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Non-compliant Drink Machine Control Heights and Counter Top Heights

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Americans with Disabilities Act


Welcome to the newest post in our blog series, Top 20 ADA Compliance Issues Seen in Truckstops and Travel Plazas. Join guest post by contributor Brad GaskinsThe McIntosh Group on the second Friday of every month for his monthly column.

/// Guest post by contributor Brad GaskinsThe McIntosh Group

The devil is in the details. We find that some of the top Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance issues seen in truck stops and travel plazas are overlooked details within the Standards. This month we look at how non-compliant counter top heights also affect drink machine control heights.

Drink machine controls are often too high when the machines are placed on top of counter tops that are too high. We’re finding that when counters are leveled, they are leveled up. This makes the counters too high, often as little as a quarter inch. Yes, a quarter of an inch does matter.

We look to the ADA Standards regarding reach ranges for guidance on this issue (sections 308.2 and 308.3).

Where a high forward reach is over an obstruction, the high forward reach should be a maximum of 48 inches where the reach depth is 20 inches maximum. Where the reach depth exceeds 20 inches, the high forward reach should be a maximum of 44 inches. The reach depth shouldn’t exceed 25 inches.

Where a clear floor space allows a parallel approach to an element and a high side reach over an obstruction, the height of the obstruction should be a maximum of 34 inches. The high side reach should be a maximum of 48 inches for a maximum reach depth of 10 inches. Where the reach depth exceeds 10 inches the high side reach should be a maximum of 46 inches. The reach depth shouldn’t exceed 24 inches.

Where a forward or side reach is unobstructed the high reach should be a maximum of 48 inches and a minimum of 15 inches. 


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I should also mention the requirements for the operable parts of drink machines. Section 309.4 of the ADA Standards states that the controls should be operable with one hand and shouldn’t require tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist. The force required to activate operable parts should be a maximum of 5 pounds.

Next month we’ll continue our discussion of reach ranges and cover the requirements for cup and lid dispenser heights. 

/// Read more Top 20 ADA Compliance Issues Seen in Truckstops and Travel Plazas posts here

Photo Credit: The McIntosh Group


Editor's note: Gaskins was a Human Library expert at The NATSO Show. The NATSO Show 2014 will be January 25-29 in Nashville, TN. Learn more about The NATSO Show 2014 here- AT

{Guest Post} Guest post provided by NATSO Allied member Brad GaskinsThe McIntosh Group. The McIntosh Group is an architecture firm focused on providing accessibility solutions for clients nationwide. Learn more about The McIntosh Group.

The opinions and advice given by guest post contributors are not necessarily those of NATSO Inc. The posts should not be considered legal advice. Qualified professionals should be sought regarding advice and questions specific to your circumstances.

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About the Author

Brad Gaskins, AIA, CASp

Brad Gaskins, AIA, CASp

Brad has more than 25 years experience in the practice of architecture and a comprehensive understanding of professional practice nationwide. Brad brings a unique and valuable perspective to The McIntosh Group’s practice and clients, with a specific expertise in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and national building codes.  Brad has gained recognition as an expert witness for clients with ADA compliance complaints. He represents NACS, The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, as a full voting member on the International Code Council (ICC), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A117.1, Consensus Committee on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. His objective is to share, with the committee for their deliberations, the potential impact of the standards on the convenience store and truckstop industry. Brad has an undergraduate degree in engineering and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Oklahoma. He is currently serving as president of AIA Oklahoma. 

Got questions about ADA guidelines? Let Brad help, he’s the ADA Geek.


The “Ask Brad” website educates visitors on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The site offers the knowledge of an architect, Brad, who has a specific expertise in ADA compliance. Visitors to the site are encouraged to submit questions regarding the ADA. Brad will answer the questions and post them to the site for all to take advantage. In addition to the Q&A section, the site offers timely information through instructional videos, white papers, articles and resource links.


Please visit the site at