ADA HandicapSIgn

A handicap accessible sign.


The American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 contains technical requirements for handicap accessibility to buildings and facilities by individuals with disabilities. The scope is to be applied during the design, construction, and alteration of buildings and health-care facilities covered by titles II and III of the ADA to the extent required by regulations issued by Federal agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation, under the ADA. The illustrations and text of ANSI A117.1-1980 are reproduced with permission from the American National Standards Institute.


The history of the ADA did not begin on July 26, 1990 at the signing ceremony at the White House. It did not begin in 1988 when the first ADA was introduced in Congress. The ADA story began a long time ago in cities and towns throughout the United States when people with disabilities began to challenge societal barriers that excluded them from their communities, and when parents of children with disabilities began to fight against the exclusion and segregation of their children. It began with the establishment of local groups to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. It began with the establishment of the independent living movement which challenged the notion that people with disabilities needed to be institutionalized, and which fought for and provided services for people with disabilities to live in the community.

The ADA owes its birthright not to any one person, or any few, but to the many thousands of people who make up the disability rights movement - people who have worked for years organizing and attending protests, licking envelopes, sending out alerts, drafting legislation, speaking, testifying, negotiating, lobbying, filing lawsuits, being arrested - doing whatever they could for a cause they believed in. There are far too many people whose commitment and hard work contributed to the passage of this historic piece of disability civil rights legislation to be able to give appropriate credit by name. Without the work of so many - without the disability rights movement - there would be no ADA. [1]

Common Requirements[]

Some common requirements are:

  • Doorways shall have a minimum clear opening of 32 in with the door open 90 degrees.
  • Mirrors shall be mounted with the bottom edge of the reflecting surface no higher than 40 in.
  • Sinks shall be mounted with the counter or rim no higher than 34 in.
  • Accessible parking spaces serving a particular building shall be located on the shortest accessible route of travel from adjacent parking to an accessible entrance.
  • The required Minimum Number of Accessible Spaces for a total of 100 cars parked in the lot equals four.[2]


  1. Mayerson, Arlene., "The History of the ADA: A Movement Perspective". 1992.
  2. ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG). September 2002.


ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG) Website

See also[]