ADA Guidelines For Public Restrooms

ADA Restroom Heights for Hand Dryers and Paper Towel Dispensers 

Whether you own a restaurant, small business, or any type of facility with a public restroom, it is crucial to keep in mind all ADA guidelines.

ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is a law that was enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against those with disabilities in public spaces. This includes public stores, restaurants, schools, transportation, workspace and much more. Private areas in these locations, such as a restroom, must also comply with ADA guidelines.

While there have been updates to the law in the past 26 years or so, we will focus on the most recent (2010) that affects ADA guidelines for public restrooms. This is titled the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. In other words, it helps people like you construct or renovate your public restroom to meet all ADA guidelines. Refusing to do so can result in fines and the possibility of being shut down completely!

As you’ve read in our other blogs, electric hand dryers are making paper towel dispensers obsolete. Hand dryers save money and reduce waste when compared to paper towels in the restroom. If you’re a facility owner with a public restroom, it’s time to make the switch!

Browse ADA Hand Drying Solutions

Hold on, though. It’s not as easy as simply tearing down the paper towel dispenser and installing a hand dryer in the same place. Hopefully, you met the ADA paper towel dispenser height guideline when you installed it. Now, when switching to a hand dryer, you have to comply with the proper ADA hand dryer height.

ADA Paper Towel Dispenser Height

The ADA states that paper towels must be accessible from 15 inches to 48 inches above the ground. They must also allow both forward and side reach for people in wheelchairs.

That maximum value of 48 inches is important to remember. This doesn’t mean your paper towel dispenser can’t exceed that on the wall; it means that the operable part of the dispenser must be no higher than 48 inches. This could include the handle or lever, a touch-free sensor and more – it all depends what type of dispenser is present.

ADA Hand Dryer Height

Much like the paper towels, ADA hand dryer height includes the operable function of the hand dryer. All buttons and touch-free sensors must fall between a height of 38 inches to 48 inches off the floor. Push buttons must be operable with one hand and should start the hand dryer with a force of no more than five pounds.

The ADA also states that hand dryers must be accessible for both right-handed and left-handed users. This allows for various wheelchair approaches in the bathroom, ensuring that every person can successfully dry his or her hands without a problem. Hand dryers also should be visibly different than surrounding materials so the vision-impaired community can easily access the dryer. Hand dryers must protrude a certain length from the wall, as well, so visually impaired visitors can feel them easier.

While these may seem like minuscule details for your facility, it is important to keep in mind ADA hand dryer height requirements. They very well could be the difference of you staying open or shutting down.