Maintaining ADA Compliance - Restroom Dispensers

Accessible dispensers can easily be installed in the wrong location, creating a non-compliant situation, whether during new construction or through routine maintenance and replacement. Non-compliance with ADA requirements can lead to Civil and Department of Justice lawsuits.

 It’s not uncommon for even new buildings to have non-compliant fixtures or dispensers. Plant managers often state that since their new building passed final inspection, it must be fully ADA compliant, right? .......Wrong!

There are many steps along the new construction route that can lead to non-compliance. Let me start from the end and work back.

1.  Final Inspection - Building inspectors are required to know many codes, but ADA is a specialty in and of itself and the finer details of ADA compliance, including dispenser placement, can be missed easily. It happens all the time.

2. The installers - can incorrectly mount fixtures, based on personal guess work, or incomplete blueprint details.

 3. The blueprints - can often lack the accessible details or proper notes needed to provide full compliance.


Below is a list of those details needed for proper installation and maintenance of accessible dispensers.

 Mirrors – If only one is provided, then it shall comply for accessibility. When there are more than one mirror, at least one shall be accessible. The mirror shall be mounted within 40 inches above the floor, measured to the lowest reflective edge of the glass (and not the frame).

 All dispensers -including soap and paper towel dispensers shall be mounted at a maximum of 40 inches above the finished floor to the highest operable part. Again, like mirrors, only one of each, but no less than one of each shall be accessible

 Accessible toilet stall dispensers – are never to be mounted above grab bars. The area above grab bars shall always be maintained free of any protrusion. Grab bars are not only used as a gripping surface, but are often used with the entire forearm wedged between the grab bar and the wall to transfer on or off the toilet.

Toilet paper dispensers - in accessible stalls shall be mounted fully within 12 inches of the front of the toilet, beneath the side grab bar, with a minimum of 1-1/2 inch clearance to the grab bar above. Additionally, toilet paper dispensers are not to project any farther than 3 inches from the wall. This then requires, at a minimum, a semi-recessed dispenser with a maximum projection of 3 inches. The 3 inch maximum projection ensures that the required clear floor space in front of the toilet is not encroached upon.

ADA Questions? Ask the expert.

Jon Rose is a California Certified Access Specialist and founder of CASp Plus, Inc. in Burbank, Ca.

Respond to this post, or call me at (818) 391-2570






Related Content