Skip to Content

Do You Need to Have a Disabled Toilet in a Restaurant?

Yes, toilets or generally restaurant restrooms for customers are expected to be accessible to handicapped persons and equipped to be used by individuals in wheelchairs. The federal American Disabilities Act is the governing law that mandates this.

These facilities, especially for the disabled, are also expected to be clearly labelled. They are meant to be equipped with special amenities such as level or ramp access, wider doors, and hand rails. These facilities may be separate or combined; a multi – stall facility, for example, can have a single handicap – access stall, but separate access facilities are needed for men and women.

It’s important to state that restaurants in the United States are regulated by a variety of local, state and federal laws dealing with health and safety of customers and employees. A primary factor in every restaurant design is providing restrooms for customers and employees, and for both men and women in each category.

Sometimes, unisex, disability friendly bathrooms won’t be enough unless it is completely unfeasible to make existing restrooms compliant with ADA requirements—which is hard to justify in most renovations.

Additionally, when renovating or modernizing restrooms from older buildings, smaller accessible toilet stalls are only permitted in situations where installing a larger ADA – compliant stall will affect and cause plumbing code violations.

To comply with the American Disabilities Act, you are expected to first comply with the International Building Code and Plumbing Codes to understand how many restrooms you need.

Have it in mind that the occupancy load requires 100 gross square feet per person. For instance, if you have a 3,000 – square – foot space, the occupancy load is 30 people.

For 1–25 occupants, you need one male and one female restroom. The ADA mandates at least one ADA – compliant restroom for each gender. Therefore, if your floor space is no more than 2,500 square feet, both restrooms will need to be compliant with the ADA.

If instead, your facility has a cluster of single – use restrooms, at least half of them are expected to be ADA – compliant. Older buildings may be exempted from ADA compliance in their restrooms in some cases. Nonetheless, the bathrooms of your restaurant need to become ADA accessible if the building is under construction or renovation.

11 Steps on How to Make Your Restaurant Restrooms ADA Compliant

Before you open your doors for business, it is crucial to consult your local jurisdiction to make sure your plans align with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design as well as compliant with state regulations. Outlined below are some of the most common areas of your restroom that would require additional consideration to comply with ADA regulations.

1. Toilet

  • Wall – hung toilets must have a depth of 56”, while floor – mounted toilets must have a depth of 59”.
  • The top of the toilet seat must be installed at a height of 17” – 19” above the finished floor and 16” – 18” away from the sidewall to the centreline of the toilet.
  • Toilet seats cannot be spring – loaded to return automatically to an upright position.
  • Flush controls are expected to be on the open side of the stall so customers do not need to reach around the bowl to access it.
  • In – Stall Dispensers
  • Toilet paper dispensers must be mounted so that the centre of the dispenser is only 7” – 9” in front of the edge of the toilet bowl and unobstructed by the side bar.
  • The opening for the toilet paper dispenser must be 15” – 19” above the finished floor.
  • For a handicap stall, toilet paper dispensers that do not control or limit paper delivery are recommended to keep guests from needing to repeatedly reach for more paper.
  • Seat cover dispensers must be 15” – 48” above the finished floor.

2. Bathroom Layout

  • Signage: Your customers must easily locate the restroom and identify promptly if the restroom is handicap accessible, indicated by signs placed outside of the bathroom doors.
  • Mounting Heights: For amenities like dispensers and dryers to be accessible, their operable parts are expected to be located no higher than 48″ above the finished floor and no lower than 15.
  • Equipment Accessibility: Equipment and accessories in a handicap bathroom or stall are expected to be designed for a forward or parallel approach, as well as for both left – and right – hand access.
  • Manoeuvring Space: You must provide your disabled customers with enough space to easily manoeuvre to the toilets and sinks within the bathroom or handicap stall. A 30” x 48” wheelchair requires either a circular diameter of 60” or a T – shaped turning space that is 60” in length with a 36” width.
  • Passageways: All entrances and exits must be lined up to allow for traffic in both directions. Bathroom aisles are expected to give room for simple wheelchair turning and offer 67” of space between stall doors and lavatories. Passageways into the restroom are expected to be a minimum of 48” wide.
  • Accessories: Accessories are expected to have a 30” x 48” clearing in front of them to allow for easy access. Also note that they must be fully recessed into the wall to prevent injuries.
  • Handicap Stalls: In a bigger bathroom, there must be at least one 60” x 60” handicap stall. If there are 6 stalls or more, a 35” – 37” wide ambulatory accessible stall is also needed.

