The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has rules to ensure that public lodging spaces and facilities remain accessible to the disabled. These regulations apply to places like hotels, motels and other places of temporary residence. They do not apply to private homes that rent fewer than five rooms. One of the ADA rules specifies the required height for thermostat placement. This ensures that people in wheelchairs or with vision problems can adjust the thermostat settings without assistance.
A forward reach is when a person faces an item and extends his hand forward to reach it. If a thermostat is approachable only by forward reach its maximum height is 48 inches (1220 mm). The minimum height for this thermostat is 15 inches (380 mm). If there are obstacles in front of the thermostat they must be taken into consideration when calculating forward reach.
A side reach is when a person is positioned parallel to an object and reaches a hand to her side to touch it. If a thermostat is approached with a side reach it can be placed at a maximum height of 54 inches (1370 mm). The minimum height for this thermostat is 9 inches (230 mm). Just as with forward reach, if there are obstacles in front of the thermostat they must be taken into consideration when calculating side reach.
Orientation to Guest Room
Another ADA rule for thermostats requires that all guests who are blind or have impaired vision must be offered a room orientation. If the guest accepts this offer you must explain the location of all the features in their room. This includes the thermostat, bed, lamps, remote control, microwave, windows and bathroom. You must also go over the instructions for use of these items including how to adjust the thermostat settings.
Failure to comply with the ADA Standards of Accessible Design thermostat height rules could damage your business. The Department of Justice may issue hefty fines to compensate disabled people who have complained. Repeated offenses can increase the level of these fines. To ensure this does not happen, ask your contractor about ADA compliance and keep your thermostats unobstructed and within the proper height requirements.
Evelyn Broderick has been a writer since 2004. Her work has been published by the Jewish Alliance for Women in Science. She holds a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and biology from Macaulay Honors College and is pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. in immunology at Sloan Kettering. She is also a member of the New York Academy of Sciences.