ADA Bathroom Guidelines

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed July 26, 1990 and became effective on January 26, 1992. It is landmark federal legislation designed to open up services and employment opportunities to the millions of Americans with disabilities. View a full history of the ADA.

The ADA requires that all washrooms, whether they're newly constructed or renovated, must be usable by people with disabilities. The original law was composed of five titles dealing with different aspects of prohibiting discrimination against disabled persons, with Title III being the portion of the law that established structural accessibility requirements for design of the ADA compliant bathroom. These standards replaced CABO/ANSI A117.1-1992, which were adopted by many states.

The United States Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. They developed and continue to assess and evaluate the accessible design guidelines known as the ADA Accessibility Guidelines or "ADAAG". The ADAAG contains requirements for new construction and modifications to existing structures to ensure accessibility in accordance with ADA. The Board’s guidelines in and of themselves are not mandatory on the public, but instead serve as the baseline for a variety of federal agencies who do enforce the standards.

In July, 2004, the U.S. Access Board announced the release of new design guidelines as published in the Federal Register July 23, 2004 and amended August 5, 2005.  The new design document was the result of a comprehensive ten year review and update of the Board’s original ADA Accessibility Guidelines. The new document was more consistent with model building codes and industry standards, and had a new numbering system more streamlined in structure and in the organization of chapters. The guidelines were more compatible and consistent with the level of access specified under the guidelines for Federal buildings under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968, which required accessibility of facilities designed, built, altered, or leased with Federal funds.

On March 15, 2011, the Department of Justice adopted the ADA 2010 Standards for Accessible Design. View the current ADA Standards. Click here to view the ADA requirements relative to public restrooms.

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