Diaper Changing Stations

Posted on - Friday, May 1st, 2015

Baby changing stations have become a part of every restroom design.  But often times, they are not thought about when designing for accessibility.  What happens if a person in a wheelchair needs to change their baby’s diaper?  What if the location of the baby changing station will be in the way of the restroom door or the toilet stall door?  What if the only diaper changing station is in the accessible stall?


 This newsletter will shed some lights on the nuances of the requirements

Scoping and Technical criteria for Diaper Changing Stations

According the the ADA, ANSI and TAS a baby changing station is considered a “non-employee work surface” and therefore must follow the scoping requirements of ADA/TAS section 226 which requires that 5% (but no less than one) should be accessible and meet section 902 requirements.

Section 1109.2 of the IBC also states:

“at least one of each type of fixture, element, control or dispenser in each accessible toilet room and bathing room shall be accessible”.

 And even though it does not mention diaper changing stations, the 2009 ANSI has section 603.5 that specifically discusses Diaper changing tables, and it requires that it should follow section 309 and 902.

Section 309 of both ADA and ANSI requires that the height of the operating mechanism (handle to open and close) be located no higher than 48″ a.f.f.



The diaper changing station shown above was mounted so that the opening mechanism was mounted at 51″ a.f.f.

Section 902 requires that once open, the table/counter be no higher than 34″ a.f.f.



This diaper changing station was mounted so that the top of the table higher than 34″ a.f.f.

Section 902 also requires that,once open, the table/counter have a forward approach knee clearance that is 27″ a.f.f. min.



This diaper changing station was mounted incorrectly and only provided 24″ a.f.f. of knee clearance

Proper and improper locations

Now that we know how to make diaper changing stations/tables accessible, we need to explore the location within the restroom which will allow the technical requirements to be met without creating any other accessibility issues.

One of the requirements is for the diaper changing station to have a forward approach knee space.  The location of the table or counter must not have anything in front of it which will impede the forward approach.


This baby changing station does not have a clear forward approach because the toilet is in the way

Can the diaper changing station be inside a toilet compartment?  Yes as long as there is enough room for a forward approach. Even though it is not a violation to have the only diaper changing station in the accessible stall, it would be recommended that it be located so that most of the public can use it without having to wait for the stall to be freed up.


The diaper changing station in the photo above is located in the toilet compartment, but it has plenty of room after entering to have a forward approach 

When locating the diaper changing station on a wall within a single user restroom, it is important to locate it so that it is not in the way of the door maneuvering clearance.  The door should be able to swing clear of the diaper changing station like it is shown on the drawing below 


Not only do we have to be concerned about the diaper changing station when it is closed, but also when it is open.  If the diaper changing station is left open and a person in a wheelchair wants to come into the restroom, they would have a hard time maneuvering through the door since there is not a clear 60″ of floor space. 


The red rectangle in the drawing above represents the open baby changing station which is in the way of the door clearance on the pull side.

Upcoming Continuing Education Opportunities

We will be presenting at the 2015 National AIA convention in Atlanta.  Our class will be “Applying the ADA in Existing and altered facilities: TH118 on May 14th

Save the Date:

July 24th will be ADA Awareness day in Dallas Texas.  The AIA Dallas’s Codes and Standards committee is planning a day full of great programs.  Stay tuned.  If you want to be a sponsor, let me know.

If you are interested in getting a Barrier Free/ADA CEU online, I partnered with Green CE.  We will be presenting live webinars this year.  We will post details as they become available

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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