter:

After I wrote my first newsletter about counters, my clients are still not clear on all the different requirements for the different types of counters and fixed or built-in surfaces that the ADA requires to be accessible. First of all let me review that there are five type of counters scoped in the ADA Standards: Work surfaces, dining counters, service counters, sales counters and check out counters. Then there are two type of counters that are not scoped: work area counters and non-work area common use counters that do not fall under the other listed. There are also Food service lines, as well as other portions public side service areas. For those please check out my newsletter I wrote I 2014.

This newsletter will explain the different requirements for dining surfaces, non-employee work surfaces and sales and service counters.

Dining Counters

According to Scoping section 226, at least 5% of seating spaces and standing spaces at dining surfaces must comply with 902. Standing spaces are those counters where people might stand to eat or drink rather than sit. Those counters must also comply. Some examples of dining counters are bars where drinks are served, fast food establishments with fixed tables, and booths and banquettes at a restaurant.

These fixed dining counters in a cafeteria is an example of a dining surface.

a bar is an example of a dining surface

Section 902 gives us direction on how to make the dining surfaces accessible:

  1. There must be a knee clearance complying with section 306 so that a person in a wheelchair will approach and use the counter in a forward approach
  2. The height of the counter must be between 28″-34″ a.f.f. PLEASE NOTE….WE RECOMMEND TO NEVER USE THE MINIMUMS OR MAXIMUMS WHEN DESIGNING.

A dining counter should have a 30″ width and a 17″ min. depth at the knee clearance.

A dining counter has a forward approach knee clearance and it is 34″ a.f.f.

This is a dining counter but also a service window. It is acceptable to have the dining counter in front of the service counter

Non-Employee Work Surfaces

Section 226 tells you that 5% of non-employee work surfaces must comply and meet the requirements set forth in section 902. These are also required to be dispersed throughout the space they are in. Section 902 states that a work surface must have a forward approach with a knee space per section 306 and be 30″ wide minimum and 34″ high maximum

Study carrols in a library is an example of a non-employee work surface

Diaper changing counters are also considered a “work surface”

A patient registration desk is another example of a non-employee work surface

All the requirements in section 902 are for non-employee work surfaces (or for the public). Employee work surfaces that are part of a work area are exempted until such time when a person with disabilities is hired at which point, the surface must be provided to accommodate them and their abilities.

Sales and Service counters

Where provided, at least one of each type of sales counter and service counter shall comply with 904.4.

Where counters are dispersed throughout the building or facility, counters complying with 904.4 also shall be dispersed.

Keep in mind that the requirements are the either sales or service counters. The term “transaction” is no longer used. A transaction could occur but it is not the only pre-requisite for compliance.

The counter shown above has different functions (some are sales and some are service). Each one must have a portion at an accessible height

Section 904 gives us the following requirements for sales and service counters:

  1. 36” high maximum
  2. Same depth as the main counter
  3. 36” length min.
  4. Parallel approach OR Forward approach allowed

the accessible couter must be 36″ a.f.f. maximum and at least 36″ long

A sales or service counter can have either with a forward approach knee clearance or a parallel or side approach.

The accessible portion of the counter must be the same depth as the main (or public) side of the counter. Even though the reception counter is deeper than the public counter, the accessible portion will only have to be 36″ a.f.f. maximun and 36″ min. long the same depth as the public counter (which can be higher than 36″ a.f.f.)

The reception desk is considered a “service” counter because information is a service a business would provide to their guests. The one shown above did not have a 36″ long counter

A service or sales counter may not be the type that is flipped up, or pushed in once it is used. it must be a permanent counter that is always available.

Accessible Hotels: Common Mistakes

Friday, May 1st, 2020

Transient Lodging: Common Mistakes

Being all cooped up at home due to the Covid19, made me nostalgic for traveling and staying at hotels.  So I thought I would dedicate this newsletter to that topic!  After the ADA became a law, people with disabilities were able to also enjoy staying in hotels with friends and family.
As an accessibility specialist, I review and inspect many hotels for ADA compliance.  One of the most common mistakes that I see is that the corporation that owns the hotels has a “standard” that they want to adhere to.  This may be for the type of fixtures they install, or the aesthetic or certain amenities they provide.  Sometimes the “corporation” may not understand the ADA standards and they will select fixtures that are not compliant with the ADA.
as I will explain in the next entry, the showers are not always designed correctly for ADA
Today I will focus on some of those “corporate standards” that I find during my inspections that are not compliant with the ADA or other accessibility standards.

Minimun number of guest rooms with communication features

One of the common mistakes I see is the lack of understanding about guest rooms that must have communication features. These are rooms for people who are hearing impaired or sometimes for guest who are visually impaired.
The table below shows the amount of rooms that are required to be available with communication features:
#ADAFact:  At least one guest room (but no more than 10%)  is required to provide  both mobility features and communication features as described in the 2010 ADA
That means that you can’t have all your guest rooms with communication features in the mobility rooms.  But you are required to provide at least one of the rooms with both communication and mobility features.
In the 1991 ADAAG this was not required and some establishments made all the rooms with communication features the same as the rooms with mobility features.  Communication features must be available as soon as the guest arrives.  It is no longer allowed to have a device at the front desk for the guest’s to request.
The drawing above shows some examples of communication features


this is a hard wired notification device for the hearing impaired.
There typically is more communication rooms required than mobility rooms, and therefore some would be exclusively rooms with communication features.  Designers must be careful to make sure that they are providing 90% of the rooms with communication features without mobility features.

Hand Held Shower Units and Adjustable Rods

In guest rooms that are required to have mobility features, the bathrooms within the room must comply.  One of the common mistakes I see are hand held shower units.  The ADA requires that all accessible showers and tubs have hand held shower units.  The units must be located where  a person in a wheelchair or other mobility devices can reach it and use it.
this is a roll in shower and the hand held unit and control are within 27_ from the seat wall
In a roll in shower it must be no farther than 27″ from the seat wall.  In a transfer shower it is located right in front of the seat and in a tub it is located at the control wall.
in the tub the hand held shower unit is at the control wall
this is a transfer shower and the hand held device is also at the control wall
One thing that gets missed is the fact that the hand held shower unit MUST have an on/off control with a non-positive shut off directly on the unit.  Most of the ones I see installed, have different spray settings, but no on/off control.
this hand held unit only controls the spray but it does not turn off the shower unit when being held
This unit has the on/off controls on the unit
A non-positive shut off is also required.  What that means is that if a person who is using the shower unit needs to turn it off, the water will not be completely off but will trickle a bit.  This will prevent the pressure to be built up and will not over spray once it gets turned back on.

Wish you were here…..

Pools, fitness rooms, guest laundry, saunas, golf or any other sports, lobby, restaurants, bars, reception desks all must be accessible.  I will devote another newsletter for those specifically….but for now, enjoy the nice images and imagine you are all there!  Stay safe!

Some Resources I used for this Newsletter:

I found this very interesting website for people with disabilities who travel.   The Wheelchair Travel: The Good and Bad of ADA Hotel Bathrooms