Sinks Mounted Higher Than the Allowable Height and Not Enough Knee/Toe Clearance Under the Sink

Like most standards for accessible design, this standard boils down to one question: How can we ensure that all individuals, including those with limited mobility, can use this facility for its intended purpose?

In public restrooms, many barriers to accessibility arise, and one of the most common issues we see when we are out in the field surveying is the sink.

A person in a wheelchair must have enough space to be able to use the sink, reach its controls and the soap dispenser, and not have the danger of getting their knees or toes clobbered by protruding pipes or other objects.

Unless in a private restroom accessed only through a private office, every toilet facility must adhere to this standard (although, in a lavatory with multiple sinks, only one sink has to comply.)

Like most accessibility barrier issues, its best to consider this prior to building your facility. Depending on the sink design, it requires some forethought on the mounting height.  If it is mounted too high (above 34 inches) then a person in a wheelchair may not be able to reach the sink controls, soaps, etc. However, if it is mounted too low, it may not allow enough space for knee and toe clearance. The general rule there is that there must be 9 inches of clear space from the ground for the toes, and up to at least 27 inches of clear space for the knees.

There is a narrow window that allows both issues to be met, but requires accuracy during the installation of the sink.

On existing sinks that do not comply, there is no quick easy fix.  It typically requires the relocation of the sink, and depending on the design of the sink, it may require complete removal and replacement. Either way, you’re going to have to make an appointment with your general contractor.Knee clearanceFigure 306.3 Knee Clearance, 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

For more detailed information, see Section 606, Lavatories and Sinks, in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

Brad-Gaskins-3Brad Gaskins has more than 30 years experience in the practice of architecture and a comprehensive understanding of professional practice nationwide. Brad brings a unique and valuable perspective to The McIntosh Group’s practice and clients, with a specific expertise in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and national building codes.  Brad has gained recognition as an expert witness for clients with ADA compliance complaints. He represents NACS, The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, as a full voting member on the International Code Council (ICC), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A117.1, Consensus Committee on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. His objective is to share, with the committee for their deliberations, the potential impact of the standards on the convenience store and truckstop industry.

This post was originally created for the National Association of Truck Stop Owners (NATSO). Read the original post at:

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