3. Doors

  • Doors are expected to be out swing and stay at least 36” wide to accommodate wheelchair – bound customers.
  • Door handles and latches are expected to be easy to operate with one hand without pinching, twisting, or tightly grasping, and mounted between 34” – 48” inches above the finished floor.
  • Doors must require less than 5 pounds of force to push or pull open.

4. Grab Bars

  • Disabled toilet stalls are expected to have two horizontal grab bars, one on the rear wall above the toilet and the other on the side wall or partition closest to the toilet. A third 18” vertical grab bar may also be added above the grab bar on the side wall.
  • The side wall grab bar is expected to be between 42” – 48” long and located a maximum of 12” away from the rear wall.
  • The rear wall grab bar are expected to be 36” long and located at a position that allows for 24” of the bar to extend past the centreline of the toilet in the direction of the open space of the stall.
  • Grab bars are expected to be installed at a height of 33” – 36” above the finished floor and extend 1.5” away from the wall.
  • Grab bars are expected to be rounded and smooth, and they must have a diameter of 1.25” – 2”.
  • ADA compliant grab bars are expected to be securely anchored to the wall, be stationary in their brackets, and be able to support 250 lbs. of force.

5. Urinals

  • Note that the rim of an ADA compliant urinal is expected to be a maximum of 17” above the finished floor.
  • Urinals must have a minimum depth of 13.5” from the wall to the outer rim of the bowl.
  • Flush controls are expected to be at maximum 48” above the finished floor.
  • There must also be a clear floor space of 30” x 48” in front of the urinal to allow for a forward approach.

6. Sinks

  • There ought to be at least one sink in the restroom that meets ADA requirements.
  • Sinks are expected to be installed with enough clearance underneath for a customer in a wheelchair to be able to reach the faucets. The sink basin must be a maximum of 34” above the finished floor, leaving a knee clearance of 27” high, 30” wide, and 11” – 25” deep.
  • The customer must have 9” in height and 17” – 25” in depth of toe clearance without hitting any plumbing.
  • Note that any exposed plumbing must be insulated and padded to prevent any injuries to customers’ legs. A protective panel can be installed to block off the plumbing but are expected to still allow for 8” deep of knee clearance and 11” deep of toe clearance with a 9” height.
  • Countertop sinks must be installed as close to the edge as possible to allow for easy access.

7. Faucets

  • Faucets are expected to be easy to handle with one hand and can be electronically controlled, lever – , push – , or touch – operated.
  • Faucets must only require a maximum of 5 lbs. of force to operate and must not require twisting, pinching, or tight grasping.
  • The reach depth to the faucet is expected to not exceed 11″.

8. Soap Dispensers

  • Soap dispensers must be mounted at a maximum of 44” above the finished floor.
  • Customers must be able to simultaneously use soap dispensers and faucets without interference.
  • The reach depth to the soap dispenser is expected to not exceed 11” and must only require a maximum of 5 lbs. of force to operate.

9. Mirrors

  • Mirrors must not have any exposed edges that may lead to injury.
  • The bottom edge of the reflective surface of a mirror located above a sink must measure 40” maximum above the finished floor. If the mirror is not above a sink or countertop, it must be located 35” above the finished floor.
  • A full – body mirror is recommended to provide the most inclusive experience.

10. Hand Drying

  • Touch – free or motion – activated electric hand dryers provide an easy – to – use alternative to paper towel dispensers. Nonetheless, they cannot extend beyond 4” from the wall.
  • A clearing of 30” x 48” must be provided in front of the hand dryer to allow for a forward approach.
  • Hand dryers must be mounted between 40” – 48” above the finished floor.
  • Hand dryers and towel dispensers must allow for left – hand and right – hand approaches. If the unit does not allow for both, one of each type is recommended.
  • If using a paper towel dispenser, the opening must be at a maximum of 48” above the finished floor.

11. Trash Disposal

  • Note that a trash receptacle on the floor can create a barrier or obstruction to wheelchair – bound customers. If used, floor trash cans must be out of pathways and not placed in front of sinks, hand dryers, or paper towel dispensers.
  • Recessed trash disposal units keep floors clear. They must not project more than 4” from the wall and must be mounted with the opening at 27” above the finished floor.


According to reports in 2015, over 53 million people in the United States live with disabilities. Adding a handicap bathroom to your restaurant can help you cater to those customer’s needs, prevent unintentional discrimination, and may also lead to tax deductions for your business.