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How-to Guide on Improving Access

You have probably noticed accessible parking spaces and accessible stalls in restrooms, but do you know if they are truly accessible for persons with disabilities? Do you really understand what it takes for an area to be accessible?

This online guide will give you the basic information needed to improve access for persons with disabilities. Specifically, this guide will focus on the areas where the most common mistakes occur. Check out the flipbook below for the complete "How to Guide on Common Accessibility Mistakes." You can also click on the links to the right to review the basic requirements of the specific areas covered in the guide.

How To Guide on Common Accessibility Problems

Want to download this guide? Click here to download a PDF.

Want to test your knowledge of accessibility standards? Take our quick quiz on the common accessibility mistakes and test your knowledge! (Coming soon!)


Access Routes


An accessible route is a path that can comprise one or more of the following elements: doorways, ramps, curb ramps excluding flared sides, elevators, and platform lifts. Anything that is not included in this list (such as steps) cannot be part of an accessible route. All of the accessible route's components must meet the following requirements set forth in the 2010 Standards:


  • Accessible route must be marked with signs directing people to the accessible entrance
  • The route must connect to an access aisle
  • The route must be free of obstructions, such as curbs, bumps greater than ¾ inch, broken or missing concrete or macadam
  • Slope must be no steeper than 1:20, with a cross-slope no steeper than 1:48
  • Must be 36 inches wide or greater with passing spaces every 200 feet (only for outdoor access routes)
  •  Surface must be firm, stable and slip resistant


Click Here for Interactive Standards Map for Access Routes »

Access to Goods

A person with a disability should be able to access the same goods and services as a person without a disability. The following standards apply once an individual with a disability has entered your place of business or facility seeking access to goods and services:

  • Aisles must be a minimum of 36 inches wide
  • No obstacles or objects should protrude more than 4 inches into the path of travel
  • Elevators or platform lifts should be available to access all public areas
  • Signs with raised, contrasting lettering and Braille should be posted throughout
  • Slope must be no steeper than 1:20, with a cross-slope no steeper than 1:48
  • Interior doors should be 32 inches or wider, should include hardware that can be operable with a closed fist, and should be opened with less than five pounds of force
  • Carpet should be no more than ½ inch thick
  • Service counters should be no higher than 36 inches and should take into account parallel approach or have a pull under space

Click Here for Interactive Standards Map for Access To Goods & Services »


Bathrooms are one of the most common areas where accessibility mistakes occur. 

An accessible stall and an ambulatory stall are two different types of restrooms; however, they are often mistaken as interchangeable.  To create an accessible restroom, review the following standards: 

  • Accessible stall should have a 60 inch diameter of clear floor space, or a “T” shaped space within a 60 inch square
  • Sink mounted between 27-34 inches with 8 inches under for knee space
  • Piping should be wrapped
  • The faucet should be operable without tight grasp or twisting of the wrist
  • The toilet should be mounted 16-18 inches from the wall, with the flusher 17-18 inches high on the open side of the toilet
  • Grab bars should be mounted 33-36 inches high. The side grab bar should be mounted 12 inches from the wall and be 42 inches in length. Rear grab bar should span 24 inches left of the centerline of the toilet and 12 inches to the right, for 36 inches total.
  • Mounted items should be 12 inches minimum above the grab bars and 1½ inches minimum below the grab bars

In some cases, creating a fully accessible, single-user or "family" restroom will solve any accessibilty issues. This is true in many older or historic buildings in which the overall ADA standards are much more lenient. However, it is a best practice to always provide an accessible stall in a multi-user restroom in order to meet this standard and be fully accessible. 

Click Here for Interactive Standards Map for Bathrooms »


No matter how accessible the route to the main entrance of a building or facility may be, the entrance is another area in which common accessibility mistakes occur. Improperly marked entrances, heavy doors, skinny doors, inaccessible hardware and the lack of a ramp or lift are often the primary mistakes at entrances. Please see the following standards in order make an accessible entrance:

  • Accessible entrance must be clearly marked
  • The entrance must be accessed without the use of stairs
  • Accessible entrance must connect to an access route
  • The doorway must be 32 inches or greater when the door is opened at 900
  • If the door opens out, there should be at least 18 inches on the latch side of the door for maneuvering
  • The door should be operable with a closed fist
  • Thresholds should be less than ¾ inches
  • The door should take 5 seconds to close from 900 to 120 from the latch
  • The door should be opened with less than five pounds of force (unless it’s a fire door)

Remember that a proper access route is needed for a person with a disability to even get to the entrance. Please refer to the access route section for more information. Also, note that automatic door openers are not a requirement of the ADA; however, it is a best practice to install these openers wherever possible to become fully accessible.

Click Here for Interactive Standards Map for Entrances »


To understand the required number of accessible parking spaces needed at your business or facility, please refer to the chart below:

Number of required parking spaces chart

Now that you know how many spaces are required, all accessible parking should adhere to the following standards:

  • Accessible parking spaces should be at least 96 inches wide (minimum) with a 60 inch wide access aisle
  • Van accessible spaces should be 132 inches wide with a 60 inch wide access aisle–OR–96 inches wide with a 96 inch wide access aisle
  • An access aisle should be marked and connected to an accessible route
  • Signs should be posted at a minimum of 60 inches above the ground and should display the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA). Van spaces should be marked as such.
  • Slopes for accessible parking should be no steeper than 1:48

Click Here for Interactive Standards Map for Parking »





Click on the links below to learn about the accessibility requirements of each area:

Access Routes
Access to Goods


A majority of accessibilty issues can be solved with proper signage and implementing disability friendly policies and practices. For more information, visit the following pages (Coming soon!):

Proper Signage
Person-First Language
Service Animals