Related Content

Browse by Category

Browse by Date

Most Comments

Most Active

Recent Comments

Newest Posts

Paper Towel Dispensers Mounted Outside The Allowable Reach Ranges

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Americans with Disabilities Act


Join guest post contributor Brad GaskinsThe McIntosh Group for a new installment in his semi-monthly columnTop 20 ADA Compliance Issues Seen in Truckstops and Travel Plazas.

/// Guest post by contributor Brad GaskinsThe McIntosh Group

When it comes to the ADA, it’s important to leave no stone unturned. Minor details can turn into big lawsuits. Attorney or settlement fees are often costly, with the added requirement of fixing the violations.

Bathrooms are common offenders of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design; architects, contractors and facility managers often miss important details. For example, paper towel dispensers have specific height and clearance requirements lined out in the Standards. A dispenser must be proper height from the floor, with an adequate area for the individual to move in order for it to be considered accessible for those that are disabled.

The requirements for objects which require forward or side reaching, such as paper towel and soap dispensers, can be found in section 308 of the 2010 ADA Standards.

For a paper towel dispenser with no obstructions in front and considered forward reaching, the placement of the unit must be a minimum of 15 inches from the floor with a maximum of 48 inches. A 30 by 48 inch floor space clearance is needed in front.


2010 ADA Standards
Figure 308.2.1
Unobstructed Forward Reach

If the unit has an obstruction in front of it, for example a counter, then different measurements must be taken into consideration. The obstruction should be no more than 25 inches in depth. Placement of a paper towel dispenser with an obstruction of 20 inches or under can have a 48 inch maximum from the floor. If the obstruction is within the 20 to 25 inch range in depth, then the height maximum for the dispenser is 44 inches.


2010 ADA Standards
<strong">Figure 308.2.2
Obstructed High Forward Reach 

Side reaching requires the same measurements as front reaching, it may have a 10 inch obstruction in front of it and remain 48 inches maximum in height. If the obstruction is 10-24 inches, the placement of the paper towel dispenser has a maximum of 46 inches.


2010 ADA Standards
Figure 308.3.1
Unobstructed Side Reach

Unfortunately, truck stops and convenience stores often do not meet the proper paper towel dispenser regulations because the architects and contractors overlooked this potentially huge issue. It is important to consult section 308 of the ADA Standards to make sure your restrooms don’t make you the target of an ADA lawsuit. 


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

Photo Credit: 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.

{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.

Subscribe to Updates

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