Posts Tagged ‘design’

Location of Accessible Counters

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Question: Where must the accessible location be at a reception counter?

We begin by looking at the guidelines from the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board). This is a federal board responsible for writing guidelines for compliance to PL101-336, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). That guideline is called the ADA & ABA Accessibility Guidelines; Final Rule of July 23, 2004, with an effective date of September 21, 2004.

904 Check-out Aisles and Sales and Service Counters.
904.4 Sales and Service Counters.
904.4.2 Forward Approach.
“A portion of the counter surface that is 30 inches long minimum and 36 inches high maximum shall be provided. Knee and toe space complying with 306 shall be provided under the counter.”

This gives one the building blocks for the design of the accessible counter.

The scoping requirements are found in Chapter 2. In the scoping section, the accessible counter location is not defined.

Chapter 2 Scoping Requirements.
227 Sales and Service.
227.3 Counters.
“Where provided, at least one of each type of sales counter and service counter shall comply with 904.4. Where counters are dispersed throughout the building or facility, counters complying with 904.4 also shall be dispersed.”
Advisory 227.3 Counters.
“Types of counters that provide different services in the same facility include, but are not limited to, order, pick-up, express, and returns. One continuous counter can be used to provide different types of service. For example, order and pick-up are different services. It would not be acceptable to provide access only to the part of the counter where orders are taken when orders are picked-up at a different location on the same counter. Both the order and pick-up section of the counter must be accessible.”

ACCESS then goes to the basic law for guidance and uses the Americans with Disabilities Act Handbook of October 1991. Title III is Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities.

Title III Regulation.
Subpart B – General Requirements.
§36.201 General.
(a) Prohibition of discrimination.
“No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any private entity who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.”

Service counters by their design have an orientation in which they are approached by individuals. That approach direction is frontal in most instances. The service counter by its very nature has a human element, and that is the individual providing the service. There is the eye contact and the waiting line that forms that defines the service counter front. It is and has been for many years the opinion of ACCESS that an individual is discriminated against if the portion of the counter where the general public forms a line does not provide an accessible portion of that service counter.

This is civil rights law, and to date ACCESS knows of no federal court case where a federal judge has ruled on this issue. Also, in the opinion of ACCESS, not having the accessible portion of the counter where the general public line forms is not a winnable position for our clients before a federal judge.

The above are opinions of Hank Falstad, AIA, Managing Senior Associate of Access Technologies Services, Inc. (ACCESS). See our web site for additional information:

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