American Disability Act (ADA) Regulations for Retails

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Melanie Swann, Lead Ergonomist recently completed a piece of work in the USA assessing a customer’s compliance with the amended Americans with Disabilities Act (2010), and compiled this  blog to help US based retailers comply with ADA regulations. Given the litigious nature of the American public it is important that no one – including retailers – falls foul of the regulations. The ADA gives clear guidelines regarding accessibility for commercial building and facilities intended for use by the public. The published guidelines are intended to be applied during the design, construction or alteration of public spaces. Any alterations that are made to existing facilities may mean access arrangements need to be updated in order to bring them in line with the amended regulations.

The regulations use current, relevant anthropometric data of American adults.

Retailers need to consider the regulations that are applicable to the store environment:

  • Access and egress
  • In store space
  • Payment accessibility
  • Kiosk accessibility

Increasingly retailers are using new technologies in their stores and these need to be accessible to all people. The ADA specifications for kiosks aims to ensure that they can be used by people with mobility limitations and sensory (hearing and/or visual) impairments with the same ease of access as people with no disability.

Kiosk usability

There needs to be adequate, level, clear floor space to allow all users to approach the kiosk. For users with mobility limitations either front on or side on access must be possible. The law requires that for front on access a minimum width clearance is 30”, for side on access 48” is required.

Kiosks must provide equivalent users experiences for disabled and able-bodied users. This means that both seated and standing users should be able to interact with the whole of the kiosk touchscreen and any peripherals – printer, payment device, keypad, keyboard. Ensuring that these are located a minimum of 15” from the floor at the lowest point, with a maximum height of 48” will allow easy

Payment terminals

These need to be accessible to all potential users. Where installed at a checkout or cash desk there needs to be adequate space for a wheelchair user to approach the counter and operate the payment device. Approach can be forwards or in parallel. The counter height should be a maximum of 38” above the floor. Any payment terminal should be placed close to the edge of the counter so that there is no reach obstruction.


Entrances, exits, in-store aisle and payment aisles must be designed to ensure there is adequate access for all users. The ADA details spatial requirements for doorways and in-store routes.

  • Door width 32” clear
  • Aisle minimum 36” – more space required for turning
  • Flooring surfaces should be level and of suitable surface.

Retail spaces, including interacting with in-store technology, should deliver the same experiences to all users. Consideration of accessibility in the design and modification of retail spaces will help to ensure this. The ADA regulations gives clear and practical guidance to ensure accessibility for all potential customers.


Contact Mel Swann for the SpacePole Ergonomics Consultancy and receive an independent assessment of  ergonomic practices within your business.

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