The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 to ensure equal accessibility in the workplace as well as in government and public buildings, and ADA standards may be applicable to some residential construction projects -- for example, homeless shelters. If you're required to comply to ADA standards, your state may have its own requirements above and beyond those outlined in the ADA, so it's always best to check with your local building department before building or remodeling a space to which the public has access.
Bathroom Sink Requirements
To be ADA compliant, every fixture in the bathroom, including the sink, must be accessible to a person in a wheelchair. This places limits on the height of the sink and its position on the counter. An ADA-compliant sink must have knee space underneath it, and the pipes must be protected, either by padding them with insulation or by installing a protective cover.
- Sink Height -- The maximum distance from the floor to the highest point on the sink cannot exceed 34 inches. If the sink is on a counter, it must be placed as close to the front as possible, and the counter must be less than 34 inches in height if the rim of the sink extends above it.
- Knee Space -- The distance from the bottom of the sink apron to the floor must be at least 27 inches. The knee space must extend in at least 8 inches from the front of the sink.
- Toe Space -- Enough space must exist under the plumbing pipes for the toes to extend in at least 11 inches from the front of the sink. When a wheelchair-bound person uses the sink, their toes should be no farther than 6 inches from the back wall. The space between the bottom of the plumbing pipes or a protective barrier -- if one is used -- must be at least 9 inches.
- Clearance in Front of the Sink -- To allow a person in a wheelchair to navigate in front of the sink, there must be at least 48 inches clearance from the point at which he has 27 inches vertical clearance for his legs and 9 inches vertical clearance for his toes. There must also be at least 30 inches lateral clearance.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.