Wheelchair accessible vs. Ambulatory Toilets

Posted on - Wednesday, March 1st, 2023

One of my clients inspired me to write this newsletter. She asked me how many toilets needed to be accessible by the 2010 ADA/2012 TAS. This newsletter will cover multi-user restrooms, single user restrooms and restrooms that could be used for both adults and children.

Multi-User Restrooms

In a multi-user (Gang restroom) one of the toilet compartments must have an accessible toilet used for wheelchairs. The size depends on whether the toilet is wall hung or floor mounted. Also if you are designing for children and they will be the primary user, then the size will be similar to having a floor mounted toilet even if you use a wall mounted. See the figure below

The ADA and TAS has an advisory describing what is a toilet compartment:

Advisory 213.3.1 Toilet Compartments. A toilet compartment is a partitioned space that is located within a toilet room, and that normally contains no more than one water closet. A toilet compartment may also contain a lavatory. A lavatory is a sink provided for hand washing. Full-height partitions and door assemblies can comprise toilet compartments where the minimum required spaces are provided within the compartment.

This is the figure found in the 2010 ADA and the 2012 TAS that shows the size of the wheelchair toiilet compartment.

This photo shows mulitple toilet compartments. Only one compartment will have to be provided for wheelchair users. And there are more than six toilet compartments which also requires an ambulatory compartment.

What is an Ambulatory compartment?

If the restroom has six or more waterclosets/toilets and urinals then the ADA and TAS requires that an ambulatory toilet compartment be provided IN ADDITION TO the wheelchair toilet compartment. These are for people who use other mobility devices such as walkers, crutches, etc.

2010 ADA 213.3.1 Toilet Compartments. Where toilet compartments are provided, at least one toilet compartment shall comply with 604.8.1. In addition to the compartment required to comply with 604.8.1, at least one compartment shall comply with 604.8.2 where six or more toilet compartments are provided, or where the combination of urinals and water closets totals six or more fixtures.

This figure shows the requirements for ambulatory toilet compartments. Notice the depth. Even though the wheelchair toilet compartment allows a 56″ depth, the ambulatory requries a minimum of 60″.

This figure shows a person that uses a cane using the ambulatory toilet compartment.

This restroom has more than six toilets and urinals combined, therefore one compartment should be for wheelchairs and one compartment should be for other mobility devices (ambulatory)

Single User Toilet Rooms

The ADA and TAs both require that EVERY toilet room provided be accessible.

213.2 Toilet Rooms and Bathing Rooms. Where toilet rooms are provided, each toilet room shall comply with 603.
There are several exceptions to this:
1. In alterations where it is technically infeasible to comply with 603, altering existing toilet or bathing rooms shall not be required where a single unisex toilet room or bathing room complying with 213.2.1 is provided and located in the same area and on the same floor as existing inaccessible toilet or bathing rooms.
2. Where exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings or facilities are permitted by 202.5, no fewer than one toilet room for each sex complying with 603 or one unisex toilet room complying with 213.2.1 shall be provided.
3. Where multiple single user portable toilet or bathing units are clustered at a single location, no more than 5 percent of the toilet units and bathing units at each cluster shall be required to comply with 603. Portable toilet units and bathing units complying with 603 shall be identified by the International Symbol of Accessibility complying with 703.7.2.1.
4. Where multiple single user toilet rooms are clustered at a single location, no more than 50 percent of the single user toilet rooms for each use at each cluster shall be required to comply with 603.
Based on exception 4, when you have single user restrooms in a cluster, then only 50% are required to be accessible. Make sure you round up to the nearest whole number (so if you have three restrooms in a cluster, you would need two accessible ones)


This image shows two single user restrooms in a cluster and only one would have to comply. They opted not to take the exception, but they could have.

In a single user restrooms is provided with one toilet, then that one toilet must be accessible. If the single user restroom has two toilets, again only one of the toilets is required to be accessible.

213.3.2 Water Closets. Where water closets are provided, at least one shall comply with 604.213.3.3


This restroom shows two toilets. Even though one is for adults and one is for children, the ADA only requires that one be accessible. Of course this is a minimum requirement and would be a good idea to have both be accessible since they will be used by different people.