Federal law dictates that toilets in public buildings, businesses and other areas of public access must meet certain accessibility criteria under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The act, signed into law in 1990, intends to allow people living with disabilities to access facilities and services as seamlessly and equally as possible. Central to toilet accessibility are height requirements so the facilities remain accessible to people in wheelchairs or with other mobility-based disabilities.
ADA-accessible toilets must be between 17 and 19 inches from the floor to the top of the toilet seat, allowing for an easier transition from wheelchairs. ADA-accessible toilets primarily used by children below the age of 12 must be between 11 and 17 inches from the floor to the top of the toilet seat.
Read More: OSHA Toilet Requirements
Men's room urinals must have rims no higher than 17 inches from the floor for ease in use by wheelchair users or others with mobility-based disabilities. Rims higher than 17 inches make access difficult or impossible for those positioned lower to the ground than people who are able to walk.
Toilet Paper Dispensers and Toilet Controls
Toilet paper dispensers must be mounted at least 36 inches from the back wall and at least 19 inches from the floor to remain reachable to those with disabilities. The dispensers should not obstruct grab bars or other toilet-mounting aids. Toilet flush controls should be near the toilet, free of obstructions and should operate with a closed fist, minimal gripping or through automatic flushing sensors.
Grab bars to aid in transferring from wheelchairs or upon which to lean when attempting to sit on toilets must be 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter to provide sufficient gripping surface. The ADA requires such bars be mounted at least 1-1/2 inches from all walls to provide clearance for fingers to grip completely around the bars.
A standard ADA-accessible toilet must have a 17 to 19 inches floor-to-bowl rim height, which is the distance from the floor to the top of the toilet seat.
Marc Chase is a veteran investigative newspaper reporter and editor of 12 years. Specializing in computer-assisted reporting, he holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Southern Illinois University and a Master of Arts in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois.